BTA feedback to the WABN

We encourage people riding bicycles to read and comment on the West Australian Bike Network Plan 2012-2021. Feel free to use material from the draft feedback plan below.

If you are preparing your own response it should be directed to (cut and paste the address)

We will also post the comments made at the Public Feedback Session which we organised on the 5.5.12 to give you further indications on what people think.


A draft of the BTA feedback to the West Australian Bike Network plan is available as a PDF here:WA Bike Network Plan May 2012 – Feedback – 2 We are inviting comments, and feel free to plagiarise.

Below is a Word-based version of the feedback, but this might be a bit long to read online, which is why the PDF is available above.

Comments to the

West Australian Bike Network

(WABN) Plan

Targeting short trips will have the greatest potential for participation growth, and will provide improved health benefits and reduced congestion. Rather than having separate projects to increase trips to schools and train stations, a complete suburban solution should be trialled in three discreet geographical areas to get the synergy benefits. Possible areas could be found in Fremantle, Stirling and Bassendean.

We support the objective of re- aligning the Perth Bike Network (PBN) to schools, shops and train stations and closing the substantial gaps in the Principal Shared Paths system.

The recommended actions in the report are not clearly linked to this aim, and together with the low funding allocation it is unlikely that the WABN will achieve its objectives by 2021.

Depending on the approach used tripling the cycling participation by 2021 will yield between $40mio and $50mio per year in benefits. This should be the minimum yearly investment in cycling in WA. A substantial portion of this investment should happen in the suburbs to increase the number of short trips to schools, train stations, shops and places of employment.

Objectives, Recommendations and Plan of Action

The WABN needs the inclusion of a one page executive summary. The summary must clearly link the projects with the objectives, the funds required and the economic benefits.

The document needs an implementation schedule of major initiatives and projects, with milestones, so progress can be tracked and resources can be managed.

Each recommended action has to be tied to one or more of the stated objectives, together with the responsible government agency or organisation.

The WABN plan repeatedly emphasizes that the intention of the plan is to “increase cycle trips for transport purposes, i.e. to work, shops and to school”. The recommendations in the report and the funding allocations are unlikely to achieve this outcome. To make the WABN plan focused and easier to read, we suggest that the recommendations are re-sequenced, with the major initiatives explained first:

The Re-aligned Perth Bike Network (PBN)

–          The PBN network is re-aligned to schools, train stations and shops. This includes the review of traffic management on local roads, and the relevant funding parameters.

–          Instead of separate pilot projects dealing with safe access to train stations and safe access to schools, three geographical areas should be selected for combined pilot projects.

–          A PBN that is clearly aligned to schools, shops and train stations allows for measures to be taken to make these roads safe for parents, children, the elderly and cyclists. The correct speed for these routes is 30kmh. This supports the “Safe Routes to School” project. The 1996 PBN Plan contains a detailed graphic example on how this should be done, and a modified version of it should be included in the current report to explain the concept of safe routes. To quote from the 1996 Plan: “The routes are designated by signs and pavement makings so that cyclists can navigate without the need for special maps. Local bicycle routes represent exceptional value for money due to their low implementation costs and potentially high level of use.” More on the benefits of connected local bike routes here

–          The WABN (in section 10.1.2) seems to indicate that local governments build PSP’s, but this is normally done by MainRoadsWA.

–          When designing the safe routes to train stations, consideration should be given to good pedestrian and cycling access – currently access to train stations is often indirect and requires crossing signalised intersections which are prioritised for cars.

–          It has been shown that behaviour change programs to encourage people to cycle are not effective (see this systematic review of Interventions to promote cycling available at ), and therefore the emphasis should be on the provision of safe infrastructure to get more people cycling.


Principal Shared Paths (PSP)

–          The PSP project has to include PSP’s to Activity Centres as per Directions 2031. During the two year detailed design phase the linkage from the local safe bike routes to the PSP system should be included, and local councils should be encourage, via the grant process, to create these linkages.

–          The PSP’s as listed are to be completed in the sequence outlined at the WABN feedback session on the 5.5.12

–          It is not clear how major destinations such as universities and hospitals and the new Burswood stadium are accommodated in the WABN

–          During the life of the WABN some of the PSP’s will need to be upgraded to cycling only paths (e.g. City West PSP and Narrows to Mount Henry PSP). The WABN does not address this issue.


Single implementation committee


–          Review and working groups are suggested for various aspects of the program. It would be better if there is only one WABN implementation committee, which can form subcommittees for specialised tasks. Otherwise there is a danger that the various review groups (e.g. local bike routes), reference groups (e.g. for the journey planner) and working groups (e.g. traffic management on local roads) are going off in different directions.

–          The bi-annual review should be at the Head of Department level (Transport and Planning).



