Active transport in a COVID-normal Australia

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There has never been a better time to change the way we move around our communities.

COVID-19 brought abrupt and dramatic changes to national transport systems and cast significant impacts on our economy, our environment, and our physical and mental wellbeing. As we move towards a better normal, we are asking the Morrison Government to consider the benefits of active travel not only for a dramatically changing transport system, but for restoring the physical, mental and social health of Australians.

To support an active transport future in a COVID-normal Australia, Bicycle Network’s budget submission focuses on three key domains: adaptation, appeal and accessibility.

City commuters


Adaptation recommends repurposing public space to maximise health and wellbeing, restore our local economies, and invite Australians back into community spaces, whilst practicing appropriate social distancing measures.

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Appeal includes national strategies for promoting an active bike riding lifestyle. The majority of Australians already have the equipment, skill and motivation to ride – we just need to encourage their transition to becoming regular riders.

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Accessibility outlines policy changes and awareness programs that minimise road risks and create a safe space for riders and drivers. To build a nation of confident bike riders, we must identify and minimise barriers to rider safety.

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As we adjust to accommodate the impacts of COVID-19, now is the time to explore how we can change our existing urban landscape to maximise health and wellbeing, restore our local economies, and invite Australians back into community spaces, whilst practicing appropriate social distancing measures.

Leisure and social cohesion are important life domains that contribute to increased health and well-being. The way we structure our urban space, including active travel facilities, will directly influence these domains and it is therefore important to frame our infrastructure in this way.

In this section, we detail how Australia can adapt our urban space for post-COVID life. Our recommendations are exciting opportunities that will help boost physical and mental health outcomes, create jobs, safeguard businesses, and achieve a better normal.

Recommendations for adapting our urban spaces

  • Establish urban placemaking and street-calming funds for urban space
  • Commit to 250km of active travel infrastructure funding
  • Establish a ‘local discoveries’ fund to promote active tourism between local and regional communities
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Over nine million Australians have ridden a bike in the last year. Despite this, the bike-only share of work trips in our capital cities have experienced minimal growth (<1 per cent) since the 1970s. Riding a bike comprises less than 10 per cent of kids’ school travel preference.

Simply put, most Australians are familiar with bikes. Given that the majority of Australians already have the equipment, skills and motivation, we should leverage this target group for promoting an active bike riding lifestyle.

Cycling promotion campaigns have been shown to increase cycling activity on shared paths in Australia in the past. However, many promotional interventions have been unable to significantly increase population cycling due to poor funding and, as a result, limited community reach.

Now is our chance to increase the appeal of active travel, to get more people out and earning the health rewards. To do that, we require interventions that influence long-term behaviour change.

Recommendations for increasing the appeal of active travel

  • Funding for programs that increase cycling diversity
  • Funding for national Ride2School and Road Ready programs
  • Introduce national pay-to-ride-to-work and tax rebate schemes
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For the benefits of cycling to reach the highest number of individuals, we need to rethink the road space. We need to identify and remove existing barriers for bike riders. This will require policy changes and interventions that minimize risks and create a safe road space for all.

The Australian Government has announced that $2 billion will be provided over 18
months for road safety initiatives. As active travel continues to grow across Australia, we recommend that the government allocates part of this funding towards initiatives that ensure the safety of our current and future bike riders.

In this section, we have provided three key recommendations that are critical for increasing the accessibility of bike riding.

Recommendations for increasing the accessibility of bike riding

  • Establish a national strategy to target distracted driving
  • Establish national prevention measures and awareness programs to eliminate dooring
  • Establish national safety standards and fund awareness programs for heavy vehicles
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Distracted driver

Support our submission

We know collective action makes a difference. Here are some ways you can show your support for Bicycle Network’s federal budget submission 2021-22.

Write to decision makers

Share our budget submission with your federal MP and let them know you care about bikes.

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