The delayed federal budget 2020/21 was released on Tuesday night. And while one of the Morrison government's big selling points was creating jobs by building things, it's hard to find a specific bike project in the budget papers.
However, that doesn't mean there won't some benefit for people who ride bikes.
Up to $17 billion will be dished out to states and territories for new and "shovel ready" infrastructure projects. Most of that money will be used on dedicated road and rail projects, however $1 billion will be available to local councils through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program.
The Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program (LCRI) was established earlier this year as a response to COVID, providing stimulus funds for councils to build and upgrade local facilities, including bike lanes and trails. It was what enabled some councils to quickly crack on with paths and quick-build bike lanes.
An extra $1 billion of LCRI Program will be available to councils from 1 January 2021.
Many councils that we know have bike plans, with action plans and 4-year budget allocations, and even projects that right now are in the design phase, and in some cases out to tender. We'll be working closely with councils to ensure that these get access to the federal funding.
As well as the LCRI providing an indirect opportunity to deliver bike projects, there will likely be some bike work done as part of other road projects.
Victoria is set to get more than $320 million for road and rail projects and thanks to the state's rules that say any new road projects must include provisions for bikes, there will be something for us who use two wheels.
While not all states have the same mainstreaming rule as Victoria (although they should), bike lanes and trails are often worked into large infrastructure projects.
An underspend on bikes
While there will be some nice things that should from the LCRI money, it's disappointing that the budget did not include a specific bike infrastructure fund, something that has never been more important than now.
As we move into a COVIDnormal we need transport options that can reduce congestion and overcrowded public transport.
Incorporating bike riding into our daily lives can be our our greatest and most cost effective preventative health tool, serving to protect the long-term health and happiness of all Australians.
A submission made by Bicycle Network, Pedalling to a Better Normal, requested $100m of federal government funding for 250km of adaptable, separated bike lanes throughout Australia.
This would have been just .58% of the $17 billion allocated to infrastructure in the budget and only $4 per person. European countries like France and the UK have spent the equivalent or almost $8 per person on cycling as a COVID response. Finland has spent more than $12.
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.