A $904 million bike riding stimulus package would use pedal power to safeguard our health, create jobs and improve the spending power of Australians as we work our way out of the COVID-19 crisis.
Pedalling to a better normal, a six-month a plan by Australia’s largest bike riding organisation, Bicycle Network, would see all three levels of government unite to build pop-up bike lanes and incentivise cycling.
$370 million would be invested in 750 kilometres of shovel ready adaptable bike lane projects, $525 million on bike riding incentives including a paid ride-to-work scheme and tax rebates for new bicycles, and $9 million on programs to encourage and support children and less experienced bike riders.
Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards said that Australian governments have done a great job minimising the lives lost through COVID-19 and that now is the time to focus on creating a better normal.
“In the coming months, as our focus turns to saving jobs, it would be a tragedy if we wasted that sacrifice by people returning to overcrowded public transport or choking our streets with more single-use vehicles. The humble bicycle provides the answer to Australia’s transport problem,” said Mr Richards.
Australians have taken up bike riding during lockdown in unprecedented numbers. Bicycle Network’s counts have shown increases of up to 270% on key bike paths, while bike shops dubbed bikes "the new toilet paper" as sales went through the roof.
“The window is open to make the most of this once in a generation opportunity. If we act now we can convert a significant number of Australia’s 3.5 million recreation bike riders into everyday riders by providing better places to ride, incentivising bike riding and unifying our laws that recognise the importance of people riding bikes,” added Mr Richards.
The rest of the world has invested in bikes as a way out of the crisis. Cities such as Berlin, Montreal, Bogata, Paris and Athens have begun installing hundreds of kilometres of pop-up bike lanes and countries such as France, Italy and England are providing incentives to ride.
“Australia needs to get moving. We’ve seen the astonishing speed at which cities are transforming throughout the world. Our Pedalling to a better normal plan creates new jobs, protects existing jobs and reduces the risk of a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks.”
The locations of 750 kilometres of bike lanes are already set in local government bike and transport plans. Bicycle Network’s plan calls for the building of these bike lanes to be brought forward.
“We usually build bike lanes incredibly slowly. This plan calls for Australia to follow the lead of the rest of the world who have constructed in days what usually takes months.”Pedalling to a better normal plan
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable to us to make bike riding better in Australia.