Active travel investment: 2020 ACT Election

If we want to get the job done, how much is really enough? Comparing the active travel pledges from the major parties at the 2020 ACT Election with historic benchmarks.


  1. Snapshot
  2. Funding
  3. How big is a million?
  4. ACT 2019 Budget
  5. Pedal Power ACT budget submission
  6. 20% of ACT transport budget


The chart below shows the 2020 ACT Election pledges compared to benchmarks for active travel and the funds pledge by the major parties at the 2020 ACT Election.

The data used in this chart is discussed in the sections below.

Funding by party

The one single factor which has crippled the ACT cycling agenda is lack of funding. The Canberra Progressives have said that the transport budget should be split evenly between light rail/active travel, and roads. The amounts listed are totalled over four years (not per annum).

Investment (millions)Pledge 2016 Spent by 20202020 pledgeComment
ACT Greens$60$30$80best offer
ACT Labor$30$20too little
Canberra Liberals$5too little
2020 ACT Election: What the parties have pledged. Funding of cycling infrastructure in the ACT.

How big is a million?

Big numbers are tricky because they have very little meaning to us. Is a million big, and compared to what? We do better when we compare the party pledges with historic values and benchmarks. For example, knowing that building a separate bike path in Melbourne costs about a $1 million/km (including bridges and drainage) adds a little perspective.

It is also important to compare like with like. The ACT Budget documents are always for four years, so it makes sense to use this period as it is what we will most likely hear quoted (not the per annum figure).

For clarity, the capital investment in new paths is listed separately to the maintenance works for existing paths (maintenance).

SourceBenchmark (millions)
ACT 2019 budget$32 – new
$18 – maintenance
Pedal Power ACT budget submission$110 – new
$53 – maintenance
20% of the ACT transport budget$54 – new and maintenance
Comparison of investment in active travel in the ACT with other benchmarks.
* In the 2019-2020 ACT Budget, $271 million was spent on transport.

Each source in the left column is detailed below.

ACT 2019 Budget

The active travel capital investments in the ACT for the 2019 budget was $32 million over four years (2018-2022). Breaking it down looks like this:

Path maintenance funding over four years (2018-2022) totalled $17.9 million. A further $1.2 million was invested in maps and signage and $2.5 million for work improvements around schools.

5 August 2021 Belconnen Bikeway Project Costs

Part 2C Capital Works, TCCS 2019-2020 Annual Report, 255.

Building a better city – Active Travel – Belconnen bikeway
Revised pratical completion date: Sep 2018
Total expenditure: $250,000
Comment: likely design work

Part 2C Government Contracting, TCCS 2019-2020 Annual Report, 268.

Belconnen bikeway – superintendency
Contractor: Cardno Pty Ltd
Value: $197,162.40
Period 24/7/2019 to 1/7/2021

Belconnen bikeway – construction
Contractor: Cord Civi Pty Ltd
Value: $6,218,631.36
Period 9/9/2019 to 9/7/2021

Total project cost: $6,665,793.76

Pedal Power ACT budget submission

Pedal Power ACT makes an ACT Budget submission every year. Their recommendations are a good reference. It recommended:

  • increasing, over four years, maintenance to $53 million
  • capital works of $110 million.

20% of ACT transport budget

The 20% rule is the European benchmark for active travel. The recent plans in the Republic of Ireland is an example of this.

In the 2019-2020 ACT Budget, $271 million was spent on transport. Using the 20% rule from the Republic of Ireland that would mean the active travel capital investments in the ACT should be $54.2 million over four years. From the last budget, we know the planned active travel capital investments is $32 million over four years. The 20% target would mean the ACT active travel spend in the ACT should be approximately doubled.

ACT Budget 2019-2020 YourSay accessed 17-6-2020
ACT Transport spend $271 million, ACT Budget 2019-2020, YourSay, accessed 17-6-2020.

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