Cycling lobbyist Pedal Power has slammed the ACT government for a "shameful’’ and "heartless’’ response to Canberra’s bike injury rates which were twice the national average in 2012.
Pedal Power says Canberra’s 87,000 cyclists should be creating a safer riding community, but instead the territory was becoming more dangerous because infrastructure spending was not keeping up with cycling’s popularity.
The ACT Chief Health Officer’s 2014 report released on Friday showed the territory had the highest rate of serious injuries to cyclists in Australia with twice the national average of injuries.
Pedal Power’s executive officer John Armstrong said the government needed to do much more than say injury figures were due to the ACT having the highest cycling participation rate in Australia.
“Imagine for a moment if the injuries from car crashes in Canberra was twice the national average,’’ Mr Armstrong said.
"The government, police and road safety authorities would demand an urgent response.
“Funding does not equate in any way to the 6 per cent target in commuter travel (by 2016) and certainly doesn’t relate anywhere near 6 per cent, let alone 1 per cent of the transport infrastructure budget.
‘‘For the last four years we’ve been asking (the government) to please back up their rhetoric with the target with appropriate resources to help."
Mr Armstrong said studies around the world had shown that as cycling numbers increased, so too did bike safety, but in Canberra the opposite was the case.
“I don’t have an answer why we are going against the trend,’’ he said.
“Safe infrastructure becomes important when people make a choice as to which mode of transport they will take. If they think it is safe and it is safe to ride on, they will easily choose to do that.’’
Pedal Power wants an immediate trial of lower speed limits in school zones, town centres and residential areas which have high pedestrian and cycling close to shared paths.
"The government could introduce a 30 km/h speed limit in all these areas at the stroke of a pen and save lives and reduce the overall accident rate," Mr Armstrong said.
He said the government should reconsider its budget to provide separate dedicated bike lanes in the central business district, Turner and Braddon.
Pedal power has nearly 4000 members, but Mr Armstrong said it represented many more Canberrans who may choose to take up cycling in future.
“Every single time we put in quality infrastructure the people will come,’’ he said.
Mr Armstrong said San Francisco town planner Timothy Papandreou, when last in Canberra, had identified safe cycling infrastructure as the cheapest and easiest way of getting people out of their cars and into active transport.
“It is such an easy windfall for government, it’s not funny.’’
When asked whether the government will achieve a 6 per cent increase of commuters on bikes by 2016, a spokesman for the Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development Simon Corbell said he hoped the $12 million over four years allocated to expanding the cycle network would ensure the target was met.
"Canberra is doing better than most major Australian cities with active travel mode share, and the ACT already has highest proportion of cycling work trips of all the major Australian cities, despite its comparative modest size," the spokesman added.