Cyclists seek some of $90m parking levy

Cyclists in Melbourne want money from the $90 million city congestion parking levy tax to be spent on improving conditions […]

Cyclists in Melbourne want money from the $90 million city congestion parking levy tax to be spent on improving conditions for bicycle commuters.
Bicycle Network Victoria said the State Government levy was expected to raise more than $90 million next financial year and even a modest proportion of that could go a long way to fixing the desperate need for more bicycle infrastructure.
Melbourne’s congestion parking levy tax has risen to $1300 a calendar year from January 1 to deter people from driving their cars into the city and raise money for alternative programs such as better public transport and cycling.
The levy area also has been extended from just the central business district to inner suburbs – the rough equivalent in Perth would be West Perth, West Leederville, Northbridge to Newcastle Street and Leederville – which get a $950 a year tax from January 1, 2015.
Another big change is that it has been extended to all parking bays including short-term parking.
Previously it was aimed at all-day parking and applied only to bays occupied continuously for more than four hours.
Victorian Treasurer Michael O’Brien said the levy money would be used for “significant public transport upgrades, particularly in that inner Melbourne area”.
Retailers groups, property consultants and other groups said abolishing the four-hour limit would deter people from shopping in the city and doing business with professional practices such as accountants and lawyers.
They said it would adversely affect businesses and professionals because competition would hinder them passing on the increased cost, which was a tax on a business input.
The levy has risen 130 per cent since it began in 2006.
BNV said the City of Melbourne’s current $2.6 million bike budget was funded from the Government levy, along with another $3.9 million spent on street-scape improvements, including bike facilities.
When the levy began on surrounding councils, money from it also could go to those councils.
“Getting people on bikes is by far the most cost-efficient way of reliving congestion on the roads and in public transport. About 40 per cent of commuters would be happy to take a bike to work if attractive bike networks were provided,” it said.
However, the Government has not said what the bulk of the levy money was being used for.
“The Government says it goes to road and public transport projects. But there is no transparency. For all we know the ‘road’ projects could be increasing traffic and congestion.
“With the huge money being raised by the levy and intended for congestion solutions, there can be no more excuses from government, current and future, that they can afford to provide for bikes.”

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Promoting everyday cycling