Measures of success


The WABN fails to quantify that the funding requested will improve transport cycling participation.

The WABN should aim to increase transport cycling participation from 1.5% (Australian Bureau of Statistics) to 3% by 2016 and to 5% by 2021. This brings the WABN into line with the National Cycling Strategy, which has been endorsed by the WA Minister for Police and the WA Minister for Transport.

The WABN states that 16000 people cycle daily to and from the CBD. This figure is likely to be wrong, and a consistent basis of measurement needs to be identified, so progress can be monitored with confidence.

A logical sequence is: establish the economic benefits of going from 1.5% bicycle commuting to 5%, identify the projects that will achieve the goal, and then calculate the funding required.

An un-costed plan will quickly become an unfunded plan.


benefits of cycling

Community Benefits of Cycling


To substantiate the need for funding, this section should be enlarged, and clearly show the benefits of increased cycling participation to the community.

Further background reading to deepen the arguments for cycling benefits could be useful, for instance the following papers:

–          A report sponsored by the US Department of Transportation that examines how five European countries improve pedestrian and cycling participation. The report recommends transportation policies that give walking, bicycling and other non motorised modes the highest priority in the road user hierarchy.

–          Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler, in Transport Reviews, Vol.28, 2008 available at

–          Sustainable Transport that Works: Lessons from Germany (May 2009) in World Transport Policy and Practice, Volume 15, Number 1, available at


An important social benefit often missed is the improved mental health as a result of reduced stress levels – cycling to and from work reduces stress levels, particularly as it eliminates traffic frustration and congestion.


Economic Benefits of Cycling

The section on economic benefits is very important to justify the funding required to complete the recommendations in the WABN by 2021. It needs better data.

A study in Copenhagen suggests that each mile driven by a car results in a net cost of 20cents, whilst a mile cycled results in a net benefit of 35 cents (that would be about 22 cents per km). The full study is available here

In the absence of local data the economic benefits of cycling can be based on the AECOM report for the City of Sydney in 2010, which shows that the benefit to cost ratio is $3.88 in benefits for every one dollar spent. The very detailed full report can be found here

Other paper dealing with the economic benefits of cycling:

–          The British Cycling Economy available at,

–           The Economic feasibility assessment of the Active Transport Policy prepared for the Qld Department of Transport in 2009 by Marsden Jacob Associates

–          UK Cycling Demo Towns available at

–          Economic Benefits of Cycling in Australia available at

–          Bike lanes’ economic benefits go beyond jobs available at




The funding suggested is inadequate for the projects outlined. Funding should be related to the benefits of increased cycling participation. To achieve an increase in commuting cycling from 1.5% to 5%, funding needs to be at the 5% level or the WABN will not progress.

The WABN plan suggests that the cost to build 1km of PSP is about $910000. It is our understanding the most recent PSP project, the PSP from Tonkin Highway to Bassendean station, is 2.3km in length, costing $3.6mio, or about $1.6mio per km. This section of the PSP will cross two roads at grade, is on level ground in an existing railway reserve and does not require lighting as it is running next to Guildford road.

134.7 km of PSP are still outstanding from the 1996 PBN plan. No PSP’s are identified to the Activity Centres. At a cost of $1.6mio per km to build a PSP, at least $214mio would be required to finish these sections of the PSP system. Even at the low estimate of $1mio per km $134mio would be required. If funding proceeds in line with the recent announcement by the Minister for Transport, the $7.75mio allocated yearly for PSPs will provide $78mio in the nine year life of the plan. This will allow only for 30% to 50% of the planned PSPs to be built.

How much funding can be justified?

The funding needs to be at the cycling participation levels we aim for, which we put at 5% in 2021 as measured by the ABS census. This means a three-fold increase on the current 1.5% participation rate. Currently about 3mio trips per year are counted on the PSP system – to be in line with the National Cycling Strategy 2011 – 2016 this should double by 2016, and from there on progress to about 10mio trips by 2021.

Method 1 (using the figure of 22cents of benefits to the community for each km cycled):

Bicycle commuting trips in Perth average 10 km each, thus 10mio trips would total 100mio km cycled. Using the figure of 22cents per km, we estimate that the PSP system as it currently stands would yield $22mio per year in benefits. Completing the PSP system would add 134 km, doubling the system size and the trips, yielding $44mio per year in benefits.

Method 2 (using the current Public Transport subsidy of $5 per trip)

Public Transport is currently subsidised at the level of about $5 per boarding. This is the value to the community of a person using public transport instead of a private car, and the reduced road usage. A person cycling to work contributes in the same way; he leaves his car at home whilst he pedals to work, using the cheaper cycling infrastructure, and not occupying a parking spot at his destination. It is therefore logical to suggest that his value to the community is similar – about $5 per trip. At the aimed for figure of 5% participation this would about $50mio per year.

