BELOW average investment into Latrobe City bicycle infrastructure, revealed in the annual Bicycle Network Australia council report, has been defended by council as not reflective of its long-term investment.
Latrobe City Council ranked the lowest in Gippsland for the Bicycle Expenditure Index for Local Government 2012 report with an investment of $2.13 per person, well below the average $5 per person threshold.
But Latrobe City general manager recreation and community infrastructure Grantley Switzer defended council’s investment and said the data needed to reflect the number of quality bike-paths within a municipality.
“The (BiXE report) is not real meaningful data because you need to capture what the spending has been over a 10 to 20-year period,” Mr Switzer said.
“Those councils that have got excellent bicycle paths and networks don’t need to spend a lot of money.
“This index doesn’t recognise any works done prior to the current 12-month period.”
The $2.13 per head investment was behind Baw Baw Shire which invested $3.39 per head of population, followed by East Gippsland at $5.67, Wellington Shire Council at $10.07, Bass Coast Shire at $10.67 and South Gippsland at $18.98.
However, Mr Switzer said in the past two decades Latrobe City had been “leading the way” with the development of intra-town networks.
He said Traralgon was a good example of accessible bike paths, allowing riders to travel throughout the township on safe, shared pathways.
Mr Switzer said there were quality bike paths in all the major towns including the Moe-Yallourn Rail Trail, Waterhole Creek and Bridle Estate in Morwell as well as links throughout Traralgon.
“In saying that we have recognised that there is an inter-town network that needs to improve, to get from town to town within the municipality,” he said.
Council ranked highly on the index last year, with an investment of $7.81 per head, equating to about $600,000 of bike infrastructure and pathway developments.
“The last couple of years the main focus was Park Lane in Traralgon, we also did the area from Franklin Street to Breed Street, Traralgon and also a large focus on the Traralgon South shared pathway,” Mr Switzer said.
For 2012, council has committed about $200,000 towards bike expenditure, allocating $100,000 towards a feasibility study for the Morwell-Traralgon Shared Pathway.
As part of the Latrobe City Bicycle Plan 2007-1010, Mr Switzer said council had invested $1.5 million on bicycle infrastructure, roads and shared pathways.
Despite not completing all of the targeted projects in the plan, he said council had invested their resources on the Morwell-Traralgon Shared Pathway.
“There is not a massive number of projects at this stage on the books because all our attention is on the Morwell (shared pathway) project,” he said.