Bicycle Network: Better Transport
Victorian Cycling Strategy
The State Government has launched a ten year cycling strategy for Victoria.
Victorian bike strategy launched
11 December 2012. The State Government has launched a ten year cycling strategy for Victoria, reviving its sliding fortunes among Victoria's politically influential cycling community.
The strategy will be co-ordinated across various government agencies to ensure better planning of the overall network.The two major planning tools—the Principle Bicycle Network and the Metropolitan Trails Network—will be managed as one system.
Brumby launches bikes into mainstream
24 March 2009. Commuting to work in Melbourne is set for major change now that bike infrastructure will have equal status in the planning and building of Victoria’s transport network.
The era of discrimination, where bike riders were lucky to get a few left-overs when roads were built, has officially ended with the government’s announcement of the Victorian Cycling Strategy. (2.2 MB download)
“This is a history-making document,” Bicycle Network Victoria CEO Harry Barber said. “For the first time in Australia bike riding has been formally recognized as part of the core transport system.”
Mr Barber was commenting on the release of Premier Brumby’s $115M blueprint for future bike infrastructure investment.
The release of the transport strategy follows 13 months of frank discussion between Bicycle Network Victoria and the state government. See background below.
“The government’s announcement means that the needs of bike commuters are front and centre wherever and whenever the transport system is designed, budgeted and constructed,” Mr Barber said.
“Riding to work is already expanding at a rapid clip, but it will really surge once the developments announced today are completed an attracting new riders.
Transport network for bike commuters
The Strategy commits to a defined budget for a transport network for bike commuters. This is independent of investment in bike facilities for recreation riding and local journeys.
More significantly, it commits VicRoads to put bikes into major transport projects in most cases as a matter of course.
There is a challenge here for Roads Minister Pallas and his VicRoads management team. See exclusive preview of Ride On article.
Other countries rely on bike riding for a quarter or a third of their city transport trips, some are now aiming for half. Sydney City has set a 10 per cent target and is backing it up with a $70M investment.
Victoria is now in a position to set ambitious targets for bike commuter growth, setting the scene for major economic gains from more efficient transport investment and lower congestion. This new strategy could generate a doubling of bike commuters in Melbourne.
Switching commuters to bikes has been shown to provide massive benefits to tax payers, improving the capacity and longevity of road and public transport infrastructure, and slashing health costs as people get fit from riding.
Mr Barber said that steady growth and the general acceptance of bike riding by people in Victoria had laid the foundations for the historic plan.
All government departments and agencies
“The government says in the plan that all government departments and agencies will be required to collaborate in the development of bike routes.
“There is enormous potential here to develop unused land alongside railway lines and pipe easements.
“The connection of bikes with public transport, especially rail has begun, and is endorsed and extended in the strategy. It makes sense to feed the public transport system by bike.
“It is reassuring to see commitments to reduce conflict and risk. Risk on the road is a major worry for people not yet riding and they need to see change on that front.
Mr Barber said the Premier should be congratulated for the bold thinking behind the strategy.
“The Premier puts a high value on sound economics and while this strategy will excite bike enthusiasts, it should also please people who have no interest in bike riding but want wise spending on public resources, increased physical activity rates and lower health costs, and a lesser burden for lowering carbon outputs.”
Will the final Transport plan meet expectations for riders?
9 February 2009. Shortly the government will wheel out its Bicycle Transport Plan. It is a time of high hopes and great expectations for bike riders.
Brumby and Co have already showed us the moneyâ€” the budget for the Strategy was released late in 2008. After some prickly negotiation with Bicycle Victoria the Government agreed a figure of $18m a year for six years.
The new Strategy will be critical because it will guide how that money will be spent, or misspent.
If the Strategy is appropriate then the taxpayer will get good value out of the government’s investment and many more people will take up riding. If the Strategy is off target the money won’t be spent effectively and Victoria will have missed an important opportunity.
The Victorian Transport Strategy will deliver a massive boost in road building and public transport, in a response to unprecedented growth. As the surge in bike transportation growth has been even greater, and will continue to be so, will the response be suitably proportional, will it enable funding to be responsive to growing demand, adaptable to new techniques, innovative thinking and provide good value?
There are a number of places where a high investment in a particular place can deliver a high return. Examples of multi million dollar investments that meet this criterion include the Federation Trail, Darebin Bridge, Northbank path and separated kerbside lanes along Heidelberg Road. The Strategy must encourage such projects.
The Strategy must discourage high cost low value investments such as have been funded out of the old Department of Infrastructure Local Area Access fund. For example the million dollars of ill-considered investment on the Gardiners Creek will have only a marginal effect on increasing rider numbers.
Above all the Strategy must continue to allow for the low cost high return projects that have been such a success over past years. The upgrade of the lanes on Rathdowne Street with chevrons and rumble strips have made a major difference in attracting riders, and they cost only 20% more than standard paint. The forthcoming Albert Street project is similarly cost effective and will generate a significant jump in rider numbers.
The Government has promised that a key element of the Strategy will be the ‘incorporation of cycling infrastructure into road investment – in most cases as a matter of course’. This promise needs to be fleshed out in the Strategy.
Here is how to assess the Strategy in detail.
Bicycle Network Victoria has insisted the Strategy to be a bicycle transport Strategy. It is time to untangle the complementary but distinct needs of the two types of riding. Commuters don’t need a path to Werribee Mansion or the Point Cook homestead. Recreational riders don’t need a bike lane on Albert Street East Melbourne. The government needs to prepare a complementary strategy for recreational riders. The transport Strategy should identify destination based networks focused on the transport purpose.
