Today I have released for public feedback Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport, a discussion paper setting out proposals to reverse the rising costs of urban congestion and encourage more Australians to use greener, healthier ways of getting around.
The fact is eight out of every ten commuting trips are still undertaken by car.
Urban congestion is costing Australia $13 billion per year and, if not tackled, that figure will rise to $20 billion by the end of this decade. What’s more, obesity has now overtaken smoking as the greatest cause of preventable disease in our country.
The discussion paper continues the national conversation we began last year with the launch of the National Urban Policy Our Cities, Our Future. It explores a range of ways to reduce the community’s high dependence on the car, including better planning, new infrastructure and lifestyle changes.
Getting more people walking and cycling, particularly within 20 minutes of transport nodes and economic and educational hubs, as well as catching public transport, will not only ease congestion on our roads and improve air quality, but also lead to better public health outcomes.
Importantly, the Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport discussion paper recommends a cooperative approach, with all levels of government working together with industry and the community to reshape our cities and encourage healthy lifestyles.
Already Federal Labor has significant runs on the board including our historic investment in urban passenger rail and the $40 million in economic stimulus funding which went to expanding the nation’s cycling infrastructure.
A copy of the discussion paper can be downloaded from www.infrastructure.gov.au/activetransport. Starting today, the consultation period will run until 31 January next year.