Cycling Infrastructure funding and the Federal election

O’Hea street bike path

Bicycle Network have put together a Federal Election cycling commitment tracker. There has been no specific pledges for funding the extension of the Upfield bike path to Upfield and eventually to Wallan, even though it passes through and affects the cycling journeys of citizens in the Federal electorates of Wills, Calwell and McEwen, all with sitting Labor MPs.

Across Australia Bicycle Network advocated for a  $492 million fund based on $20 per head for the Australian population. “This level of funding broadly matches what is spent in Denmark, London and the Netherlands. This is only five per cent of the budgeted $9 billion to be spent on communications and transport infrastructure in 2019-20.”

Read the Bicycle Network Federal Election Policy paper.

Local cycling funding pledges

There have been a couple of cycling announcements here in Moreland by both Labor and the Greens.

Wills Labor MP Peter Khalil announced $500,000 funding for connecting the yet to be constructed dedicated bicycle lane on Cumberland Road in Pascoe Vale with the Upfield Bike Path by extending the existing bicycle lane along O’Hea Street between Sussex Street and Cumberland Road. In the media interview ‘Albo’ stuffed up his lines leading to some confusion about exactly what the funding was for. Khalil’s media release had more clarity: ‘extending the existing bicycle lane along O’Hea Street between Sussex Street and Cumberland Road’.

Note that in March 2019 State MP for Pascoe Vale Lizzie Blandthorn announced dedicated bike lanes will be built on Cumberland Road in Pascoe Vale, with the Dan Andrews Victorian Labor Government providing $2 Million toward this project in the 2018/19 Victorian budget. This work has long been in the pipeline advocated by Moreland Bicycle Users Group and Moreland Council. The hold up in the past to starting this has primarily been VicRoads intransigence.
Khalil, Albanese and Blandthorn make cycling funding announcement

The Greens also chose to announce their national commitment to a $1 billion cycling infrastructure fund at the corner of Park street Capital City Trail and Nicholson street, bordering both the Wills Electorate and the Melbourne electorate.

Federal cycling funding Commitments
Details below are from the Bicycle Network cycling commitment tracker, current as of 9 May 2019.
  • $1 billion in funding for people who ride bikes which includes:
    • Create a network of safe and unbroken bicycle routes
    • Develop end-of-trip facilities (such as showers and lockers) that encourage cycling
    • Invest in safe and secure bicycle storage at train stations and major hubs
    • Provide a safer means of cycling by creating separated bicycle paths, prioritising high risk corridors
    • Boost bike tourism by building regional bike trails and facilities
  • See the Greens Transport policy
  • The Greens’ Election Platform promises to prioritise clean, safe, affordable public and active transport.
Factcheck on state funding of cycling infrastructure
The Victorian Government funding of $100 million was to active transport (cycling and walking infrastructure) and was actually spread over 4 years. In the 2018 Victorian budget $22.7 million was allocated to connect missing links in Victoria’s walking and cycling network.
To say this all goes to cycling is not entirely accurate as the funding was for active transport (both cycling and walking infrastructure) While funding is nearly always bundled together, they both have slightly different infrastructure and funding needs. Dedicated infrastructure for both walking and cycling often gets short changed by lumping them together.
According to the budget papers the Victorian Budget 2018/19 includes almost $4.3 billion for upgrading or new roads around the state which is 69.1 percent of transport infrastructure budget funding. The overhaul of Victoria’s public transport network will get $1.9 billion which is 30.5 percent of Transport infrastructure budget funding.
In comparison, and a long way behind, the active transport budget for cycling and walking is just 0.36 per cent of the total transport infrastructure budget. Effectively a rounding error. (See article from 2018 on this calculation)
This is really a minuscule amount especially given the multiple benefits in reduced congestion, reduced air pollution, reduced carbon pollution, increase in population health benefits that accrues from a relatively small investment in cycling (ROI is very high)
Just to add insult to injury, VicRoads has deferred the work to complete the extension of the Upfield Bike Path to the Western Ring Road Path next to the M80, part of the $3.5 million allocated in the 2018 Vic budget, from 2018/19 to 2019/20, without any explanation.

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