National cycling strategy key to cutting debt and ending congestion

April 16th, 2019

Image credit: @thebiciproject/@chickswhoridebikes

 

Hundreds of thousands of Australians could cycle their way out of debt and poor health if the next Federal Government agrees to throw $500,000 towards a National Cycling Strategy, according to Bicycle Queensland.

In a pre-election pitch to party leaders, the group has called for much greater investment in cycling infrastructure and encouragement programs, promising more Australians will get home on time.

Bicycle Queensland CEO, Anne Savage, said Australians were fed up with congestion and a growing network of roads in disrepair.

“Encouraging more Australians to take up cycling and walking could save the average Australian $1500 a month, enabling economic growth and productivity as well as new spending in associated areas,” she said.

“As we approach Election Day, Australians are feeling the pain of high fuel prices, spiralling health costs, excessive parking fees, and unaffordable motor vehicle registration.

“Notably, nearly half of Australian capital city commuters (46%) live within 10km of work, and more than one in four live within 5km (26%).

“Even a small shift of 5% of driver-only vehicles to cycling and other forms of healthy travel will remove over 300,000 cars from Australia’s daily commuter traffic and improve Australia’s overall health profile by reducing rates of overweight and obesity.”

Research by the Australian Automobile Association has found that transportation costs are rising at a faster rate than inflation.

“The average family spends more than $18,000 each year just getting from A to B in their car and the cost of owning and running a vehicle increased by over $7000 last year,” Savage said.

“It’s really no surprise that most Australians say they want more bikeways so that they can ride safely to their local schools, shops, parks, pools, and polling booths.

“There can be no doubt that cycling is one of the keys to reducing gridlock, saving costs, and improving Australia’s overall health and wellbeing.

“More people cycling more often would also help to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on our roads, based on the incontrovertible evidence that motor vehicles are at fault in the majority of traffic accidents, and especially those concerning cyclists and pedestrians.”

A study of driver attitudes towards cyclists has found nearly one in five drivers have deliberately blocked a cyclist, 11 per cent have deliberately driven too close to a cyclist, and nearly one in ten have used their car to cut a cyclist off on the road – behaviours Bicycle Queensland say are worsened by demand pressures on the road network.

The group has also called on the Government to satisfy international cycling benchmarks by dedicating specific-purpose funding of $300 million per year for the next three years towards the delivery of cycling infrastructure and encouragement programs, with recurrent increases to $500 million and more per year in future budget estimates.

“This recommendation aligns with the successful actions of the UK Government, which provides £1 billion in grants for cycling and walking, equivalent to £6 per person in the UK (AUS$10.95),” Savage said.

“Increasing the scale and pace of growth in cycling infrastructure will also help stimulate the construction industry and boost employment, while enhancing the amenity and value of suburban properties, improving quality of life for all Australians and delivering an additional financial boost for homeowners and investors.

“While the 2019-20 Federal Budget already includes record funding of $100 billion over the next ten years for transport infrastructure, not one dollar has been given specifically to improvements for principal cycling networks.

“Our hope is that the next Federal Government will listen to community feedback and make world-class cycling infrastructure an essential aspect of all spending on road and other relevant transport projects.”

Using NSW as an example, people who commute by car or public transport receive government support of between $813 and $1829 each per year.

“Research shows that for every kilometre travelled by bike instead of motor vehicle, the community gains $1 – offering tremendous economic value and significant community benefit,” she said.

“Cycling is also the only truly renewable form of transport. A modest shift to cycling could save around 450 million tonnes per year of carbon emissions, decrease pollution, and preserve air quality, as cars emit about half of all harmful transport-related greenhouse gases in Australia every year and account for about 70% of air pollution in major cities such as Brisbane.

“Australia has the power and the people to achieve a congestion-free transport network, but we need to lift Federal funding beyond zero per cent – increasing it to five, eight, and ten per cent of overall spending in step with other integrated transport strategies.

The most recent National Cycling Participation Survey found a resounding majority of Australians want to see stronger investment in bikeways, and better connections between bike paths and schools, shops, pools, and parks.

“Cycling is one of the easy keys to creating fitter, happier, and better-connected communities,” Savage said.

“About four million people already ride on a weekly basis, and nearly half of all households have one or more bikes.

“The creation of a National Cycling Strategy, supported by strong funding and the integration of cycling across road projects, would spearhead efforts to create an affordable, efficient, and congestion-free transport system, while helping to reduce the nation’s road toll and promote a healthy Australia.

“Our vision is of a future Australia where people from all walks of life can safely and easily enjoy cycling; we would welcome strong action from the next Australian Government to help us achieve that goal.”

ENDS.

Letter to the Liberal and National Party Coalition > click here

Letter to the Australian Labor Party > click here

Letter to the Australian Greens > click here

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