ACT Labor: direction of the wind

For cycling, ACT Labor is the driving force. The ACT Greens in comparison have proven unable to deliver on their ideas. Worse still, the ACT Greens have failed to approached cycling advocacy strategically. ACT Labor is delivering on its election pledges, although the achievement humble, as ACT Labor do not plan to do much. They lack the ambition necessary to get cycling moving in the ACT.

ACT Labor

ACT Labor’s cycling ambition back in 2020 was pretty low. The planned investment of $20 million looks pretty ordinary compared to the $80 million that the ACT Greens’ pledge. ACT labor were true to their word, with somewhere between $19-26 million (depending on how you calculate it) in the ACT 2021-22 budget over four years (2021-2025).

Over the last 20 years, the progress Labor has made with cycling in the ACT is rather underwhelming. The mode share for commuting to work by bicycle has remained at around 3% for that period (ABS statistics). We should have real concern about this. ACT Labor’s approach lacks urgency and the recognition that business as usual has failed. Particularly with regard to the threat posed from climate change, and the challenges of population growth and congestions, one would think that ACT Labor would think differently.

The program announced by Minister Steel in 2022 was most likely planned all along. ACT Labor’s pledges in 2020 were what TCCS thought at the time made sense. After 20 years in government, it is hard to distinguish between government and directorate. TCCS is delivering business as usual – more studies and policy work, but very little construction.

The Sulwood Drive bike path project, first promised during the 2019 Federal Election, stands out. As 2022 is also a Federal Election year, the priority of this project may not be all that surprising. The Sulwood Drive bike path is welcome and good.

Late in coming is the feasibility study for a grade separated bike path along Adelaide Avenue. Hopefully, we will hear more about this soon.

Read more here: ACT Labor 2020 election roundup

Delivering on pledges from the 2020 ACT Election. The progress ACT Labor has made between 2020 and 2022 (stand 7 May 2022).

Sulwood Driveconstructiondetail design phase
Garden City Cycle Routefeasibility studyprogressing
Belconnen Bikeway extensionconstructionstarts in 2022
Lake Ginninderra studyfeasibility studycompleted
Gungahlin Town Centrefeasibility studyprogressing
Adelaide Avenuefeasibility studyno progress
Movement and Place Framework revisionpolicyannounced 2022
Active travel design reviewpolicyannounced 2022
CBR cycle routes planningpolicyannounced 2022
Active Travel Frameworkpolicyannounced 2022
The progress ACT Labor has made between 2020 and 2022 (stand 7 May 2022)., stand 7 May 2022

ACT Greens

The ACT Greens election pledges have been reviewed here. The ACT Greens have failed to shape the cycle infrastructure agenda of the ACT. The disconnect between what the ACT Greens promised and what the ACT Greens have achieved is reason to question their effectiveness in the ACT politics – at least as far as cycling is concerned.

Information box: paint is not infrastructure

We will never achieve significant mode shift to cycling without off-road, grade separated cycle infrastructure. Cycling on the road is not safe, with or without cycle lanes. The 1.5 m rule, higher fines for drivers and cycle helmets do not fix the problem. The only way to make cycling safe is to rethink the way we build infrastructure for bicycles. Building safe cycle infrastructure will take time. Therefore, it is important to focus on that which is important and avoid distractions. Any political change takes effort, and the best we can hope for from our politicians is that they are talking about things, those things that really count. As Covey said, we need to keep the end in mind to achieve our goals. Strangely, the ACT Greens policies for cycling at the ACT 2020 Election were good but they seem to forget them when they came into power. The ACT Greens have demonstrated that they are easily distracted (discussed further here).

“If you want to take urban biking seriously you need to build more, you need to build a lot more, a lot faster, separated cycling infrastructure. Not on every street, but on every street that has high volume and high speeds. Painted lanes will not do. You will not even get close to 10% mode share.

Brent Toderian, CURF Seminar – Place based development, CURF University of Canberra, 36:19 to 36:50

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