Method 3 (using a % of the MainRoadsWA budget)

MainRoadsWA total budget for 2012/13 is $1.62billion. If we fund at the level of the participation we are trying to achieve, we should be looking at 5% of the MainRoadsWA budget to go into cycling, or about $80mio.


The funding focus is on the PSP system. With about 11000 commuters cycling into the CBD per day, and many of these not entering via the PSP system, it is important that non-PSP funding is substantial. According to Department of Planning and Infrastructure report “The truth about Travel in Perth: Facts and Myths” 50% of all car trips in Perth are less than 5km. This is a huge untapped potential where bicycle trips could replace car trips, and substantial funding has to be allocated to build infrastructure to create safe routes to schools, shops, train stations and places of employment. The $2mio per year to Local Government are insufficient to drive this change and to realise the benefits of reduced car travel in the suburbs.


Harmonizing with “Directions 2031” and the “National Cycling Strategy 2011 to 2016”


There will be a requirement to connect the Major Activity Centres with PSP’s in the same way the PSP’s are currently all connected to the Perth CBD. The report does not identify these additional PSP’s, and in contrast to Directions 2031, remains CBD centric.

The National Cycling Strategy (NCS), which has been formally endorsed by the WA Government, aims to double cycling by 2016. The WA plan should aim for the same increase, and show the economic benefits that result from that increase.

Section 2.1.2 in the WABN tries to summarise the National Cycling Strategy. To do so correctly the comment on the overarching vision needs to be extended- the overarching vision in the NCS includes doubling cycling participation, not just a change in attitude. The NCS aims at providing an environment that enables people to ride bicycles safely. The WABN changes “enable” to “encourage” – a big difference. The word “encourage” makes the cyclist responsible for his/her own safety, whilst the word “enable” asks for the government to initiate measures to allow people to ride bicycles safely.


Aligning the WABN plan to the aims of the National Cycling Strategy, which has been signed off by the WA Police and Transport Ministers, will make the WA plan more solid. A summary of the National Cycling Strategy can be found here

The ultimate responsibility between State and local councils for strategic bicycle planning remains unclear.


On-line journey planner


With the WABN plan focusing on people riding to schools, shops, train stations and work, an Online Journey Planner looses importance. It can be argued that for the shorter trips people will easily find the safe routes, and for the longer commuting trips most people use the same route all the time. People riding to work will learn their route after one ride. Thus the journey planner would mainly serve people who need to find a way to a non-work destination outside their own locality. There are a number of tools already available that provide this service.






3 WABN claims that it links to the National Cycling Strategy (NCS) – not clear if it does. The NCS wants to double the number of people cycling by 2016 (p.20) and asks states to establish clear targets (p.23), based on an agreed baseline to measure progress (p.25).
4 The figure of $0.5mio to $0.91mio per km of path is very optimistic. Recent work done cost $2mio per km of path.
6 Connecting schools: the WABN is not the right tool to drive behaviour change, and generally parents will look for a safe physical environment before they let their children cycle to school.

Questionable mathematics in the car park comparison – if $50mio are needed to provide 3000 parking spots, then 18 car bays cost $300’000 (not $125’000)


10 NCS is misquoted
11 Alignment to Directions 2031 is tenuous
13 Numbers? Sources? Referencing?
14 Figure 4.1 is not backed up by data. Cycling into the CBD – perhaps 11000 people per day
15 Irrelevant. It is not bicycles sold, but trips made that is the basis of planning
16 Figure 4.3 is incorrectly labelled – it shows trips counted on the PSP system, not cyclists
18 The review process was done in 2007, before Directions 2031.
20 The consultation process was carried out in 2007, before Directions 2031

Funding History: without cost/benefit information Governments are reluctant to fund.

21 Good objectives – projects and actions should be tied to them.
23 7.3 Local Bicycle Routes – of the 1200 planned in 1996 only half got established
26 Omits connection between Activity Centres – it is still CBD centric
28 Map is irrelevant
30 Is there a difference between Principal Shared Paths and Major Shared Paths? Same for the Recreational Shared Paths and Local Bicycle Routes etc
32 Section 10.1 states that Local Government Grants should be used to address gaps in the PSP system – but PSP’s are not a Local Government responsibility.
34 Electronic hazard reporting system – already exists? (NeatStreets, BikeBlackSpot.Org)

Governance and Tasks must be clearly aligned to the objectives of the WABN

37 Major initiatives and projects should be costed and scheduled to establish when money is needed
39 The gap analysis relates to the 1996 plan – this should be stated
40 Points 10 and 23 need measurable performance indicators to be meaningful

Point 6 is not addressed in the WABN


About Heinrich

Promoting everyday cycling