Liberal member for Brindabella Mark Parton has called on the ACT Government to enable more Canberrans to enjoy an active lifestyle by making it easier for people to ride bicycles in the ACT.
“We live in the perfect city to live actively and healthily,” said Mr Parton. “The sun shines on Canberra for much more of the year than is the case in Sydney and Melbourne.”
In an address to the Legislative Assembly earlier this month, Mr Parton said that it was his personal view “that the government should not shy away from spending money on creating accessible infrastructure that will enable people to participate in an active lifestyle.”
“I do not believe that the government is spending enough on maintaining our current cycling infrastructure or filling the holes in the current cycling network,” he said.
“I know it is easy for opponents of that sort of infrastructure spend simply to cite its bottom line cost, but I think that we must move the conversation towards a broader narrative of creating a healthy city, which ultimately will repay us all many times over.”
Mr Parton emphasised the difference it would make to the ACT as a whole if more Canberrans adopted a healthier and more active way of life.
“Territory and state budgets across this country are being squeezed more by the bottom line for health spending than by anything else,” said Mr Parton. “The reality is that if we could just convince another five per cent of the population to adopt a more healthy lifestyle, the effect on the health budget here in the ACT would be astounding.”
Mr Parton described how he and his wife have been climbing hills around the ACT, prioritising their health and fitness despite their busy lifestyles. As an enthusiastic bike rider, Parton uses cycling to facilitate a healthy lifestyle and worked incidental exercise into his life by riding to work.
“I participated in the Cycle Works Challenge through Pedal Power in April. As part of that, I cycled nearly 700 kilometres in the month of April,” said Mr Parton.
“I have managed to lose seven kilograms since February. I feel so much better for it. I genuinely do have more energy. The niggling health problems I had prior to this program seem to have disappeared. I am sleeping better at night.”
With the release of the ACT budget early next month, there may be an opportunity for the Canberra Liberals to show leadership in opposition by championing real investment in active transport initiatives.
Parton noted that he had some way to go in order to bring his Liberal colleagues around to his personal view about the benefits of investing in ACT bike-riding infrastructure.
For the good of the ACT, let’s hope he is successful.
Anne Treasure is the Communications Manager for Pedal Power ACT. She writes on bike riding in the ACT from the perspective of someone who rides mainly for transport.