Cities Summit promotes smart cities but budget continues focus on major roads.
May 3, 2016
In a big week for the Government, a major Smart Cities Summit excited a nation of transport and planning experts, Morrison’s first Budget continued a focus on roads and in the middle of it all the Senate Committee looking into Aspects of Road Safety slipped out an interim report with a safe passing distance legislation for vulnerable road users a key recommendation.
The past week has seen an invitation-only national forum in which the Prime Minister launched the Smart Cities Plan White Paper supported by the Assistant Minister for Cities, Environment Minister and Minister for Major Projects.Some of the best minds in economic, transport and planning policy were present to debate a new approach to funding for City Deals to drive liveability, sustainability and de-congestion in our cities.
The Cycling Promotion Fund was invited to participate as a peak body in the Summit in which policy approaches for productivity and global competitiveness were discussed. The need to calculate a wider range of benefits such as health, liveability and environmental benefits also recognised the significant limitations that apply when only travel time benefits are calculated for major transport projects.
The endorsement by Summit participants for these wider outcomes, that are key benefits provided when more people cycle for transport, was a big positive for the CPF and we looked to the Budget to get a clearer idea of where the stated ‘$50 million for accelerated planning and development works on major transformational infrastructure projects’ would come from.
The 2016 Budget last night contained $4.6 million for implementing the National Cities Agenda1 and a large number of major road projects but the investments announced at the Summit appear to be sourced from re-purposing existing infrastructure investment programs.The CPF strongly supports the Smart Cities agenda, but notes that the funding of $4.6m for the Cities Taskforce is removed after 2017-18.
To drive this agenda, a commitment must come from the Commonwealth to enforce a positive provision for active transport modes when they are funding major transport infrastructure. This is not an easy task with such an engrained roads culture across the federal bureaucracy but is vital to ensure the productivity and community benefits are locked in for future productivity.
We note that this is a priority area for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet:
‘improving the productivity, liveability and accessibility of cities through reforms that stimulate economic growth and ensure the wellbeing of current and future generations of Australians’2.The relatively low cost of including infrastructure for cycling and walking when incorporated at an early project planning stage can super-charge the quality of the resulting infrastructure and enhance many of the wider benefits sought by the Prime Minister and Assistant Minister for Cities and we look forward to supporting them in this task.
The Cycling Promotion Fund calls on the Government to pursue these aims in all investments it makes in nationally significant infrastructure and we look forward to continuing to work with Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister Taylor to make the choice to cycle for short trips a real option for many more Australians.
Budget key points:
$4.6 million in 2016‑17 to expand the Cities Taskforce and drive implementation of the Government's agenda for Australian cities.
Increases in Road to Recovery and Black Spot funding from 2019
$75 million for urban congestion in Victoria (funding already provided)
up to $50.0 million to allow the Commonwealth to adopt a more active role in preparing project and business cases with the states and territories (funding to be met from within the existing resources of the Infrastructure Investment Programme)
Financial Assistance Grant programme continued. Funds are untied, allowing councils to prioritise funding based on community need—whether to infrastructure, health, recreation, environment or employment projects. $2.3 billion will be allocated in 2016–17.
Aspects of Road Safety – interim report
In the midst of a busy Budget night, an interim report for the Senate Inquiry into Aspects of Road Safety in Australia was released. Of note for cycling, key recommendations covering better data, safety for vulnerable road users and better driver training are:
Recommendation 1: 1.44 The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government commit $150 000 for three years from 2016-17 to fund the continued operation of the Australian Trauma Registry.
Recommendation 2: 1.66 The committee recommends that the National Transport Commission amend the model Australian Road Rules to mandate a safe passing distance for drivers overtaking cyclists of one metre where the speed limit is 60 kilometres per hour or lower and 1.5 metres where the speed limit is higher, and
Recommendation 12: 3.50 The committee recommends that the Australian Curriculum includes road awareness training for both primary and secondary school students.
Contacts for more information and comments:
Stephen Hodge, Government Relations Manager, Cycling Promotion Fund.