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Australian Cyclists Party tackles low NSW bike infrastructure spending

Alia Parker's picture
Cyclist in Washington DC rides in a bicycle lane. Cycle Traveller. Source: Shutterstock.

Candidates from Australia's new cycling political party are preparing to contest their first NSW state election this month amid the state's relatively low cycling infrastructure spending.

On 28 March, 15 candidates from the Australian Cyclists Party (ACP) will run for seats in the NSW Upper House and seven for the Lower House, including Balmain, Newtown, Newcastle, Manly, Willoughby, North Shore and Goulburn. A list of Candidates appears on the ACP website. 

The ACP said it aims to win representation for cyclists and focus on key areas of transport, health and planning priorities. It said despite records showing there to be more than one million regular cyclists in NSW, the state had one of the lowest levels of investment in cycling infrastructure in the country.

Omar Khalifa, president and founder of the ACP, said with the population set to grow 40% by 2050, NSW could not continue to focus on road building to solve its problems. He said investment in cycling infrastructure was one solution to several difficult challenges, including growing congestion and health issues, such as escalating rates of obesity and diabetes.

“The NSW Government says that a safe and connected network of bicycle paths is an important part of Sydney’s integrated transport system. Yet for decades there has been insufficient funding allocated, and almost no progress has been made on building one,” said Mr Khalifa, who will run for a seat in the Upper House.

Victorian-based Bicycle Network, which recently launched its Vote Bike 2015 campaign, said NSW had fallen behind the rest of Australia in its bike infrastructure and would need to deliver a $310 million Bicycle Infrastructure Fund to catch up. 

“The figures show that NSW spends only $4.22 per person on cycling infrastructure, lagging behind other states including Victoria and Queensland who spend more,” Craig Richards, chief executive of Bicycle Network said.

“This means people in NSW aren’t riding a bike and benefiting from getting active – even if they are interested – because the paths and lanes needed just aren’t there.”

Mr Khalifa said investment in cycling infrastructure was being adopted by a growing number of countries around the world as a cost effective way of improving transportation.

“Cycling can no longer be seen in isolation or as a car versus bicycle debate – we need to see cycling in its greater context as a solution to several difficult challenges we face, not only within NSW but across the nation,” he said.

The ACP selected the seats it would contest at the upcoming NSW election based on cycling support in those areas and the focus on the districts of key ministers who have so far failed to adequately support and promote cycling as part of their responsibilities.

These Lower House seats include those held by Premier Michael Baird, Transport for NSW Minister Gladys Berejiklian, Health Minister Jillian Skinner and Planning Minister Pru Goward.

The NSW state election will be the second election contested by the ACP following its formation and participation in the 2014 Victorian state election, in which it only contested seats in the Upper House. The party received 20,699 first preference votes and 0.61% of the overall vote. It did not succeed in winning a seat.

In comparison, the Sex Party received 89,737 votes, or 2.63%, and won one seat in the Upper House, while the Shooters and Fishers Party Victoria received 56,527 votes, or 1.65%, and won two seats.

Mr Khalifa said the ACP represents people from all ideological backgrounds with a common interest in raising a voice for the country's bicycle users.

“They come from Sydney and across the state and believe government has failed to respond adequately to the critical transport, planning and health issues facing our communities,” he said. “The lack of progress on cycling issues is in every way an indicator of that failure.”

Image: A cyclist rides in a bicycle lane in Washington DC, US, one of the global cities investing in bicycle infrastructure. Source: Shutterstock.


James's picture

Ah Washington DC, I love the bike hire, the cycleways, the cycle "trails" outside town and the fact that I can ride a bike for nearly 6 hours and only needed to dodge one taxi and the driver apologised!

Alia Parker's picture

Interesting too to see the bike lane is in the centre of the road. Quite clever because the cyclists can't get car doored out there.

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