Budget increase a WIN for cyclists

26 June 2016: Following a heated debate in the Marrickville Council chamber on Tuesday night, the Greens were successful in their bid to significantly increase the budget to build bike paths. The additional funding will bring forward completion of a priority regional bike route through Camperdown, Newtown and Enmore.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore said, “On Tuesday night Marrickville Council voted to include an additional $200,000 in the annual budget for new bike paths. That’s nearly double the $310,000 included in the draft budget.

“In the lead up to the vote, the Greens had released research showing that only 9% of the priority bike paths in Council’s Marrickville Bike Strategy 2007-2016[i] have been completed to date.[ii] Years of underfunding had led to a short fall of more than $7 million to build the priority bike paths identified by Council – half of which was to be funded by Council and half by the State Government.[iii] At that rate we would not have met our local bike targets until 2039,” Clr Ellsmore said.

While the Greens were not successful in their bid to increase the bike budget even further, to $1 million, in addition to the $200,000 budget boost they secured other commitments from the Labor-Liberal dominated Council, including:

  • A commitment that Council would prioritise bike infrastructure projects when seeking grant funding from other tiers of government; and
  • A commitment that opportunities for new bike paths would be included in the existing $1.35 million per annum ‘Connecting Marrickville’ project, a new program focused on upgrading footpaths and roads.[iv]

Greens Councillor Max Phillips said, “While Marrickville Council is not a wealthy Council, it is damning that only 1% of our infrastructure budget was to be allocated to bike paths. The modest funding increase won by the Greens (to 2% of infrastructure spending) is important, but it is clear that several of the Marrickville Councillors did not support the change.

“Repeated comments were made during last night’s debate by Labor and Liberal Councillors that Council could not “afford” to find any additional funding for bike paths. This is very troubling given that the Labor and Liberal Councillors were able to find an unbudgeted $1.2 million last year on top of $1 million for the one controversial Arlington Reserve artificial turf project alone last year.

“The real issue is one of priorities. The Greens think building better bike paths should be a priority for local Councils,” Clr Phillips said.

The Greens candidate for the State seat of Newtown, Jenny Leong, said “the new State seat of Newtown has some of the highest numbers of commuter cyclists in the state.[v] The city has many excellent cycleways through Surry Hills and Redfern. However, the further we get from the CBD, the more inadequate cycling infrastructure becomes.

“This week our local Greens had an important win. While at 2%[vi] of the Council’s infrastructure budget Marrickville Council’s bike spending is still modest, the increase shows the positive effects of years of sustained campaigning by local residents and the Greens for better cycling infrastructure.

“At the same time, there is only so much that Councils can do in the face of increasing cuts from State and Federal Governments. In the most recent NSW budget the Coalition allocated $60 billion to infrastructure that prioritises motorways and roads, but has failed to commit to funding bikepaths that will lower rates of injury for cyclists and reduce pollution in Sydney.

“The Greens think building better bike paths should be a priority for all levels of Government. We will continue to campaign to ensure that we aren’t condemning our growing community of inner-west cyclists to decades of infrastructure backlogs,” Ms Leong said.

Media contact:          Greens Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213

Find out more – visit our local Greens bike campaign page.

END NOTES

[i] Marrickville Bicycle Strategy available to download from the Marrickville Council website at http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/en/council/forms-and-publications/council-plans/bicycle-strategy/ .

[ii] For details of the level of underspend in Marrickville Council’s bike budget see the Answers to Questions on Notice provided put by the Greens to the 18 March 2014 Marrickville Council meeting, at https://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/bike-path-questions-2014/

[iii] As above, Answers to Questions on Notice by the Greens. In relation to the cost for Marrickville Council to meet its bike targets, Council staff advised: “The remaining bike route program is estimated at approximately $7,042,000 in 2014 dollars, subject to detailed investigation and design.”

[iv] The commitments outlined in a late Mayoral Minute (Item 21) put to the Council by Mayor Jo Haylen, included that Council would prioritise bike infrastructure projects when seeking grant funding from other tiers of government; and opportunities for new bike paths would be included in the existing $1.35 million per annum ‘Connecting Marrickville’ project, a new program focused on upgrading footpaths and roads.

[v] Based on Census data, reported at page 26 of the ‘Inner Sydney Regional Bicycle Network – Demand Assessment and Economic Appraisal’ (September 9th 2010), as available to download from http://www.thinkingtransport.org.au/library/2010/09/inner-sydney-regional-bicycle-network-demand-assessment-and-economic-appraisal

[vi] Prior to the increase voted last night, Marrickville Council’s DRAFT annual bike budget was $310,000 pa, out of a total annual Capital Budget of $28,772,363 – or 1%. The increase to $510,000 brings the figure closer to 2%. Figures are outlined in the Marrickville Council Paper for the 24 June 2014 Council meeting – Item 11, Attachment 2, ‘Operating and Capital Budget 2014-5’.

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