The money spent on building the CycleSafe Network will be recouped, but more research is needed.

ON THE RIGHT PATH: A cyclist enjoys the view at Newcastle beach on Tuesday - the CycleSafe Network wants more people riding bikes in the city. Picture: Max Mason Hubers

ON THE RIGHT PATH: A cyclist enjoys the view at Newcastle beach on Tuesday - the CycleSafe Network wants more people riding bikes in the city. Picture: Max Mason Hubers

THE cost of building the extensive CycleSafe Network could be recouped within seven months, according to current methods of assessing the value of infrastructure projects.

Using Transport for NSW’s “monetised rates for the benefits of cycling”, the CycleSafe Committee determined that if five per cent of people living within a kilometre of the network took up cycling as their main mode of transport, the benefits of building the network would balance with the costs in 6.42 months.

But committee chairperson Megan Sharkey said the Transport for NSW tool used vague estimations for the health and environmental cost benefits, which was why a research project was essential to help present a clearer picture.

Ms Sharkey said the committee considered similar case studies around the world.

“In New Jersey they did an economic study which found a $63 million investment in 2011 contributed a total of $497 million in jobs and boosts to the economy in that same year – nearly eight times the estimated investment,” Ms Sharkey said.

“One of the best things we can really give Australia is the fact that we are doing this.

“The fact we’re taking the time and trying to collect all this information when nobody else has, and no government wants to, and we’re spending thousands of dollars doing it.”

Tim Roberts, director of the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment at the University of Newcastle, and member of the CycleSafe Committee, said this project was another example of people with “fire in their belly” working for nothing to push an idea for the good of the community.

“It’s an exciting time and an exciting plan,” Dr Roberts said.

He said the project would be a win for the environment, because the air would be cleaner with fewer cars on the road. It would be a win for the economy, the hip pocket, and a win for cyclists.

“They will be healthier because they are riding their bicycle and getting exercise, and they will have more disposable income because they are not having to spend it on their vehicle,” he said.

“Wins are everywhere.”

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