The government is failing to reach its own targets to build new bike lanes on Canberra roads, despite pushing for more “active travel”. The latest Transport Canberra and City Services performance report showed the territory is not on track to create the amount of on and off-road bike paths it has planned for. It comes as the government pursues a number of “active travel” initiatives, encouraging people to walk or cycle to reduce emissions from cars. The report reveals the government is aiming to build 25 km of new bike lanes this financial year, but so far it’s only built 1 km. It predicts by the end of the year it will have installed just 13km of bike lanes. The directorate also missed last financial year’s targets, with the 2018-19 annual report finding there was only a 6km increase in bike lanes in the year, well off the 25km target. The directorate blamed the shortfall on the fact that roads that were resurfaced in the year could not safely accommodate the installation of new lanes. It is also failing to create community paths on target, currently 46 per cent behind its rolling target. The government wants to create 35 km of the paths this financial year but has so far only created 9.5 km. Last year it fell 20 per cent short of its off-road path target. Transport Minister Chris Steel said the additional kilometres of on-road cycle lanes added varied year to year depending on road construction maintenance. “Infrastructure is an important part of the ACT government’s active travel plan,” he said. “Canberra has an extensive active travel network of shared paths and on-road cycle lanes to provide choice and options for people to connect to their destinations.” Mr Steel said the government’s focus was on the creation of off-road paths. “While on road cycle lanes provide space for confident cyclists on main roads, the potential for appreciable increase in the number of trips by bicycle is limited,” he said. He said the on-road cycle lanes were influenced by the land released program, the annual resurfacing program and capital works program. ACT Greens transport spokeswoman Caroline Le Couteur said the government needed to improve its efforts on walking and cycling infrastructure if it wanted to make Canberra a more sustainable, convenient and equitable city. She said the Greens had been able to secure millions of extra dollars of investment in walking and cycling infrastructure. “We want to see funding for walking and cycling increased permanently, to support more people to use cycling and other active modes, especially people who are underrepresented in cycling like women and children,” she said. “The government also needs to plan for the large scale uptake of e-bikes and e-mobility which are a genuine opportunity for people to replace car trips.”
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