Sunday, October 3, 2010

'Millions' to get us on bikes

The Canberra Times ran a story  last week that the ACT Government was spending $2 million to get people on bikes. It is difficult to get accurate spending figures for each year for cycle infrastructure as the funding is for shared infrastructure in most cases and the funding for on road cycle lanes comes out of the roads resealing funding. So when they reseal on a major arterial road they add a bike lane when they remark the lines.

Cycle lane on London Circuit , Canberra
The Government intends to spend $17.3 Million infrastructure for walking and cycling over the period of 2008 - 2012. The ACT Labor Government claims that this is record funding over this period but maintenance takes a huge slice of that budget with very little left to install new paths for several missing links in the network. Focus on cycling infrastructure has been mainly on the unprotected ,on-road cycle lanes ,which are far cheaper to install than physically separated cycle paths. One consultant said to me that you can have lots of poor quality cycle infrastructure or little high quality infrastructure, this with the small amount of funding that is allocated each year.

Last year the Federal Government allocated $40 million which was matched by the states,territories and local councils on cycle paths, shared paths and cycle lanes making that $80 million. This was a 'one-of ' package as part of the Federal governments stimulus during the GFC.

In the Netherlands, Fietsberaad reported that the Dutch government spending is almost a half a billion dollars on cycling infrastructure each year, this in a country of 16 million people and about half the size of Tasmania. This funding has produced the highest level of bicycle use of any country  and arguably the best cycle infrastructure in the world ,with somewhere in the order of 30 000 km of cycle paths. Here are some of the cities spending:

While some cities ,depending on size, have spent less than other cities, this in reality is on top of high quality existing cycle infrastructure. Germany and Denmark have also invested heavily on cycle infrastructure and are only behind the Netherlands in terms of bike use.

So using the same methodology  for the ACT , over this period 2008 - 2012 on shared facilities for cycling and walking ,the figure is around 12 dollars per person per year. How does that compare to road funding this year:

Yes a 'whopping' 500 dollars per person on road infrastructure this year alone, and why not when the majority of us drive every where. Why invest more in cycling infrastructure when we may get the good idea and use our bikes more often, thus 'really' reducing road congestion.

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