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Bicycle NSW CEO Peter McLean has dug into the detail of this year’s state budget to understand what is offered for bike riding. And the answer is…. not very much!

“The NSW Budget for 2024/25 was handed down on 18th June with a key focus on affordable housing targeted to victims of domestic violence and our valuable emergency service workers.  We can all agree that this is a very important priority for NSW, and one which will have wide-ranging societal benefits and long-term intergenerational impact.  

“The focus on building new homes is a clear shift from the previous government’s focus on infrastructure. We'll leave the experts to comment further on these measures and other topics unrelated to active transport.  

“Disappointingly, little funding has been allocated specifically for active transport. Bicycle NSW understands the immense challenges which governments are facing. But doing the same actions and expecting a different result is......well you know the rest.  In our pre-budget submission, Bicycle NSW didn't ask for a lot. We didn't ask for the recommended 20% of transport spend on active transport as recommended by the UN. 

“We just asked NSW Labor to double the hugely successful Get NSW Active grants, fund strategic cycleway corridors, behaviour change programs, bicycle education and subsidy schemes.  You can read our detailed pre-budget submission on our website.  

“A few of our submission points are partly included in the budget. However, we are seeking confirmation on the specifics, including how much the Get NSW Active grants will be, so watch this space.”  

Peter McLean on Oxford Street in Paddington.  The critical strategic cycleway planned for this corridor is one of several priority routes for Bicycle NSW that didn’t get mentioned in this year’s budget
(Image: Dion Georgopoulos)

The good

“We'll start with the positives for active transport as it is always great to see close integration with major infrastructure projects.  These include:

  • Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 will see an 8.5km shared path from Parramatta to Sydney Olympic Park including a 320m active transport bridge near Wentworth Point.
  • M6 Extension Stage 1 is delivering excellent walking and cycling pathways
  • Epping Station Bridge replacement, partly funded by the Australian Government) will include a shared path

The Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 incorporates bridges that celebrate active and public transport and pack an architectural punch. The NSW Government still plans to deliver the bridge linking Melrose Park and Wentworth Point well in advance of operational trains (Image: Sydney Morning Herald)

“A number of other safety upgrades and active transport linkages for pedestrians and bicycle riders will be integral to road projects such as the Jervis Bay Rd intersection upgrade and multiple new roads around the Western Sydney Aerotropolis.  

“We also note two further line items showing funds destined for active transport projects 

“Specifically, these are: 

  • $120.9 million over 4 years to increase connected networks.
  • $45 million on various active transport projects. 

“However, there is no information of the projects covered by this money. The details are currently being investigated by Bicycle NSW. We will update you when we learn more.   

“We certainly hope the Get NSW Active funding is not wrapped up in the $120m ‘over 4 years’, as this would be a serious reduction from last year’s allocation of $60m.” 

The missed opportunity

“There is a misalignment of NSW Government actions with its policy on achieving net zero emissions.  Governments have many policy levers that could be pulled. While cost of living pressures are talked about, the systemic challenges around transport inequity aren't being addressed in our ‘pay to play’ car-centric system.  

Transport contributes 20% (and growing) of our carbon emissions and private transport makes up a significant portion of this. So a number of percentage points could easily be cut from this figure if governments fully understood that active transport can deliver so much more than just transport.  We're not picking the low hanging fruit.

“One glaring example is toll relief.  While it has been a long-practiced sweetener for governments to provide toll refunds and rebates to the public, toll relief does nothing more than incentivise vehicle use, increase emissions and fund private sector business models."

A jammed Victoria Road in Drummoyne during the morning peak on Tuesday.  It is beyond time to stop investing in making driver easier and then expect a different result.  (Image: Nick Moir)

“In Sydney alone, private citizens are paying over $2.5 billion per annum in tolls. The State Government continues to feed the habit at a further $280 million in both 2024 and next year in 2025.  This toll relief should either be discontinued or strongly targeted to emergency service workers, carers and other high-need users.  The money saved could be invested into funding efficient active and public transport that will enable everyone to access opportunities – not just those who have the ability and means to drive.”

The future

“Under the ‘Connected’ theme in the Wellbeing and Performance consultation papers, one outcome is focused on ‘people, businesses and communities being connected through safe and reliable transport’.  This is very positive to see.  

“However, the indicator – to increase mode share towards public and active transport – is far too vague.  We need to be specific with all metrics and state a number.  Without a numerical target, there is no accountability.  We also need to incentivise sustainable transport modes and disincentive car use to achieve this mode shift. Currently, the levers and measures of NSW Government are not steering us towards the desired outcomes.    

“We must set a clear target for mode shift rather than just talking about it as a ‘nice to have’. We must understand that it is hopelessly inefficient, expensive and unfair to drive private vehicles only a few kilometers millions of times per day in our cities.  The congestion, emissions, noise, space for parking and wasted time is not achieving anything for our society and cities. The business-as-usual approach to transport will see NSW fall behind.      

“As the peak bicycle advocate in NSW, we will continue working with the Government to ensure they can realise these opportunities for our community, environment, social equity and health and wellbeing.”  

Peter McLean, Bicycle NSW CEO

Before you go….

Bicycle NSW works hard every day to ensure that NSW Government investments in infrastructure deliver the best possible outcomes for active transport. Join Bicycle NSW to support our advocacy campaigns. You will also ride with peace of mind, covered by our comprehensive insurance, and enjoy many other Member-only benefits

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