Last Wednesday’s (December 14th) West Australian had two interesting articles (there may have been more, but these two were of particular interest to me).
The first on page 18 was headed Investment in cycling ‘top value’ and reported on a research commissioned by the RAC into the economic, social, health and environmental benefits of investing in cycling infrastructure. You can read the summary business case derived from this report here
The report has calculated that the overall benefits of cycling infrastructure to the community can be up to 5.4 times greater than the cost of construction, and identifies the need to invest at least $267 million in cycling infrastructure over a 10 year period to repair and enlarge the current infrastructure which has suffered from from lack of investment, failure to keep pace with population growth and changing priorities with resulting poor planning and network gaps.
That the RAC is involved is significant as it would seem that they acknowledge that there is a limit to road enlargement, and the most practical wayof managing increasing congestion is to encourage the use of alternative transport (walk, cycle, bus and train) for routine and short trips.
The response by the Transport Minister was more predictable; lot of demand on government funds and $13.6 million to be spent on cycling infrastructure this year – no mention of subsequent years.
Then on page 28 “Airport toll road ‘best for Perth”. This is described in the article as ‘a brainchild of the Transport Minister’ who plans to spend an estimated $1 billion building a expressway(no traffic lights or intersections) between Perth and the airport. I wonder what percentage of airport users actually travel between Perth and the airport, still lets not let facts get in the way of a ‘good’ idea. Various people have suggested that the road should be a toll road in an attempt to recover some costs, but this was quickly ruled out by the Transport Minister.
So for $1 billion the government constructs an expressway to the airport, the need for which has not been quantified and is unlikely to provide any benefit to the community as a whole, whereas for 25% of the expressway cost, community beneficial cycling infrastructure could be funded for 10 years.