IN his latest report, Auditor General Colin Murphy has found that while government had gradually improved cycling infrastructure in the Perth metropolitan area, better planning, sustained funding and cooperation of local government authorities is needed to complete a safe and viable cycle network.
According to Mr Murphy, less than half of the planned cycle network was complete, with significant sections not built and older paths requiring upgrading to cater for increasing demand.
In the last ten years, transport agencies have invested $143 million in cycling infrastructure, but only $20.3 million of this was spent on priority routes.
"Critically, many of the gaps are on priority routes along railway lines and freeways, and within the busy CBD and as a result, cyclists must choose alternate, less safe routes, or choose not to cycle," Mr Murphy said.
"Additionally, local roads and paths, provided and maintained by local councils, vary in design and level of maintenance, creating conflicting and less safe conditions for cycling."
Mr Murphy said a planned review of local routes needed to be completed, an implementation plan and funding requirements for the WA Bicycle Network Plan 2014-2031 should be developed, data collection should be improved to help plan and prioritise cycling infrastructure and greater emphasis needed to be given to improving public awareness about cycling safety.
"Growing the popularity of cycling in WA, including through events such as today's Ride2Work Day, has clear economic, health and environmental benefits – it reduces traffic congestion, lowers vehicle emissions and reduces health costs through a more physically active community," Mr Murphy said in a statement last Wednesday.
"Our community survey showed that safety was a major factor in people choosing not to cycle, which needs to be addressed, as it is hard to think of an activity that has more benefits – for cyclists and for the wider community.
"Around a quarter of Western Australians ride a bicycle in a typical week, and these are some of our most vulnerable road users.
"Removing impediments to the growth in cycling will assist government to create a truly integrated transport network, which is essential to the future of cycling in WA and all the economic, environmental and health benefits that come with it."