Leichhardt Cuts Bike Budget
At its extraordinary meeting on 21 May 2013 (meeting Minutes here) Labor and Liberal Councillors resolved to slash Leichhardt Council’s cycling budget to zero (from $400,000 per annum).
We are urging those who ride to make it very clear to the Mayor that this is unacceptable.
This move was totally unannounced to either BIKESydney or Bike Leichhardt who sit on Council’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC). This hardly represents “open governance”.
Gallingly, Mayor Darcy Byrne (Labor) and Clr John Jobling (Liberal) are instead opting to increase Council’s spend on road re-sheeting works ($200,000) and to cover the revenue shortfall that will result from the introduction of its 30-minute free car parking program (-$455,000).
This decision to delete bike funding conflicts directly with Council’s 2025+ Strategic Plan (Council’s Vision) which presents cycling as a pillar of its transport and environment policies. The difference in messaging and action here is stark.
Furthermore, there is no commitment from Council for future spending on cycling infrastructure. The Mayor’s recent press release (11 June 2013) contains grand overtures, but no commitment. The funds he refers to are merely the carryovers of budget allocations from previous years – the backlog. Merely a financial comb-over.
This is precisely the situation we were in one year ago: soothing promises of funding for cycling in 2013/14, and look at us now – that budget slashed to zero. Words versus action.
It would be a simple matter to pass a Council resolution to explicitly commit to fully reinstating the bike budget for 2014/15. (Arguably, increasing the budget will now be required to catch-up the lag.)
So which bike projects will be affected?
Council’s Bicycle Advisory Committee was next looking to develop no less than the family- and kid-friendly, off-road and regionally-significant Whites Creek, Bay Run and Greenway paths.
How do we know this? BIKESydney attends every session of the BAC and we consult directly and regularly with Council staff on strategy and planning. Sadly, the BAC was in no way consulted about the budget cut. We warmly invite the Mayor to attend BAC meetings.
Those who ride – and moreover, those who don’t but would – know too well that the biggest barrier to cycling is the fear of having to ride on roads with fast traffic. (Did you know that the proportion of female riders on Lilyfield Rd in the morning peak is less than 15%; and there are almost no (zero) young or elderly riders.)
What is needed most are meaningful, connected off-road cycling paths like the White’s Creek path and the City West Cycle Link.
The cut also undermines Council’s intended bike share schemes and the Inner Sydney Regional Bicycle Network, an initiative of the 15 inner city councils to provide a standardised, connected and integrated bicycle network. Imagine how under-spending in Leichhardt – the western approach to the city, the biggest bicycle trip generator – will influence the Federal Government’s consideration of the request for funding.
So, what are the neighbours up to?
Just across the Anzac Bridge, the City of Sydney have committed $17 million (of NEW funds) on bicycle programs in 2013/14 while over the Iron Cove Bridge, Canada Bay Council will spend around $1million to complete its section of the Bay Run shared path.
In entirely deleting its forward bike budget, Leichhardt Council forgoes leveraging the investments of its neighbouring councils. The recently-completed Johnstons Canal shared path is a project for which Leichhardt Council created cost efficiencies by working in unison with the City of Sydney.
What can you do?
First, please sign the petition.
Second, write a short email with “Submission to the 2013/14 Draft Budget” in the email heading and including ALL of the following:
email@example.com [The Mayor]
firstname.lastname@example.org [All Councillors]
email@example.com [Councils Staff and the Submission process]
A sample email might include:
1. A statement of your position on the the matter, eg:
“I am very disappointed the draft Budget was amended by Labor and Liberal Councilors to cut bike funding from $400,000 per annum (as it’s been for the last few years) to zero in 2013/14”
“Regular and consistent funding is required to complete the Leichhardt Bicycle Strategy. Please reinstate the bike budget funding to the levels of the last few years ($400,000 per annum).”
2. State why cycling is important to you eg, it keeps me healthy, spending local, fun, connected to my community, makes it easier to get around, I avoid having to fight for kerbside parking, does my bit for a better environment….
3. You might also stress the importance of the need to develop *off-road* paths like Whites Creek, Bay Run, the Greenway and school routes that are safe for families and kids.
Even a one line expression of your point of view will send a meaningful signal to a formal process that BIKESydney and Bike Leichhardt can act on.
Leichhardt Municipal Council’s Draft 2013/2014 Budget can be viewed here