Bike paths “transport infrastructure” for first time

Bicycle paths in inner Sydney have been classified as transport infrastructure for the first time.

Infrastructure Australia had declared that the 248km Inner Sydney Regional Bike Network was an Early Stage Project on the priority list, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

The network could cover 15 council areas and 164 suburbs within 10km of the city centre and its inclusion in Infrastructure Australia’s list of priority projects was a step towards securing the $185 million in funding needed over eight years to get the job done, Ms Moore said.

The proposed plan included links between individual council’s existing bike path networks and new paths.

Infrastructure Australia assesses and analyses major projects for Federal Government funding.

Ms Moore said the Federal Government report released at the same time on July 31 showed that for each person who cycled 20 minutes to work and back, the economy benefited by $21.20.

The report — Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport: supporting active travel in Australian communities — was released by Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

It highlighted a point that the Sydney City Council had long been making – investing in active transport was actually good for the city’s economy, Ms Moore said.

Active transport reduced the burden of traffic congestion, saved on the need to build more roads, cut the cost of vehicle maintenance and reduced health costs by keeping people healthier.

“A study by leading international consultancy AECOM forecast a 71 per cent increase in bike trips by 2026 if the 284 km network across 164 suburbs was built,” Ms Moore, who rides a bike as transport, said.

“There are already twice as many Sydneysiders riding bikes for transport than the national average and overall numbers have grown by more than 100 per cent in two years. But the numbers will stop growing if we can’t finish the bike network.

“We have nearly $6 million worth of contracts ready to go for the completion of the Kent Street Cycleway, which would provide access to the city’s financial district, including Barangaroo, for thousands of people.

“The project is waiting for approval from the NSW Government Central Sydney Traffic and Transport Committee, which was created to provide co-ordination and certainty but has only met once this year. Every month we hold off signing a contract for Kent Street, construction costs increase.”

In August last year, Ms Moore accused the State Liberal Government of playing politics with the Bike Network, saying that the network was working – independent counts showed an 82 per cent increase in riding in Sydney over the previous two years and it was growing at a faster rate than any other comparable city worldwide.

Premier Barry O’Farrell opposed the cycle paths the former Labor Government of Kristina Keneally – who rode a bike to work – had built and planned

Ms Keneally and Ms Moore both commute by bicycle.

“Crazy bike lanes” would go from Sydney’s main roads, Mr O’Farrell pledged two days before he was elected to office on March 26, 2011.

Mr O’Farrell said at that time that Ms Moore – then also an Independent MP for an inner city seat – had “deliberately set out to inconvenience motorists” with the city’s 200km bike network.

“I don’t believe it was just about providing safe bike paths into the city,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“I think it was also about trying to stop cars coming into the city.

Ms Moore said at that time that no traffic lanes had been taken out for cycleways or shared paths and that the numbers of bike riders had doubled and tripled in areas where links had been built.

“The cycleways are there to provide another transport option for those who live close to the city centre,” she said.

“Once the network has been built it will take 300,000 car trips daily off the road – easing congestion and freeing up valuable road space for those who do need to drive.”

“Cycling has grown by more than 40 per cent in inner Sydney in just six months and bicycles have outsold cars for a decade.  Yet less than 0.2 per cent of the State transport budget goes to supporting cycling infrastructure.  The City of Sydney developed the cycleways by getting federal funding.”

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