Many pieces moving but few immediate gains

If you are riding on a bumpy bike path, you would hope the bumps would be fixed in a few months or one or two years at the most. The politicians and government officials that make up our government will tell you to be patient, and they are working on it, but we have a discrepancy in the time frame. Cycle infrastructure projects in the ACT take 6-8 years to complete – two legislative terms.

Too slow to adapt?

The ABC Science Show (Robyn Williams) has been reporting on climate change since the 1975s. We are now coming up to 50 years. What have we achieved? We agree in the ACT that climate change is an “urgent” problem and declared an emergency. We are very slow, however, to do anything about it. Is human society is too slow to adapt? While this statement might be true, it is less than helpful. Without doubt, we need to react to climate change more quickly than at present, if we are to avoid largely global temperature rises and the costly consequences.

When an emergency does not result in action. Source:

Cognitive dissonance

cognitive dissonance (noun)

the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change.

Oxford Languages, accessed 15 April 2022.

Most voters would not consider two election terms to achieve a goal in the ACT as timely. Many would say that it is slow. For infrastructure projects, though, this is about average. Why does it take so long?

In an interview for the Gungahlin Community Council magazine, Gungahlin Smoke Signals, Michael Pettersson MLA addressed the problem as a misconception on how the ACT Government/Legislative Assembly works.

It’s also helpful to have realistic expectations of the timelines required for change. If you’re hoping to get a multimillion dollar infrastructure project underway or change longstanding ACT Government policies, then you’ll have to rely on quite a few moving pieces to bring that to fruition. It’s not impossible, not at all, it’s how every good idea in the Assembly starts but it can take some time.

Ralitsa Dimitrova, Gungahlin Smoke Signals, Gungahlin Community Council, Edition 151, April 2022, 15.

Michael Pettersson attitude is that we are working on it, and that is true, but for urgent matters the normal process may not be fast enough. MLAs rarely seem to be prepared to challenge the time frames to get fixes. It is possible though.

Many countries around the world, started to build pop-up cycle lanes around the cities withing months of the COVID lockdowns. Pop-up cycle lanes are temporary cycle infrastructure but the speed they were built is remarkable. Much of this temporary infrastructure has now become permanent. The issue here is that governments tend to think to think of projects as “waterfall” where there are many things that can be done in our public space for cycling that could be done in an Agile way.

TCCS slow to communicate

Minister Steel often does not announce a project until long after it has gone out to tender. If you monitor the ACT Government’s tender website, this work is then old news.

TCCS lacks transparency and the consultation with the public (and community councils) starts too late. When the decision is made it will be announced and not before that. It would make far more sense to discuss matter while the ideas are still fluid.

Partly this is due to the transport engineers seeing themselves as belonging to a tribe of experts and are reluctant to have their affairs interfered with.

But mostly the errors are not apparent until years or decades later and by then there is no one accepting responsibility or for that matter, accepting that error existed. Models are complex, they’re very rarely transparent, that almost never fully open access. They are run by a sort of priesthood – that is us – with lengthy training and their own language. In those circumstances, the roles of scrutiny and challenge are supremely important

ANZ6 – Climate change: challenges for transport models, Modelling World International 2021 ANZ6 21 April 2021, YouTube, 28 April 2021, accessed 4 April 2022.

TCCS slow on active travel

The Ministerial Statement from Chris Steel on active travel announced TCCS plans. It is mostly policy work and studies (particularly traffic studies) and very few infrastructure projects. This remains so for the rest of the legislative period. From this announcement, not much can be expected.

Currently, EPSDD is developing the new ACT Planning Bill and Territory Plan. The consultation for the first has started and the consultation for the Territory Plan will follow later this year. This reform was promised at the beginning of the last ACT legislative period and was delayed. Finally, it is here. The current planning act is from 2007.

On one hand, it does make some sense to try to coordinate the policy develop in TCCS with EPSDD. The new Planning Act is a big change and does not happen all that often.

The issue though remains since the beginning of the COVID period that TCCS seem incapable of acting – how about some pop-up cycle lanes – but instead, fall into paralysis through analysis. The rigidity of the TCCS remain its greatest weakness.

Rapid repairs and maintenance of existing paths should be the norm. It is disturbing that, after all these years, we are failing to achieve it. The cause of path maintenance issues is political neglect and not the process itself.

The next four budget years

This is what we know about the next four budget years in the ACT. Further insights will come with the ACT 2022-2023 Budget. TCCS have likely prepared their budget bid but it will not be made public.

Canberra bike is meant to be read on the phone. Tables however do not show on a phone well. We have added the table and you can scroll across it. You might like to try the timeline below the table if you do not want to scroll.

Upfront: what is coming up in the next few years is mostly policy work. During the next legislative period, we may finally see more cycle infrastructure. Little to nothing is known of the 2024-25 period and the column has been deleted. What we do know, however, is that the next ACT Election is in 2024.

Budget year2021-20222022-20232023-2024
ACT Planning (EPSDD)Planning Bill 2022  Territory Plan 2022, Planning Act 2023, Molonglo 3 East Concept Plan, Molonglo Active Travel PlanPlanning Authority formed, New planning instruments take effect
ACT Transport (TCCS) Active Travel Plan (ATP), Multimodal Network Plan, Gungahlin mesoscopic model, Movement and Place ToolNew Active Travel Standards
Infrastructure projectsBelconnen Bikeway part 2Sulwood Drive bike path 
ACT GreensConcept Paper releaseConcept Paper discussionSome action would be good.
ACT Education  Kenny School completed
Major ProjectsLondon Cct approvalLondon Cct constructionLondon Cct construction
Commonwealth Bridge StartConstruction
Feasibility StudyGarden City Cycle Route Garden City Cycle Route  
Compiled from ACT Government sources.

Phone compatible timelines are found below.

ACT Planning (EPSDD)

  • 2021-22 Planning Bill 2022

  • 2022-23

    Territory Plan 2022*,
    ACT Planning Act 2023*,
    Molonglo 3 East Concept Plan,
    Molonglo Active Travel Plan

  • 2023-24

    Planning Authority formed
    New planning instruments (*) take effect

ACT Transport (TCCS)

  • 2021-22 nothing further

  • 2022-23

    Active Travel Plan (ATP),
    Multimodal Network Plan,
    Gungahlin mesoscopic model,
    Movement and Place Tool

  • 2023-24 New Active Travel Standards

Cycle Infrastructure Projects

  • 2021-22 Belconnen Bikeway part 2

  • 2022-23 Sulwood Drive bike path

  • 2023-24 nothing planned

Consulting on Cycle Infrastructure

  • 2021-22 nothing further

  • 2022-23

    Lake Ginninderra path priorities,
    Tuggeranong Lake Circuit

  • 2023-24 nothing planned

Cycle infrastructure feasibility studies

  • 2021-22 Garden City Cycle Route

  • 2022-23 Garden City Cycle Route

  • 2023-24 nothing planned

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