With just a few days to go until the Tasmanian election, most of the parties have locked in their promises to bike riders.
The good news is that the Liberal and Greens parties have committed to funding the Bicycle Network Ride2School program in the next term of government. The bad news is that Labor is yet to commit funding to the program.
All parties have promised some funding for bicycle infrastructure in the coming four years:
- The Greens have committed $20 million in a bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure fund that matches council contributions. This comes close to the Bicycle Network request to spend $10 for every Tasmanian.
- The Liberal Party has promised $6 million for cycling infrastructure on state roads and to connect state and local road infrastructure, with $2 million to be spent in the south, north-west and north. Some of this funding will be matched with local council contributions. It has also promised $2 million in matched funding grants for southern councils for bicycle infrastructure that connects areas within towns or regions through lanes or dedicated cycleways.
- The Labor Party is offering $4 million in matched funding with local councils and community groups for tracks and trails up to a limit of $100,000 for each project.
Not enough for real change
While it’s great to have money pledged for new bicycle lanes and tracks, what is being promised is still not enough to make the changes needed to get more people riding.
We know that if we are going to reap the health benefits of more people being more active, we have to build connected, separated cycleways that are more than a line painted on a road.
Some 60% of people say they want to ride more often, but not next to moving traffic.
It would be perfect if we were able to get riders around on off-road bike paths: not only are they lower risk than on-road lanes, they are cheaper to build.
However, in many built-up areas this is not possible so we have to look at separated on-road lanes. These are commonly referred to as Copenhagen-style lanes, where the road is re-organised so the bike lane runs next to the footpath and has a concrete barrier or row of parked cars protecting riders from moving traffic.
Separated on-road lanes cost roughly $1 million per kilometre to build. Even with local councils also stumping up money, current funding commitments mean it would take decades to build connected networks in our urban centres.
The Liberal party follows a positive provisioning policy when it builds roads. This means that any new road has cycling infrastructure factored into the build.
Because the Liberals are promising a lot of new roads and bridges this election, this means cycling infrastructure will automatically be included. On some projects, like the West Tamar Highway improvement, road shoulders are being sealed and widened to cater for road cyclists. On the Bass Highway upgrade, a dedicated cycling and pedestrian bridge across the Forth River will be created from a disused rail bridge.
The Greens have set aside $80 million over three years for a Hobart City Deal. This would cover the state government’s share for public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure, including end-of-ride facilities.
The Liberals have also responded positively to two Bicycle Network requests of all the parties:
- review planning and development laws to require developers to provide bike parking and “associated facilities” in major cities across the state.
- update the Walking and Cycling for Active Transport Strategy and provide regular implementation updates.
Our Vote Bike website page lists other smaller promises from all the parties and will be kept updated right up to election day.
Share your Saturday
Will you be riding to the polling booth, or looking forward to tucking into a democracy sausage? Let us know how it goes by sharing your photos using #VoteBike and tagging @Bicycle_Network on Twitter and Instagram.