Renew and expand the $40m National Bike Paths Projects program
The Greens propose that:
· the $40m National Bike Paths Projects program introduced as part of the economic stimulus package be doubled to $80m and become an annualised program to provide local government authorities with substantial, sustained and targeted funding for bicycle infrastructure;
· the program also be extended to include other key bicycle infrastructure, such as end of trip facilities and bicycle parking;
· the program includes a proportion of funding for state and territory Behaviour change and Travelsmart programs, on a matched funding basis;[i]
· four new dedicated positions be created within the Department of Transport and Infrastructure, with the core task of developing a funded active transport strategy;[ii] and that
· the program be decade-long commitment to honour the government’s commitment to the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.[iii]
The $40m National Bike Paths Projects program was a highly successful and popular one-off initiative from the Greens negotiated as part of the 2009 Economic Stimulus Plan. The program, which made funds available to local governments with suitable bike path proposals already developed, was oversubscribed – demonstrating the high demand and the number of ‘shovel ready’ projects.
The National Bike Paths program built approximately 600kms of bike paths across Australia through 166 contracted projects. Individual project funding ranged between $10,500 and $2 million and included projects in urban and rural communities. Bathurst, Molong, Blayney, Geraldton, Cobar, Dalby and Goondiwindi are some of the rural councils taking advantage of the program.
At April 2011, 127 of the completed projects created 1,314 long term, short term, work experience, traineeships and apprentices' jobs.[iv]
The Australian government is a signatory to the National Cycling Strategy 2011-16 released by Austroads and the Australian Bicycle Council[v] and aims to double the national cycling rate by 2016 but the strategy itself has no funding attached.
Apart from the stimulus package, the Federal Government spends almost nothing on cycling. It provides $130,000 pa to the Australian Bicycle Council[vi] and requires bicycle paths to be built alongside all major roads and freeways being built with Nation Building Program funding, which is an ad hoc and unsafe approach to providing bicycle infrastructure.
The 2011-12 Budget included the biggest road spend in 40 years – providing $5.3 billion on roads and $1.22 billion on rail, but nothing for dedicated bike paths. It also contributed $74.5 million to eliminate 292 dangerous black spots on local roads, $28 million to build safe, modern roadside facilities for truck drivers, and $1 billion to assist local councils maintain and upgrade local roads. This constitutes a total of $8.545b.
An $80m annual funding program represents less than 1% (0.93%) of total federal road and rail funding under the Nation Building Program.
The initial projects funded by the National Bike Paths Projects program are estimated to have generated approximately 1,860 long-term and short-term jobs, as well as work experience opportunities and apprenticeships.[vii]
A study released this year found that bicycle infrastructure projects create more 68% more jobs than road projects[viii]. The study by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at University of Massachusetts found that "the greatest level of job creation is for infrastructure projects that are specific to cycling, such as creating or refurbishing bike lanes" and that the "lowest level of job creation is for road-only projects such as repaving or widening roads." In terms of numbers, the difference translates into bike-specific projects creating 11.4 jobs per $1 million spent, versus 7.8 jobs per $1 million spent on road-specific projects. Road projects that integrated major pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure also resulted in an average 48% more job creation than projects that focused exclusively on roads for motor vehicles.
An economic appraisal of the Inner Sydney Regional Bicycle Network was commissioned by The City of Sydney which found that the economic benefits to the community over 30 years, equated to a $3.88 return on every dollar invested.[ix]
Research in 2007 investigated the economic value of replacing car parking with bike parking in shopping strips, and using a case study in Lygon Street, Melbourne showed that cycling generates 3.6 times more expenditure per square meter of parking.[x] Numerous studies have also shown a bicycle path will increase property values by about US$5000-8800.[xi]
One of the major causes of ill health in Australia is physical inactivity, the direct cost of which was $1.49 billion in 2006/07.[xii] Current cycling participation (for recreation and commuting) cuts sedentary lifestyle disease costs by approximately $154 million[xiii], this should be improved.
One of the consistent barriers preventing people from cycling is safety concerns, even among regular cyclists.[xiv] With more dedicated bicycle lanes and visible cycling infrastructure this should significantly improve the actual and perceived safety for cyclists.
This call for annual funding for bicycle infrastructure is also being made by[xvii]:
- The Australian Local Government Association
- Heart Foundation
- Cycling promotion Fund
- The Bus Industry Association
- International Association of Public Transport
[i] Matched funding for Programs targeting at least 10,000 people per year (pro rata, based on WA population) for Program delivery, not staff resources, is recommended.
[ii] As called for in the Australian Vision for Active Transport 2010, a peak body report by the Australian Local Government Association, Bus Industry Confederation, Cycling Promotion Fund, National Heart Foundation of Australia, and International Association of Public Transport at http://www.alga.asn.au/policy/transport/ActiveTransport.pdf
Note: Active transport is defined as physical activity undertaken as a means of transport and not purely as a form of recreation. Active transport generally refers to walking and cycling for travel to and/or from a destination, but may also include other activities such as rollerblading or use of public transport. Use of public transport is also included in the definition as it often involves some walking or cycling to pick-up and from drop-off points (National Public Health Partnership 2001).
[iii] Department of Infrastructure and Transport description of and commitment to Decade of Action Program at http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/safety/decade_of_action/index.aspx; UN Program outline at http://www.makeroadssafe.org/publications/Documents/decade_is_action_booklet.pdf
[iv] Question on Notice No. 440 http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/content/question/national-cycling-strategy
[v] Austroads membership comprises the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Transport, the six state and two territory road transport and traffic authorities, the Australian Local Government Association, and New Zealand Transport Agency. The Strategy is at http://www.austroads.com.au/documents/Australian_National_Cycling_Strategy_2011-16(5).pdf
[vi] Senate Supplementary Budget Estimates 21st October 2010 transcript at http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/content/transcript/bicycle-safety-and-infrastructure
[vii] Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Annual Report 2009–10
[ix] City of Sydney, AECOM (2010) Inner Sydney Regional Bicycle Network—Demand Assessment and Economic Analysis.
[x] Pedestrian and Bicycle Infrastructure: A National Study of Employment Impacts (2011) by Garrett-Peltier at
[xi] For example see Delaware Centre For Transportation and The State of Delaware Department of Transportation (2006) at http://220.127.116.11/projects/DOCUMENTS/bikepathfinal.pdf and The Economic Impact of the Houston Bikeway Program on Houston University of Texas (2004) at http://documents.publicworks.houstontx.gov/documents/divisions/ecd/research_paper_081304.pdf
[xii] Econtech (2007)
[xiii] Economic Benefits of Cycling for Australia | Prepared by the Cycling Promotion Fund | June 2008
[xiv] CYCLING: Getting Australia Moving Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing January 2008
[xv] derived from Census 2006 data
[xvi] Bauman et al, 2008
[xvii] An Australian Vision for Active Transport (2010)