Australia’s State cycle advocacy groups are presenting a unified voice to the Federal Government on both its Budget, delivered last month, and its National Electric Vehicle Strategy discussion paper.
After a number of peak bike advocacy groups expressed some disappointment over a perceived lack of Budget funding to active transport, We Ride Australia coordinated a joint Budget submission from the State organisations.
Several advocacy organisations contacted by the Micromobility Report welcomed some positives about the Labor Government’s first Federal Budget in nine years but overall said they were disappointed by the low level of allocations to active transport.
Bicycle NSW CEO Peter McLean said it was “very pleasing to see the Federal Government’s budget investing in social equity”, including the NDIS, health, aged care, affordable housing and parental leave.
However, he went on to say “active transport is another critical social equity measure which also achieves exceptional social, environmental, health and economic benefits”.
“We can’t allow access to jobs, healthcare and other vital services to only be accessible through a motor vehicle or public transport which are becoming unaffordable to many,” he said.
“This was a missed opportunity to invest in a transport system that can assist the Government to achieve their transport emissions reductions.”
“Active transport helps address this inequity and is a vital ingredient of a wellbeing budget. Therefore, active transport must be considered a higher priority by all governments.”
Similarly, We Ride Australia labelled the Federal Budget a “missed opportunity”.
We Ride Australia’s executive officer, Peter Bourke, said: “We are pleased that the Labor Government has chosen to deliver the Coalition’s budget commitment to support safer cycling through funding $6 million to the Amy Gillett Foundation.
“This funding will support specific programs, but we are aware that a lack of strategic connected infrastructure is critical to supporting more Australians to ride bicycles.
“The bicycle sector contributes $6.3 billion directly to the Australian economy per year, and this was a missed opportunity to invest in a transport system that can assist the Government to achieve their transport emissions reductions.
“We look forward to working with the Government to identify future opportunities for investment and support of cycling.”
New Pedal Power ACT executive office Simon Copland celebrated the Federal Government’s confirmation it would jointly fund a $5 million Canberra’s Garden City Cycle Route, sharing the cost with the ACT Government.
The project was an election pledge by Labor and will include a number of off-road paths and on-road separated bike lanes, covering five kilometres through the inner north, and travelling through Watson, Downer, Dickson, Ainslie, Braddon, and the Canberra CBD.
“We will be keeping an eye on that to make sure it’s a property designed project,” Simon said.
“And $5 million is great but it’s small change compared to some other projects that get funded.
“For a government that wants to talk about climate change, this is an integral part of what they should be doing.
“Replacing traditional vehicles with electric vehicles does little to address road safety, slow congestion, or improve the health and well-being of Australians.”
“Infrastructure funding is really targeted towards roads, which is a real problem if we want a sustainable future. We need to be shifting those funds away from roads and towards active and public transport.”
National Electric Vehicle Strategy
With submissions closing on Monday for the National Electric Vehicle Strategy, the nation’s advocacy organisations have called on the Federal Government to include e-bikes in the completed strategy.
The joint submission called on the Federal Government to lead the way in taking a broader view to ensure that e-bikes are included in the strategy.
“Replacing traditional vehicles with electric vehicles does little to address road safety, slow congestion, or improve the health and well-being of Australians,” Bicycle Queensland CEO Rebecca Randazzo said in a social media comment about the submission.
The We Ride Australia submission, compiled in collaboration with national, State and Territory bicycle organisations, “strongly supports” the Federal Government’s goals to make all EVs more affordable and expand uptake, leading to lower emissions and costs for Australians.
However, it strongly advocate for e-bikes to be included to transition to a cleaner transport fleet.
“With e-bikes, e-cargo bikes and micromobility increasingly popular as car replacements for daily commuting trips – providing accessible and affordable mobility options due to their significantly lower acquisition and running costs than EVs and the fact they are viable for the short transport trips that make up half of all trips each day in Australia – we have called for e-bikes, e-cargo bikes and micro-mobility to be explicitly included in the National Strategy,” We Ride says in a statement issued this week.
“And increases in active travel (walk, ride and public transport) can happen really fast! The massive behaviour change that occurred during the pandemic and how quickly international cities such as Paris have been transformed once steps were taken to make riding bikes easier, safer and more convenient is proof of the potential for rapid increases in bike use and walking.
“The organisations co-signing our submission represent the 10.19 million Australians who choose to ride a bicycle in a given year. The opportunity is huge.
“The fleet is already sitting ready to be deployed, with a new sales record of 1.7 million bicycles in the year to 30 June 2021.”
It says electric vehicles (EVs) will need construction of national infrastructure networks of chargers, upgrades to power transmission grids and a highly developed market for second hand EVs – all some years into the future.
“And we also know Australians would ride more given better support, conditions and incentives,” the statement continues.
“While the job is not the Commonwealth Government’s alone, providing options for people to walk, ride and catch more public transport saves us money and contributes to health, environmental and community benefits across the board.”