Australia to give boost to cycling infrastructure

The nation's transport ministers have acknowledged there's been a lack of investment when it comes to encouraging people to get out of their cars and onto their bicycles.

Federal and state transport ministers on Friday signed off on the third National Cycling Strategy, which aims to double the number of people cycling during the next five years.

The strategy acknowledges that while there have been many initiatives to get more people riding in the past 10 years cycling had not been supported by a high level of investment.

"To help counter this, (the 2011-16 strategy) aims to develop a robust and consistent approach to data to demonstrate the impact of cycling initiatives on a range of outcomes," the report states.

"This will provide essential tools to help states, territories and local governments make the case for increased investment, a crucial step in realising this strategy's goals."

The report notes that currently "a consistent picture" of the number of people cycling across the country is not available.

It recommends a national approach to collecting data be agreed upon with results collated annually by the Australian Bicycle Council.

The strategy also argues a framework needs to be developed to measure the costs and benefits of encouraging more people to ride.

Criteria could include time savings along with health, environmental, traffic congestion and connectivity impacts.

Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese says the Australian Transport Council is serious about encouraging healthier lifestyles while at the same time tackling climate change and traffic congestion.

"Transport currently comprises nearly 15 per cent of Australia's carbon emissions - an increase of five per cent since 2000," Mr Albanese said in a statement.

"As a zero-emission mode of transport, replacing even five per cent of car trips to bicycle has the potential to reduce emissions impacts by up to eight per cent."

Mr Albanesesaid key goals of the 2011-16 National Cycling Strategy are to:

* promote the benefits of commuting and recreational cycling,

* work with employers to create bike-friendly workplaces,

* extend bike path networks,

* consider cycling needs in transport and land-use planning,

* target cyclist safety and change driver perceptions, and

* develop national decision-making processes for investment in cycling.

Available data suggests there were more than 1.9 million people cycling in Australia in 2008, up 21 per cent over just three years.

From Sydney Morning Herald