Yes, Minister! It's Time for Change In Transport Priorities
To: The Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
We applaud the release of "Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport" and your personal stand in support of alternative forms of transport including bicycling and call on you to adopt measures that will help realise a more active, healthy and sustainable nation. You have yourself stated that "There are great national benefits from walking, riding and making better use of public transport. Cleaner air, healthier Australians and smoother roads are some of them.“  Over recent years studies have repeatedly concluded that we need to encourage more people to walk and to bicycle and to take other active travel alternatives to help improve urban congestion, community health, environmental impacts and business productivity. The latest Commonwealth report "Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport" summarises these findings very clearly. Yet in reality, not enough is being done to make much of a difference in many areas across Australia. In many instances, it is still business as usual with expenditure on infrastructure promoting private vehicle use, dwarfing what is set aside for developing alternative modes. In 2011, the Commonwealth, States and Territories committed to the “safe systems” approach in the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 in support of the International Decade for Action for Road Safety (“Vision Zero”). “With this strategy our governments make commitments and take responsibility for critical issues in the system. This means there must be a focus on roads, speeds, vehicles and road user behaviour as well as associated activities, including performance monitoring and reporting”. Walking, cycling and better access to public transport can no longer be seen as just a state or a local government issue, and we believe it's time for the Commonwealth to assume a leadership role to actively promote and back the outcomes that are articulated in “Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport" by using all funding and policy levers available to full effect. Following are specific suggestions we urge you to consider: 1. Implement firm targets that link Federal infrastructure funding to increased spending on pedestrian and cycling initiatives, safety and amenity. 2. Quantify and recognise the beneficial health impacts from transport mode shift in the decision process for all federal infrastructure spending priorities. Include health criteria with any return on Investment for infrastructure funding. 3. Assess, promote and actively back the positive tourism and regional development impact of better cycling and walking opportunities. 4. Mandate that all infrastructure projects provide for improved cycling and pedestrian use in accordance with Austroads standards whenever and wherever the Commonwealth is funding or co-funding infrastructure projects. The Pacific Coast Highway is a case in point. 5. Implement a ‘minimum spend’ target per capita for dedicated pedestrian and cycling projects and create a fund towards the funding of pedestrian and cycling projects. 6. Put in place a business rating scheme that acknowledges business and government agencies with proactive walking and cycling commuting policies and their effectiveness. Similar to NABERS, this rating should be factored into government tendering processes. 7. Recognise the value to our future prosperity and health of the nation by investing to ensure our children can walk and cycle to school more often and more safely. The Federal Government needs to fulfil its role as a leader, and challenge all levels of government to do more with specific initiatives and significant resource commitments.  "Get on yer bike, and save our choking cities" The Punch, November 20th 2012 * For more about taking action for improved transport options go to www.go-alliance.net
Why is this important?
Despite a significant body of evidence on the health, transport and economic advantages of active travel, many of our planning and infrastructure priorities for increased private motor vehicle usage remain unchallenged. Without a nationally accepted framework accurately evaluating the cost benefit ratio of active travel investment, investment remains at minimal levels and in too many cases, without strong leadership support for these initiatives has been rolled back, especially at a local and state level. As the long term benefits of governments’ multi-billion dollar investments in roads increasingly produce diminishing returns, due to exacerbated transport congestion, poor health, pollution costs and lost productivity, alternatives demand attention. Return on investment (ROI's) is increasingly seen as positive for active transport alternatives when all co-benefits are included and yet investment is not devoted to achieving them. We submit that the Commonwealth should actively take the lead and promote the benefits of walking and cycling as viable alternative modes of transport, and use its considerable resources and ability to influence outcomes through all of the infrastructure projects it funds. We believe there is a role for COAG in this to ensure broad engagement and identification of barriers at both state and federal levels. As both an investor and a customer, the Commonwealth is uniquely placed to take a leadership role and make the long required changes to our nation's infrastructure and transportation priorities to create a healthier and more productive transport system. (Photo courtesy of the Cycling Promotion Fund comparing road space use of different transport modes.)
How it will be delivered
This petition will be sent to the Minister in both email and hard copy form as per the submission process.