The destinations include CBDs and other centres. These transport routes will in many cases increase the opportunities open to the recreational rider. Bicycle Network Victoria released a map in early 2008 that outlined the need for a 10km radius of bicycle transport routes leading into the CBD. (qec.com.au) There should be a similar structure of routes leading into centres like Knox and Dandenong and to major regional centres like Ballarat and Bendigo.
There should also be a local emphasis in the plan, to encourage bike transport to schools, shops, supermarkets, libraries and rail stations. These journeys are typically only 2-3km, but currently cars dominate these trips. There is a huge community upside in converting a proportion of these journeys to bike travel.
The Strategy will be judged by its outcomes. After talking up a big boost to bike riding in its consultation period, the government struggled to produce the modest $18M increase contained in the Victorian Transport Plan. To be successful the Strategy has to make the most of this funding. Poor project choice, slow and sloppy implementation and the piecemeal development of routes must be a thing of the past.
An effective Strategy will maximise the gains that can be made with these funds and enable the government to meet its commitment for a continuing increase in the number of riders using their bikes for transport.
Understanding reached on the bicycle component of the Victorian Transport Plan
18 December 2008. Today the Minister for Roads and Ports has assured us that the Government will dedicate an average of $18m a year towards cycling infrastructure until the end of the 2013-2014 financial year. His letter is attached.
Since the launch of the Victorian Transport Plan (VTP) while hundreds of you have been writing to the Premier, we have been meeting with the Minister and officials from the Department of Transport.
We have also sought support from organisations such as the RACV, Bus Association and Victorian Transport Association (truck based freight).
Thanks to the pressure you put on the Government we now have an improved plan.
The amount of the commitment is higher than was announced in the VTP and higher than had been committed for this year - $11.5m. It is not the $30m that we were asking for.
However the Minister also put on the table an offer that could provide a significant long term benefit if implemented as promised.
The additional funding offers are in summary:
• Bicycle infrastructure will be included in road investments ‘as a matter of course’ rather than the current unreliable hit or miss system. This makes us part of the $2b road program.
• Bike infrastructure will be opportunistically enhanced through other agency projects such as Melbourne Water and VicTrack. Currently this does not occur.
We agreed that the funds need to be better spent in the future and urged the Minister to set up a dedicated bike route unit that can roll out complete bike routes from beginning to end. We said that the current system of spotting site by site improvements across the network is not the most effective way to spend money. He agreed to consider this for the February Bike Plan.
We have told the Minister that we welcome his two part offer.
If the deal is to hold, then VicRoads has to deliver. They have to spend the $18m on effective end to end routes. They will also have to step up their provision of bike facilities as part of their ‘mainstream’ work.
We have received assurances from the CEO of VicRoads that this approach has his support. He told us that he wants to see bike routes carrying five thousand riders – a trebling of the current busiest routes.
If the Government can implement what they propose, there will be a significant step up in investment in infrastructure and a resultant increase in the number of riders.
We will all be watching very closely to see if the Government’s actions match its words. The lead up to the State election in two years time will be a good time to assess progress and the judgement will then be in your hands.
Thanks again to everyone who wrote. It was made very clear to us that your letters were placing a lot of pressure on the Premier and stimulated the offer that was made.
Figures don't add up for bikes inPlan announcement
8 December 2008. The Plan commits $100m over 12 years or $8.3m a year. That sounds good but this commitment replaces the 2006 Meeting our Transport challenges (MOTC) commitment of $7.5m a year.
In other words the $40b transport plan was only able to find an extra $800 000 a year for bikes. This will buy around 2km of bike path.
Total spending on bikes in the transport area by the State Government will be $12.3m a year. [See below]
The Premier spoke well in launching the plan. He said that he wanted to get an extra 15 000 people riding their bikes to work. He made the point that if these people rode, the State would not have to buy trains or roads for them.
We agree with this logic. It is the reason why non-bike riders and economists would support a strong bike budget. In fact it would cost $1b to buy Connex trains to seat 15 000 people. Roads would be even more expensive.
Despite this, the Premier's financial commitment doesn’t live up to his logic. The funding announced will not deliver what the Premier says he wants.
In addition, the relatively quick roll out of bicycle infrastructure would immediately act to take the congestion pressure off the public transport and road system.
Rod Eddington said in his report that the transport and other benefits of a mode shift to bikes ‘justify greater investment in removing the barriers that prevent more Melburnians taking up cycling – including improving connectivity across the cycle network, separating cyclists and motorists on major routes, making it easier to combine cycling with train and bus travel, and promoting the use of cycling as an alternative to car travel for short trips.’
He proposed $60m worth of projects in the East West corridor of Melbourne alone.
Unfortunately the State has not taken Sir Rod’s advice.
If we were to build Sir Rod’s bike routes with this money, they would soak up six years of the statewide bike budget. Even then it would only deliver improvements in a small part of metropolitan Melbourne.
How much should the State spend?
The Lord Mayor of Brisbane City Council was elected this year with a promise to spend $25m a year for four years. The independent Mayor of Sydney was elected this year with a promise to spend $17.5m a year for four years in the City of Sydney alone.
We are asking the Government to commit $30m a year for six years – the end of the next term of Government.
The Plan also announced that 600 short term hire bikes will be placed around the CBD at a cost of $5m.
There is also a commitment of an additional $10m to rail trails which we support and endorse.
Neither of these initiatives will have a significant effect on transport or congestion across the state.
[VicRoads spends $4m a year. The continuation of this funding has been confirmed. The VTP funding is $8.3m. VicRoads will also sometimes spend additional money on trails as part of some major bypasses and road projects. There is a trail commitment with the proposed Frankston bypass for example.]