Bicycle Network: Funding & Budgets
Economic stimulus package
The details have been released about the Jobs Fund bicycle infrastructure package.
Stimulus funding paths faulted
21 March 2012. The Commonwealth Auditor-General has criticised as poorly managed the Federal Government program to build bike paths around Australia as an economic stimulus measure.
One hundred and seventy-five projects were originally approved under the Jobs Fund program, which was a response to counteract the impact of the global financial crisis.
But many of the projects were too late to provide jobs stimulus when required, were not in areas of high unemployment, and were poor value for money.
Many projects in the $40M program did not meet the government's own criteria, but were still funded.
A number of the projects were in Victoria, where the results were better. Victorian councils had more experience in building bike paths and Bicycle Network was prepared to support high quality applications.
Some Victoria projects, for example, the rebuilding of the Main Yarra Trail in Richmond by the City of Yarra, were an outstanding success.
The Auditor-General made specific mention that a Victorian application which would have funded more Parkiteer cages at railway stations was rejected because it did not meet the government's risk criteria, a judgement the Auditor demonstrates as defective.
A significant criticism of the Federal scheme was that the government did not require the paths to be built to the required standards. The result is that some projects have delivered inferior infrastructure that will not attract riders.
At the time the scheme was being designed in 2009, Bicycle Network requested stricter criteria for the scheme, especially a requirement that the projects should demonstrate an ability to attract riders for commuting and other transport purposes. (See below)
It is disappointing that scarce bike infrastructure funding has not been used to full effect.
The lesson for government is that bike facilities deserve high standards of management, with proper criteria, strict standards, complete before and after evaluation, and most of all, need locating where they will result in significant boost to rider numbers.
$40m by 22 May
19 May 2009
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government has prepared some commentary on the original guidelines they issued for the Bike Infrastructure Fund inside the Jobs Fund.
The commentary is in the form of an FAQ which you can download here.
The FAQs answer most of the questions raised by applicants. The FAQs also contain links to the application forms.
There is some good news, for example Partner funding does not need to be fully expended during the same period as National Bike Path Project funding (30 June 2010)
The Fund is now revealed as a Jobs/Bikes fund as the projects have to both create local jobs and provide alternative transport options.
There are strong performance criteria for the Jobs - direct employment and economic benefits in both the short term and long term, the number of work experience positions and the number of traineeships that will be created.
There do not appear to be equivalent performance criteria for the alternative transport side. The guidelines do not mention estimating the use or alternative transport impact of the bike facility. We recommend that a transport impact is included.
Another bit of good news is that the new guidelines offer hope over the next year - 'there may be further opportunities for the funding of Bike Paths Projects during 2009/10 either through additional funding rounds or an ongoing application process. This will be determined following consideration of applications under the First Funding Round.'
Our impression is that the Department will help the proponent rework a weak section of an otherwise promising application that is in on time.
The Federal Government has released details of its $40m infrastructure fund for bicycle projects. This funding will not be available after 30 June 2009.
The funding can be for new, extensions or refurbishment of existing:
• off-road bike paths (but not dedicated mountain bike trails)
• on-road bike lanes (e.g. road-widening and marking bike lanes on an existing road), and
• bicycle parking facilities.
Specific attention will be paid to applications for projects that deliver new or improved bike path facilities with an emphasis on commuter bike paths, and new or improved bicycle parking facilities.
The projects must be ready to start and must be additional to those that would have occured in the abscence of this funding. They must also be in areas of high unemployment.
The majority of the funding must be used for construction but it can also be used for:
• project management costs, and
• payment of salary/wages and
• employee on-costs for additional people employed on the project.
Applicants will need to provide 50 percent of the funding for the proposed project.
The bike path related project proposals will need to demonstrate to the Department of Infrastructure how the project will create local jobs and provide alternative transport options.
Local, State/Territory governments can apply.
Here is the Jobs Funds Guidelines and here is a copy of the Guidelines that we have marked up to indicate the Bicycle sections.
Here is the web link with the application forms.
Greens pump up bike stimulus
25 February 2009. Death's door negotiations on the Rudd economic stimulus package resulted in The Greens winning a $40m cash injection for bike paths.
And bikes could benefit from other segments of the stimulus package, including infrastructure spending and local government employment boosting schemes.
Councils will be able to apply for one off grants under a $300 million fund designed to provide jobs for local unemployed people through the construction of local infrastructure to improve community amenity.
The Regional and Local Infrastructure Program, which has already funded important bike projects, will now be open to councils that did not have projects ready to go the first time around. There is $550m available.
The additional funding materialised after the initial Rudd stimulus plan stalled in the Senate.
The $40m dedicated to bike networks has the potential to enable a number of major, critically important bike projects in each state.
All councils should be on the alert and have their high priority bike network projects 'shovel ready' so that they are not left sitting on their hands when the money starts flowing