How much should we spend on cycling in WA?

How much should we spend on cycling in WA?

An investment of between $35mio and $50mio per year is required to build a safe connected network, an expenditure that can easily be justified based on benefits of cycling or comparison with other infrastructure investment.


Investment required

Depending on the source used approx. 140 km of Principal Shared Paths need to be built to create the connected network described in the 1996 Bike Plan. If we add expenditure required in the regions and population increases, about $340mio are required over the next ten years (Catalyst 2012), or about $34mio per year. This expenditure does not include the significant investment required in the suburbs, where short trips to train stations, schools and shops would provide health and congestion benefits.


Justifying the expenditure

The Benefit to Cost Ratio (BCR) for cycling investments is about 3.4 to 1, a considerable improvement of the BCR for public transport (1:8 to 1) or roads (seldom above 1 to 1)


Based on DoT figures and calculations by Catalyst (2012) approx 22mio bicycle trips with an average length of 3.7km are undertaken each year in Perth, which is about 1.7% of all workday trips.


The National Cycling Strategy 2011 – 2016 (to which WA is a signatory) aims for a doubling of cycling trips by 2016. The newest West Australian Bike Network Plan (WABN) aims for doubling cycling trips by 2018. Whilst this 20% increase of trips per year is good, WA will fall somewhat short of the agreed Australian target.


To achieve the WABN targets, it will be necessary to add 4mio bicycle trips per work-year, or 22mio kilometres.


Method 1 (using the figure of 24¢ of benefits to the community for each km cycled):

Km22mio at $0.24 gives about $4mio per year (cumulative), with the total value of cycling currently being nearly $20mio per year.


Method 2 (using the current Public Transport subsidy of $5.41 per trip)

Public Transport is currently subsidised at about $5.41 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. People cycling to work contribute in the same way; they leave their car at home while they pedal to work, using the cheaper cycling infrastructure, and not occupying a parking spot at their destination. It is therefore logical to suggest that the value of each cycling trip to the community is similar – about $5.41 per trip. Adding 4mio bicycle trips would indicate a value of about $24 mio, with the current yearly value of trips done by people on bicycles is about $120mio.


Method 3 (using a percentage of the MainRoadsWA budget)

MainRoadsWA total budget for 2012/13 is $1.62 billion. If we fund at the level of the participation we are trying to achieve (that is, doubling participation from the current 1.7% to 3.4%) , we should be looking at 3.4% of the MainRoadsWA budget to go into cycling, or about $55 million per year.


Supporting calculations can be found here: A Business Case for Investment in Cycling in Western Australia Ian Ker 2012 Table p 54 modified H.Benz





–          Catalyst (Ian Ker) A Business Case for Investment in Cycling in Western Australia, report produced for the RAC, December 2012

–          Austroads and the Australian Bicycle Council National Cycling Strategy 2011 to 2016, September 2010

–          West Australian Bike Network Plan, unpublished draft, December 2012

About Heinrich

Promoting everyday cycling