Victorian Government Cuts Cycling Funding to Zero
Until now,Victoria has been showing the way compared to her perennial rival, New South Wales, when it comes to state government funding of cycling infrastructure.
Starting from a low base in the 1990’s, funding for bicycle facilities gradually grew to a peak of $16.3 million in 2010/11. During most of time, Labour state governments were in power.
Before and shortly after its election in 2011, the new Liberal government led by Premier Ted Baillieu reassured the cycling community that cycling would continue as a priority of the new government.
As reported by Bicycle Network Victoria, in a speech to the Bike Futures Conference in late 2011,Victoria’s Transport Minister Terry Mulder said, “I want to use today to formally restate the government support for cycling.
“Our position on cycling is quite clear – we recognise cycling as an important transport mode.
“We want to lift the status of the two wheeled option beyond solely recreational and into realms of very serious transport, to encourage cycling as a means of replacing the many short trips undertaken by car or public transport and to integrate cycling into the mainstream of private transport.
“I’m certainly keen to remove any stigma that might be attached to cycling that it’s not a valid mode of transport.
“I recognise that cycling is one of a number of ways we can meet the huge growth in demand for transport, particularly peak hour transport.”
Given these comments, you can imagine the shock when the government handed down its latest budget, cutting cycling funding to zero.
Bicycle Network Victoria CEO Harry Barber called for a public protest on Thursday 21st June. Despite heavy rain, hundreds of cyclists came and unfurled a symbolic fabric blue bike lane, leading from the steps of Parliament.
In a statement released that day, Mr Barber said "Ted Baillieu’s Government has snubbed the 1.1 million Victorians riding a bike every week and ignored the million more who want to join in but are waiting for appropriate facilities to appear,” Bicycle Network Victoria Chief Executive Officer Harry Barber said.
“We wanted to tell the Baillieu Government that we are amazed and disappointed that they seem to think doing nothing on bike infrastructure is an option – it’s not.
“The Baillieu Government has not grasped the unique ability of bikes to improve the carrying-capacity of our already congested road network. The simple truth is more cars can’t be added to already jammed roads but what we can do, for a small investment, is move thousands more people along existing roadways just by installing appropriate bike facilities.”