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Cycling infrastructure is cost effective as a transport mode

Australian Bicycle Council

The Australian Bicycle Council in its communique, ABC Meeting #41 Cairns held on August 2 – 3, 2012 included an interesting look at the cost of cycling infrastructure compared to other transport modes. Whilst this commentary is in the context of Queensland it is reasonable to assume that the context is transferrable across Australia. In Queensland the average cost to plan and construct one kilometre of separated bicycle path is $1.5 million; considerably less than the next alternative, one kilometre of railway.

Of course this comparison is rather simplistic in that it does not take into consideration usage, asset life and maintenance costs nor the benefits to society that comes from cycling infrastructure but still it gives us an interesting insight into how much cycling infrastructure can be built in comparison to other transport options.

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads has done an interesting comparative analysis looking at what the cost of one kilometre of alternative transport modes could build in terms of cycling infrastructure.

Queensland infrastrucutre costs

How much cycling infrastructure can be brought for the cost of one kilometre of …

  • 1 km of Underground Rail costs the equivalent of 533 km of bikeway
  • 1 km of Road Tunnel costs the equivalent of 324 km of bikeway
  • 1 km of Busway costs the equivalent of 138 km of bikeway
  • 1 km of Motorway/Road costs the equivalent of 110 km of bikeway
  • 1 km of Rail costs the equivalent of 29 km of bikeway

The limitations notwithstanding, the comparison highlights just how low cost bicycling infrastructure is in comparison to other public transport infrastructure.

Queensland in its 2011-20121 cycling strategy has four priorities which I feel are worth of note and taking on board in Western Australia’s forthcoming bicycle plan.  The four priority areas are:

  • Priority area one: Building safe, direct and connected cycle networks This priority is delivered through the South East Queensland Network Program. It includes the Active Towns Program and the Educated Ways Program for walking and cycling to schools – supported by school travel plans.
  • Priority area two: Growing a cycling culture. This includes education and behaviour change programs bolted in to infrastructure projects.
  • Priority area three: Creating cycle-friendly communities Including integrating cycling into planning and providing end of trip facilities in developments.
  • Priority area four: Developing a cycling economy Which recognises the importance of recreation facilities as tourism assets.

That said it does appear that some winding back of the Queensland Cycling Strategy 2011-21 is underway if the report in the Courier Mail is correct.

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