The 2018-19 Federal Budget has failed to include any bike-specific and active transport projects.
$75 billion has been set for infrastructure projects over ten years to tackle safety and congestion with trains, planes and cars for roads without actually planning any transformational projects.
Bicycle Network had asked for a bike infrastructure fund of $480 million per year. Over 10 years this would equate to just 0.64 per cent of the total infrastructure budget – well under the UN’s recommended 20 per cent.
The budget also includes a five-year $154.3 million fund from the health portfolio to promote an active Australia, but it focusses primarily on organised sport, rather than helping people ride a bike to work or school.
Bicycle Network’s addressed this with a request for $3.8 million a year for a national Ride2School program, but it was ignored. However, the health department did manage to find $4 million to make a FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup bid.
Bicycle Network Chief Executive Officer Craig Richards said that it is another misguided, tunnel-visioned federal budget.
“All we wanted was less than one per cent of the budget to go towards building protected and comfortable places for people to ride bikes,” said Mr Richards.
“Instead, we’ll get more roads that will quickly get full of cars and in a decades time when the $75 billion is spent it will be time to load up and start again.”
Is there some light in the tunnel?
Even though there has been nothing directly given to bikes, with a push, shove and some positive provisioning we might just get something.
Positive provisioning is a policy some governments have, including Victoria and Tasmania, that road projects must include bike facilities where appropriate.
It is through this that some bike projects may be delivered.
$1.75 billion has been committed for the North East Link in Melbourne, and we know this will include bike paths.
$400 million for Tasmanian road corridors should see some separated bike infrastructure built, while the Launceston City Deal may also benefit riders.
However, it is the $1 billion urban congestion fund that may be the biggest opportunity for bike development.
This allocation doesn’t seem to have any particular projects, but it does have the aim of supporting “projects to remediate pinch points, improve traffic safety and increase network efficiency for commuter and freight movements in urban areas.”
The best way to stop congestion in built up, urban areas is to reduce car use and get people on to bikes.
The urban congestion fund should be used to give back to bike riders and develop connected and protected bike routes in CBD areas in major cities.
“Bike riders contribute around $30 billion to Australia’s tax. Using the $1 billion congestion fund to build protected bike lanes would be a great way to say thanks,” added Mr Richards.