Pedalling a way out of congestion

The answer to traffic congestion in our capital cities isn’t in cutting back permanent migration, it’s in investing and creating space for active transport.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison talks of population plans and cutting annual migration with the justification that “I want Australians to spend less time in traffic and more time with their families, being able to get on site or get to work sooner and safer.”

But if Mr Morrison truly wants to bust congestion and protect the future liveability our cities and towns, he must make it easier for more people to ride, walk and catch public transport.

We won’t have smart, healthy, connected and productive cities until we unlock the potential of our transport systems by funding more healthy, cost-efficient and sustainable ways to get around.

An integrated, multi-modal transport system is Australia’s greatest preventative health mechanism and congestion-busting tool.

The long-term benefits of getting more people moving around our cities by bike are well established.

Increasing bicycle mode share improves our health, saves money, reduces congestion, improves connectivity and access to employment and positively impacts the sustainability and liveability of our communities.

But the Commonwealth Government continues to short change people who ride.

Despite “supporting measures to increase all aspects of active transport in Australian communities” for too long the government has failed to invest or work with State Governments to deliver bike infrastructure or programs that we desperately need.

The Commonwealth Government holds important influence on the provision of economic and social infrastructure that has a major bearing on the community’s wellbeing.

With an election only months away, the momentum is building for change. Major parties have an opportunity to set a national agenda that shifts our communities towards active transport. Australians want to ride bikes and get active, but we need transformative and accountable federal leadership.

In our federal budget submission, Bicycle Network set out clear priorities for the government to get more people moving around by bike. 

A federal commitment to bike infrastructure funding which separates riders from vehicles is crucial.

As is funding behaviour change programs, like Ride2School, that make bike riding a social norm and build a lifetime of healthy habits for young people.

Only when we make it easier for more people to ride can we truly reap the rewards of moving and connecting more happy and healthy people.

Image: SMH