Queensland election commitment analysis

To ensure you’re fully informed when voting tomorrow, here’s our take on the various commitments that each of the major parties have made to cycling:

…or skip to the summary.

Australian Labor Party

The ALP has released a specific cycling policy, promising the following actions:

  1. Deliver the North Brisbane Cycleway, with $6 million to construct the first stage to Albion and $320,000 to undertake detailed planning and develop the business case for remainder of the cycleway from Albion to Kedron Brook.
  2. Invest $1.75 million to deliver more than 900 secure bike parking spaces at key rail stations and bus stops.
  3. Invest $20 million in grants for local government to deliver regional cycling initiatives, targeted at regional rail trails and off‐road cycling and mountain biking.
  4. Create a new offence of dangerous driving which deliberately or recklessly endangers a cyclist

Action 1 will see the long overdue installation of infrastructure the CBD BUG has been lobbying heavily for during the previous 12 months through meeting with relevant public servants and local politicians at both council and State Government levels, to address the stagnating levels of cycling across the northern suburbs that is evident from Australian Bureau of Statistics census data. This is a welcome announcement.

Action 2 promises the delivery of “more than 900 secure bike parking spaces at key rail stations and bus stops”. The specific detail on commitment is limited to the delivery of 28 bicycle lockers at six locations across Brisbane (= 168 secure bike parks), plus 170 “bike racks or stands” at another 11 BUZ high frequency bus stops. So all up a total of 338 bike parks are detailed, of which marginally less than half are genuinely secure, “all day” parking. Nevertheless, this is also a welcome announcement.

Action 3 is understood to be a continuation of the Qld Government’s current grants program that has been in place at this funding level since 2004. However, it is a concern the focus of this program seems to be shifting away from supporting utility cycling e.g. work, educational, shopping trips towards recreational trips. A focus on supporting recreational cycling at the expense of utility cycling is likely to maintain bike riding’s current status as a marginalised activity that only occurs infrequently or on weekends, rather than as a daily, mainstream activity

Action 4 is probably the most promising (and pleasantly surprising) new development from the ALP with respect to cycling. The CBD BUG and other cycling groups have been calling for more protection for cyclists under the road rules because cyclists are vulnerable road users who, unlike motorists, are helping alleviate traffic congestion and reducing demand on the public health system. This new penalty in the Qld Criminal Code means dangerous driving that deliberately or recklessly endangers a cyclist would have a maximum penalty of 400 penalty units ($40,000) or 5 years imprisonment, a stronger penalty than is currently applicable under the broader Dangerous Driving provision that has a maximum penalty of 200 penalty units ($20,000) or 3 years imprisonment.

This commitment is welcomed on the basis that cyclists are vulnerable road users who are particularly exposed to risk from inappropriate driving behaviours of motorists. Dangerous driving and road rage are totally unacceptable behaviours for any road user, but in an incident between a person in a motor vehicle and a person on a bicycle the risks are almost entirely one-sided. Accordingly, motorists need a clear and unambiguous message from government that they must pay special attention to allow an adequate margin of safety when driving in proximity to cyclists.

Liberal National Party

The Liberal National Party has not released any policies that address cycling in any form. Its transport policies are divided into ‘Roads’ and ‘Public Transport’, and no mention is made of cycling.

The CBD BUG has requested the LNP release a policy for cycling, but has not yet received any response.

The Queensland Greens

The Greens have an integrated transport policy that includes numerous provisions relating to cycling, including specific measures to:

  1. Review and amend planning regulations to encourage building owners and designers to provide facilities such as secure parking and end of trip facilities for cyclists and walkers.
  2. Reduce urban speed limits to make roads safer for all users, particularly exposed users such as cyclists and pedestrians.
  3. Create bike lane and bikeway networks to connect communities to their local train stations, bus interchanges and shopping centres.
  4. Provide adequate and safe facilities for bicycle, scooter and motorcycle storage at these locations.
  5. Allocate a minimum of 5% of transport infrastructure funding for the provision and maintenance of cycling facilities in order to meet the usage goals in the Queensland Government’s cycling plan.
  6. Legislate to ensure that all new state road projects and upgrades conform with the Department of Main Roads’ Cycling on State Controlled Roads policy.
  7. Develop abandoned railway corridors as “rail trails” for cycling tourism.
  8. Establish an auditing process to ensure all existing cycling facilities (both on and off-road) meet the needs and expectations of cyclists.
  9. Establish a $100 million Regional Queensland Cycling Fund to facilitate the construction of cycling infrastructure in regional towns, pursuant to the adoption of cycling policies in line with the Department of Main Roads’ Cycling on State Controlled Roads policy.

Katter’s Australian Party

Like the LNP, Katter’s Australian Party has not released any policies that address cycling in any form. The party has a “Fares Fair” plan regarding public transport fares, but it has no policies of direct relevance to cycling.

The CBD BUG has requested the party release a policy for cycling, but has not yet received a response.

Summary

The Greens clearly have the most comprehensive and integrated approach towards enabling cycling to be a safe and viable transport mode, and a credible alternative to the private motor car for the wider community.

The ALP cycling policy can be viewed a bit of a breakthrough for cyclists, in the sense that it is the first time the ALP has actually produced such a policy, having in previous elections simply announced a specific amount to be spent on cycling and/or the building of individual cycling projects.

The LNP’s lack of policy is both disappointing and concerning. We can only hope that it is not a sign of things to come if the LNP is elected, as currently seems very likely. However, with Campbell Newman’s previous commitment to funding bikeway construction when he was Brisbane’s Lord Mayor there is some hope that a government led by him might demonstrate an awareness of the importance of getting more people out of their cars and onto bikes for transport.

The KAP’s lack of policy is also disappointing. Perhaps as the party matures it will develop a more comprehensive transport policy.

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