Federal Government Announces $100 million Active Transport Fund

On Tuesday 7th June the federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King MP announced that the following Tuesday’s federal budget would include $100 million in funding to set up a new national Active Transport Fund. We anticipate that this money will be spent over four years at $25 million per year.

This fund would be specially to upgrade and deliver new cycling and walking paths.

“The program guidelines will be developed in consultation with states and territories are expected to be made public ahead of a 1 July 2025 start,” the release said.

“Safe and accessible active transport options, like walking and cycling, help boost social connection, promote healthy choices and make our cities and regions more vibrant places to live.”

Portrait of Catherine King MP
Catherine King MP. Photo credit www.catherineking.com.au

The announcement is a victory for the Australian bicycle industry, advocacy community and people who ride. There have been a few one-off grants for various projects, but in the 123 years since federation, this is the first time that a federal government has announced a dedicated, ongoing program for bike infrastructure. This follows decades of tireless lobbying for this to happen.

In response, Stephen Hodge from the bicycle industry funded national advocacy group We Ride Australia said, “In meetings with the Minister and her office we have been advocating for measures that would respond to the appetite of many more Australians who want to ride for short, local trips in their communities.

“We have argued that active transport has the potential to assist governments provide affordable and equitable options for daily transport.

“Options that reduce congestion, save money and just make sense for the trips every day in this country that are just five kilometres or less – it’s 50%!”

“We’re pleased to see this announcement from the Minister and will be continuing the conversation to drive real change that will make it easier for kids to ride to school, people to commute to work and everyone to have just a bit more enjoyment when the choice to ride is more convenient, safe and attractive.”

Meanwhile the Greens have stated that the government needs to go much further.

“Spread between Australia’s 86 cities and regional centres, it will equate to just over $290,000 a year each for active transport infrastructure, while roads get $10 billion a year,” transport and sustainable cities spokeswoman Elizabeth Watson-Brown said.

Ms Watson-Brown said it also falls far short of the 20 per cent of federal transport funding for active transport called for by the Climate Council in its 2023 Shifting Gear report, which argues that figure is necessary to meet Australia’s Paris Agreement obligations to combat urban traffic congestion.

An Open Letter from Matthew Bazzano

Matthew Bazzano is the long-time CEO of Shimano Australia Cycling. More relevant to this conversation he was a founding Director of We Ride Australia and also served on the board of Bicycle Industries Australia (BIA).

When the Federal Budget news was announced, Matthew shared the following open letter:

In the lead up to this year’s federal budget, the Minister for Transport announced a $100 million Active Transport Fund. This is a historical announcement as this is only the second time the federal Government has included bicycle infrastructure in a budget, after a $40 million stimulus program in 2009.

This funding announcement is not the result of a letter or a meeting, but the result of years of effort, work which has been led by We Ride Australia since its foundations in 2000 as the Cycling Promotion Fund.

As a founding board member of We Ride Australia, I am proud of the role I and all of the other board and staff have played to achieve this outcome, much of which goes unseen.

In 2000, key leaders of the Australian bicycle industry, including my father, agreed that the bicycle industry had a responsibility to work together to achieve ‘more people riding bikes’.

The names of those meeting that day read like a who’s who of the Australian bike industry at the time. Noel McFarlane (Gemini), Geoff Ward (Bikecorp), Graeme West (Giant Bicycles), Felicity Dales (Body Torque), Tony Cook (Clarence St Cyclery), Ian Sims (Greenspeed), John Struthers (Sheppard Industries), Graham Southcott (Southcott) Phil Latz (Bicycling Australia) and John Bazzano (Shimano Australia) came together to establish and fund the Cycling Promotion Fund, and a national voice for riding was born.

The CPF then engaged Rosemarie Speidel as the General Manager, who had a huge amount of energy, the dial began to move.

Two critical changes then set the scene for the next big shift. A strategic move to focus on ‘Canberra’ and federal Parliament in 2010 and evolving the CPF to WeRide as an independent charity in 2017 provided the organisation with the right structure to achieve real change.

Advocacy is often a thankless task and with We Ride not delivering community rides or providing rider insurance, much of its work went unseen by many.

Whether it is 15 years of Riders on the Hill, the formation of the Parliamentary Friends of Cycling, the participation in Labor and Liberal advisory panels, parliamentary and policy submissions, meetings, partnerships or the release of the Australian Cycling Economy Report, We Ride has strategically changed the federal narrative to achieve investment in programs and investments that support riders.

As recently written, there are many strong advocacy groups around Australia, but We Ride is unique, and working with Government it can take a while to find things to celebrate, but the $100million is something we need to acknowledge and continue to support.

With all We Ride board members since its transition in 2017, Neelesh Mehta, Amanda Stevens, Adrian Smith, David Steadman, Laura Wilson, Osher Gunsberg, Pete Williams and Scott Taylor, and the staff, Peter Bourke and Stephen Hodge, I am proud of just how much has been achieved since the CPF founders kicked this off over two decades ago.

$100 million is a very public and immediate win, but it’s great to acknowledge the impact of other less public, but highly important policies, such as work on getting bike infrastructure funding through positive provisioning, lobbying for e-bike incentives, participating in getting Austroads to improve their guidelines, a federally funded ride to school program, climate change policy, health policy evaluation guidelines on infrastructure funding and more.

In 2000, Australia Bicycle industry leaders identified a responsibility to invest to grow our sector, we now have a recognised voice for cycling nationally and this $100 million national fund just reinforces why brands need to continue to invest.

With my father being one of the founding group of the CPF and myself a founding board member of We Ride, I am proud of what we have achieved and sure the We Ride future legacy will continue to benefit the industry.

Tuesday’s announcement is one of the public victories, and with the support of the sector, I look forward to the enduring impact of We Ride Australia as our voice in the national debate for many years to come.


Matt Bazzano

Part of this article was previously published at governmentnews.com.au

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