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Media Release – Time to re-think transport strategies

5 November 2012

Living Streets Canberra will call on the new ACT Government to re-think its transport strategies, after Census results1 showed that Canberra's Sustainable Transport Plan has failed to achieve its 2011 target of a 20% mode share for walking, cycling and public transport (see graph below).

Achieving the twenty per cent target for journeys to work in 2011 would have required a five per cent increase on the 2006 figure. The actual increase was one eighth of one per cent.

Sydney, Melbourne and Perth all increased their combined walking, cycling and public transport mode shares by two per cent. “We need to learn from these cities,” says Living Streets Chair Leon Arundell, “and apply those lessons here in Canberra.”

The total number of trips to work increased by 14%, from 149,000 to 169,000. The biggest mode share shifts were a 0.6% fall in car passengers, and a corresponding increase in people driving themselves to work.

Canberra's public transport mode share was targeted to increase from 8% to 10%, and walking was targeted to increase from 5% to 6%. Both showed slight declines.

Cycling was targeted to double from 2.5% to 5%, but its mode share increased by only a quarter of a per cent.

Living Streets attributes the increase in cycling to improved infrastructure. Civic is well serviced with on-road cycle lanes and off-road shared paths. Pedal Power's annual cordon counts show that the number of cyclists commuting into Civic increased by 40% between 2006 and 2011. This is much higher than the 24% increase in numbers that the census recorded for the ACT as a whole.

The 2012 cordon count was the first to include other Town Centres, and also to count pedestrians. It counted thirty-six cyclists for every hundred pedestrians in Civic. At other town centres, which are less well serviced with cycling facilities, it counted only seventeen cyclists for each hundred pedestrians.

Improved cycling infrastructure has encouraged more adults to cycle to Civic,” says Living Streets Chair Leon Arundell. Likewise, better infrastructure can encourage more people to walk or cycle to other Town Centres, to walk to bus or light rail stops, and to let their children walk or cycle to school.”

Living Streets believes that Canberra's declining rate of child cycling puts the future of cycling at risk. In 2006 the average Australian child cyclist spent 5.8 hours per fortnight riding, and 71% of Canberra's children rode bikes. By 2009 these figures had fallen to 4.7 hours and 63%2 respectively. These changes add up to a ten per cent annual decline in child cycling.

If these trends continue, then within a generation few child cyclists will graduate to become adult cyclists,” says Mr Arundell. “Part of the solution will be to provide local paths that are suitable for children to cycle on.

Media contact: Leon Arundell, Chair, Living Streets Canberra, phone 0431 979 184, email walk[at]grapevine.net.au

1Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census 2011 Place of Enumeration Community Profiles, Method of Travel to Work, e.g. ACT.

2Australian Bureau of Statistics Series 4901.0: Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities.