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Friday, June 18, 2021

Canberrans ‘Make the Move’ to active commuting

Tim Berman is thinking about selling his car to buy an electric bike. His employer, the digital agency Annex, was one of four businesses lent e-bikes and e-scooters by the Conservation Council ACT Region (CCACTR) in a trial program to encourage active commuting.

“Is it possible to switch to an electric bike and leave your car at home? To go from being a two-car family to being a one-car family?” CCACTR executive director Helen Oakey wondered.

The answer, it seems, is a resounding ‘Yes’.

“I’ve been using the e-bike for the last week; it’s been fantastic,” Mr Berman said. “I used to cycle at school and when I commuted in Sydney. I hadn’t considered it in Canberra because it was easier to jump in the car.”

But riding the bike from Belconnen to Civic three days out of five has given him a second thought.

“When I tried riding on my regular bike, that was tough, and I got pretty sweaty. But coming on the e-bike was magical; I felt fresh and good for work.

“And now I’m seriously considering maybe buying [an electric bike] and ditching the second car.”

Which is exactly the result the Conservation Council hoped for. Around 60% of ACT greenhouse gas emissions come from transport, Ms Oakey said. Canberrans travel 11 million kilometres every day – 9 million of them in private vehicles mostly carrying one person. But if fewer people owned cars, ACT roads would be less congested, and the city less polluted.

“With 9 million kilometres of car trips every single day, every kilometre we switch out is emissions saved,” Ms Oakey said.

To help Canberrans transition to active commuting, the Conservation Council and the Canberra Environment Centre developed the ‘Make the Move’ program. Four workplaces are being lent e-scooters and e-bikes for six weeks. Annex, and barber Truefitt & Hill in the city have already taken part. Early Childhood Australia in Fyshwick, and Icon Water in Mitchell will soon.

The program also includes a tailored workshop and a website with information about planning trips; using bikes, scooters, skateboards and electric machines; and how to change travel habits.

Workplaces themselves might have showers or safe places to put bikes.

The ACT Government has provided more than $39,500 through the Community Zero Emissions Grant Program, which funds initiatives that are designed to help the ACT become emissions-free by 2045.

“This is a terrific program that really seeks to tackle Canberra’s biggest greenhouse gas challenge,” said Shane Rattenbury, Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction. “We are a car-dominated city. People are used to driving their cars to get places. It tends to be pretty easy and pretty convenient in Canberra and we need to tackle those transport emissions.”

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