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2013 is the year to allocate greater spending on bike infrastructure in our capital city.

One of my new year’s resolutions is to see Hobart recognised as a bike-friendly place to work, live and visit. In early 2013, I shall be calling for an increased financial commitment by the Council so that Hobart can deliver safer cycling options for bike riders who both live here and visit.

Hobart’s allocated bicycle infrastructure is the lowest per capita of any Australian capital city. The 2012-13 financial year index on bicycle infrastructure spending, BiXe (see link below), released by the Bicycle Network, shows Hobart has dipped below $1 per person.

Our residents, businesses and visitors are missing out on the benefits of increased cycling participation because of poor infrastructure.

The annual budget for cycling infrastructure is stuck at $50,000. This amounts to approximately 0.05% of the Hobart City Council’s overall annual $100m budget.

Other capital cities clearly see the benefits of good cycling infrastructure. Melbourne and Sydney City Councils have made a solid and increasing commitment to improving bike paths and on-road lanes. Melbourne is spending $4.9m whilst Sydney has $16.4m set aside this year. It is recognised that their overall budgets are larger, but even Darwin allocates almost 9 times more than Hobart to rolling out bicycle routes.

Locally, Hobart is lagging behind neighbouring councils Kingborough and Glenorchy. Their spend is $2.57 and $3.67 per resident respectively to Hobart’s 99 cents. Figures for Clarence were not available in the BiXe report.

But we need to look to councils to our north for the best examples of Tasmanian councils. Devonport is spending $136,000 ($5:30 per resident) on specific projects to make cycling safer, more visible and more enjoyable. Launceston is 4 times more committed in financial terms than Hobart.

It is time for Hobart to catch up.

Bicycle Network’s BiXe http://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/media/vanilla/file/BiXE%202012%20Final%20Report.pdf

Helen Burnet in The Mercury: Give city back to its people