Bicycle Network: Take Action
A new government, a first budget, some good news, and a little anxiety
Mulder's $1.78M project list
2 Novermber 2011. The continuing surge in inner city riding numbers has prompted the State Government boost investment in overdue improvements to infrastructure in the bike hotspots of Yarra City and the City of Melbourne.
The Minister for Roads Terry Mulder said that improving access and safety for cyclists is an important priority for the Victorian Coalition Government.
"Cycling is particularly popular in inner Melbourne where many people ride their bikes to work and to school."
The improvements will include:
- Improved linemarking and new bicycle detectors at traffic signals to give cyclists a head start on the intersections of Alexandra Parade, Johnston Street, Gertrude Street and Victoria Parade along Brunswick Street, Fitzroy ($219,000).
- Green bicycle lanes, signage and pavement improvements on Heidelberg Road, from Queens Parade to The Esplanade, Clifton Hill ($370,000).
- New bicycle signals, improved lighting, green surfacing and pavement improvements at Princes Street, Carlton ($465,000).
- Bicycle safety improvements at Footscray Road, under CityLink ($475,000).
- Improvements to the East West bicycle link ($600,000).
- Before and after studies for bicycle and pedestrian projects ($68,000).
"The East-West bicycle link will connect Abbotsford to Kensington, so cyclists will be able to commute to the northern part of the city as well as recreational areas along the link," Mr Mulder said.
"This funding is part of approximately $14.5 million being provided for cycling projects this year and is in addition to a further $12 million to be allocated for specific bicycle commitments over the term of government."
"Cycling is important for transport, sport and recreation and is good for people's health and well being which is why we are continuing to improve Victoria's bicycle path network," Mr Mulder said.
The Victorian Government has also started work on a metropolitan planning strategy to guide land use and transport planning in Melbourne. This will include a metropolitan livability audit which will look at existing as well as future bikeways for Melbourne.
"The Coalition Government and VicRoads are working in partnership with councils and bicycle groups to develop Victoria's bicycle path network now and into the future," Mr Mulder said.
"We will continue to consider the needs of cyclists as part of all major transport projects."
The Minister's commitments will be welcomed by bike riders everywhere. Although this statement concentrates on inner Melbourne, where the most people ride, it creates an expectation of further announcements in other areas.
All new Governments are initially skeptical of the value of bikes, but they soon confront the mountains of positive evidence, and come to realise that investment in bike facilities delivers major benefits to the community.
State Budget OK for now
4 May 2011. The Coalition Government's first budget delivers sunny skies for bike infrastructure next year, but the longer term forecast is cloudy.
Spending through the VicRoads bicycle program seems set to continue at roughly the current level during 2011-12 financial year, according the Government sources.
That should ensure that priority projects planned or underway are safe from cuts and will be delivered.
These include vital projects such as the Darebin and Gipps and Clark Street bridges and the extension of the path along the rail corridor from Maidstone to Sunshine Station and out to Deer Park.
Beyond 2012 the picture is less clear. The budget papers show unrealistically low levels of expenditure for 2013 and 2014.
Rather than signal savage cuts this probably means that the new government has yet to digest and prioritise the long backlog of urgently needed bike infrastructure which will have to be constructed during that period.
The only new long term commitment made in the Budget was funding for the weekday operation of the bike/pedestrian ferry across the Yarra from Spotswood to Port Melbourneâ€”the Westgate Punt.
Other budget announcements will result in associated benefits for bike riders.
As bike infrastructure has to be considered in all major government transport projects, there will be bike provision included in a number of the planned new arterial road and rail expansions.
The commitment to taking rail to Avalon airport will provide the opportunity for a further extra link in the off-road path network between Melbourne and Geelong, taking it another step forward.
Riders should also take heart from the large financial commitment made for new trams and trains. The hundreds of millions of dollars allocated will place into sharp relief the extremely low cost of bike infrastructure as a solution to getting citizens to work, school and play.