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Federal Government: Infrastructure Australia

Commonwealth: Bikes are infrastructure

8 August 2013. For the first time bikes have qualified as transport infrastructure under the strict criteria of the Infrastructure Australia Priority List.

Infrastructure Australia, which assesses and analyses major infrastructure projects for Federal Government funding, has determined that the Inner Sydney Regional Bike Network is an 'Early Stage Project' in the priority list.

The project covers 15 Local Government Areas that surround the city centre, and provides a 10 kilometre catchment area into Sydney’s heart.

A 284 kilometre network would be created by combining each council’s existing bike plans, with additional infrastructure to fill missing links.

The project would cost $185 million in Commonwealth funding over eight years.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said: “Building and connecting up this network of bike paths would make a real difference for people who want to ride – leaving more space on the roads for people who need to drive,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Infrastructure Australia’s decision reflects the fast growth of bike riding in Sydney and an increasing awareness that safe bike infrastructure is part of the solution to traffic gridlock.”

A study by leading international consultancy AECOM forecast that, if the 284 kilometre network across 164 suburbs was built, the network would produce a 71 per cent increase in bike trips by 2026.

The study estimated the value of reduced congestion alone at $97.8 million, or $4.07 for every commuter switching from a car to bicycle during peak periods.

With regular cyclists typically enjoying the same level of fitness as people 10 years their junior, the study found the network would provide $147.3 million in health benefits for the next 30 years, potentially saving Sydney commuters from chronic diseases like heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.

In its submission to Infrastructure Australia last year on behalf of 15 inner Sydney councils, the City of Sydney said the network would deliver “an increased economic standard of living for Australians, environmental sustainability and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, better social outcomes, quality of life and reduced social disadvantage in our cities, improved productivity and more efficient use of the exiting road network,”

More space for bikes: Eddington

14 July 2011. Infrastructure Australia has told the Federal Government to take action to allocate more road space to bikes.

In its annual report its chairman, Sir Rod Eddington, said government reforms to infrastructure planning and delivery was frustratingly slow and this had resulted in a slowing of Australia’s productivity.

“Infrastructure that is properly planned and financed will improve productivity, economic development and help to preserve a sustainable future for all Australians,” he said.

In its report "Communicating the Imperative for Action" Infrastructure Australia urges "better use of urban road space by sensibly allocating more space to public transport, cycling and freight vehicles.

"This recognises that in most established urban areas the cost of providing additional road space will be very high, and, accordingly, additions to the road network (especially below the arterial road network) will be limited."

Sir Rod said: “Action is needed to reform the way Governments choose the right projects, finance those projects, and operate and maintain them.”

“Governments must also improve the planning of major infrastructure projects and foster use of the current networks more productively by demand management and pricing mechanisms.

“Currently the debate around infrastructure is about individual projects rather than policy development."

“All governments need to communicate the imperative for action to their constituents and get on with the job,” Sir Rod said.

Infrastructure Australia said it was working with the new State Government in Victoria regarding any changes to their State’s infrastructure priorities.

Bicycle Network submission to Infrastructure Australia

30 March 2010. Bike riding is experiencing unprecedented growth in Australia. Once viewed by policy makers as a fringe activity, bike riding is now recognised as an important part of an integrated response to the transport challenges facing our urban centres.

State Governments in Queensland and Victoria for example are writing bicycle transport infrastructure into their transport policies and project specifications.

Local governments in Sydney and Brisbane, to pick the leaders, are spending $20m a year on bicycle infrastructure. It is not unusual for a metropolitan municipality in Melbourne to spend a million dollars a year on bicycle infrastructure.

The Commonwealth record is not so consistent. In 1993, when Bob Brown was Minister for Land Transport, the Commonwealth committed $10m to bicycle infrastructure. In Melbourne this money went to the Footscray Road path, the St Kilda Road bicycle lanes and a re-sheet of Sydney Road.

In the intervening years, the Federal Government, through its regional development responsibilities, funded rail trails. However, in regard to bicycle transportation infrastructure, the 1993 program was the last Federal contribution until the recent National Stimulus Package when $40m was committed to projects that deliver new or improved bike path facilities with an emphasis on commuter bike paths, and on-road bike lanes as well as new or improved bicycle parking facilities. 

This one-off funding support is welcome. However, a more strategic approach to the planning of and investment in bike riding infrastructure is required, consistent with the approach fostered by Infrastructure Australia. This means implementing a systematic approach to planning of bike riding infrastructure, which is based on objective criteria (such as distance to major employment centres and public transport hubs). This would ensure that there is a clear strategy for investment in bike riding infrastructure, which is underpinned by an understanding of the requirements of transport riders.

Critically this approach would give Governments the necessary confidence to invest in bike riding infrastructure. Consistent with this, where appropriate, bike riding infrastructure should be incorporated into road and passenger rail projects which are funded by the Federal Government, as currently occurs in Queensland and Victoria.

These points are emphasised in the Infrastructure Australia submission. Click the image to download (437KB). Also highlighted are some of the complementary regulatory reforms that would support these investments, and the importance of developing a Benefit Cost Ratio for bicycle transport infrastructure that has widespread support and use.

The Commonwealth needs to play a strong role in what is still an emerging policy area for all governments. A top down alignment of policy, planning and investment is essential if the benefits of bike riding are to be optimised.

Write to your local Federal member in support of the submission, Bicycle Network members and Friends will find the contact details of their local member in Blink.