Merri-bek BUG push on council budget

The Merri-bek Bicycle User Group (BUG) is rallying residents in the municipality to push for better recognition of bike infrastructure needs in the council's next budget.

The City of Merri-bek’s proposed 2023-2027 budget is out for consultation and, according to the BUG, falls way short of expectations.

The BUG will be holding a Bust the Budget session at Coburg RSL from 3pm-5pm on Sunday 14 May to help residents make submissions and answer questions about council's plans.

BUG convenor Faith Hunter says Merri-bek Council's proposed 2023-2027 Budget is a betrayal of Merri-bek's legacy of delivering leading bike infrastructure, and abandons long-established plans to build a network of dedicated bike lanes.

"Over the next five years, Merri-bek City Council plans to build just one 300 metre stretch of protected bike lane - extending the existing O'Hea Street shared path to Derby Street, Pascoe Vale,” Hunter says.

"There is no allocation for the design and planning of new dedicated bike lane projects. As no new projects are being designed before 2027/28, it would be at least 2030 before any expansion of the network could be approved and built.

"As it stands, Merri-bek has only 5.1km of dedicated bike lanes throughout the municipality. With 16% of carbon emissions in Merri-bek resulting from fossil-fuel-dependent forms of transport, this backflip on active transport also amounts to an abandonment of Merri-bek's 2030 emissions reduction target.”

Hunter says Merri-bek BUG appreciates the pressure that council budgets are under, given rate capping, record inflation and climbing construction costs.

"However, residents are also feeling the pinch and looking for ways to make their household budgets go further.

"Investment in bike infrastructure gives more residents the opportunity to meet their transport needs with a low cost, equitable and accessible option — getting around by bike safely.”

More information can be found here.