Despite a record infrastructure spend of $93 billion over the next four years, the latest NSW Budget is decidedly light when it comes to any detail on funding for active transport.
While the Coalition Government's promise to double their spending on bike and pedestrian paths is in their election commitments paper, it's still unclear where it sits in the budget.
A quick control F search of the complete budget document fails to bring up any reference or investment in active transport or bike riding.
At the time, Minister for Transport and Roads the Hon. Andrew Constance said that if re-elected the government would dedicate $330 million to active transport over the next five years, spending an additional $285 million on paths through infrastructure projects such as the South West Metro. This commitment would effectively double the government’s funding of active transport.
The marginal Liberal seat of Coogee was also set to be the first to benefit with a new fully separated cycleway along Centennial Park, creating a vital link between Bondi and Sydney’s CBD.
Any detail on either commitment appears to be missing or hidden deep within budget papers.
To make sure we haven’t overlooked it when combing through pages of documents, Bicycle Network has reached out to the Minister for Transport and Roads for clarification on where the funding has been allocated.
We'll update this page, once we receive a reply.
Build for cars
What's very clear, however, is that the NSW government will continue to spend billions on major road, bus, light rail and train projects. Without a specific positive provisioning policy, it is uncertain the extent to which these projects will incorporate infrastructure that makes it easier to walk or ride.
The UN Environment Program is currently calling on governments at all levels around the world to invest at least 20% of their annual transport budgets on walking and cycling infrastructure. The budget falls well short.
Organised sport isn't the answer
When it comes to increasing physical activity among young people, there’s money allocated to expand the NSW Government’s Active Kids program where school-age children participating in organised sport are eligible for two $100 vouchers.
While these vouchers may help reduce the immediate costs associated with organised sport, they will do little to instil long term positive behaviour change. We need to get more children and young people moving by integrating exercise into their daily lives. The answer isn’t organised sport.
Bicycle Network provided a submission to the NSW government with four critical key priorities that we believed were not only reasonable and cost-effective but will deliver wide-ranging benefits to society over and above the individual.
One key part of this was funding for a state-wide Ride2School program. Running for more than 10 years in Victoria, our program has proven success in building healthy active habits in school communities. Schools that are actively engaged in our Ride2School program report an active travel rate of 45 per cent, more than double the national rate of 20 per cent.
A missed opportunity
Sadly, this budget is a missed opportunity to reduce the risk for bike riders and make bike riding an attractive and accessible transport choice for people of all ages.
Until we start fast-tracking and prioritising the movement of people over vehicles by supporting the development of bike riding, our transport system cannot fully support the economic prosperity and growth of NSW.Budget paper