Active Transport—Walking and Cycling

Many people walk to local destinations such as shops, cafes, parks or the post office. Others walk on a daily basis to their school or workplace. Most public transport journeys start and end with a walk from the bus stop or train station to the final destination. Riding a bicycle is becoming increasingly popular as a form of transport.

These modes of travel are sometimes referred to as ‘active travel’, or ‘active transport’. While, for some people, these terms imply an aspect of healthy living, active forms of transport offer a broad range of benefits.

Getting more people walking and riding results in:

  • increased capacity, and reduced congestion, in the overall transport network
  • reduced environmental impacts
  • improved public health and reduced healthcare costs
  • improved community wellbeing and social cohesion.

The Australian Government supports measures to increase all aspects of active transport in Australian communities. It plays a key role in supporting strategic initiatives that enable delivery of physical activity policies, safety measures and infrastructure initiatives that support walking and cycling.

National strategies for safer and increased participation in walking and cycling

Cover image of National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 reportThe state, territory and Australian government road and transport ministers have signed the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020. It aims to reduce road deaths and serious injuries by 30 percent by 2020. The Strategy also adopts the Safe System approach: safe roads, safe speeds, safe vehicles and safe people.

Cover image of National Cycling Strategy 2011-2016 reportThe National Cycling Strategy 2011–16 was approved by Ministers in November 2010. The Strategy aims to double the rate of participation in cycling between 2011 and 2016.

The purpose of the Strategy is to coordinate the activities of various agencies across all levels of government to deliver agreed national cycling goals.

The Strategy has six key priorities and objectives:

  • Cycling promotion: promote cycling as both a viable and safe mode of transport and an enjoyable recreational activity
  • Infrastructure and facilities: create a comprehensive and continuous network of safe and attractive bicycle routes and end-of-trip facilities.
  • Integrated planning: consider and address cycling needs in all relevant transport and planning activities.
  • Safety: enable people to cycle safely.
  • Monitoring and evaluation: improve the monitoring and evaluation of cycling programmes, and develop a national decision-making process for investing in cycling.

An annual report on progress in implementing the Strategy is made by the Australian Bicycle Council to the Transport and Infrastructure Council.

Cover image of National Cycling Strategy Implementation reportIn July 2016 the Australian Bicycle Council published its Implementation Report 2015 which outlines the progress made on the National Cycling Strategy in 2015.

Safer infrastructure for walking and cycling

Two key objectives of transport infrastructure are to improve the efficiency of the transport network, and to improve safety. Appropriate infrastructure for walking and riding can support both of these objectives.

Pedestrians and cyclists are highly vulnerable when they interact in the road environment.

Access to well-connected, continuous and convenient routes is an important factor in any transportation system, whether for freight vehicles, cars, public transport, walking or riding.

The Australian Government supports safe road environments for all road users—pedestrians (which include most wheeled mobility and recreation devices such as skateboards, roller skates and roller blades) and cyclists.

While the designing, building and funding of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure is primarily a matter for state, territory and local governments, the Australian Government's investment in infrastructure includes, in relevant projects, the building of new cycling and pedestrian infrastructure as part of the overall project.

Australian Bicycle Council

The Australian Bicycle Council (ABC) was established in 1999 to oversee the National Cycling Strategy. The ABC consists of representatives of state, territory and local governments, the cycling industry and bicycle users. The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development has membership of the ABC Board, and attends the ABC Board meetings. The Department also funds Austroads (the association of Australasian road transport and traffic agencies) under the National Cycling Strategy to provide the secretariat for the ABC.


Cover image of Walking Riding and Access to Public Transport report The statement on Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport—supporting active travel in Australian communities PDF: 10713 KB ReadSpeaker was released in July 2013. The statement complements the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020, and the National Cycling Strategy 2011–16.


Last Updated: 6 January, 2017