Is it just me or is it pretty bloody obvious when an election is looming? I don't know about your state or territory, but in mine during the weeks and months leading up to an election the party in power just seems to magically find money from nowhere to build stuff we didn't even know we wanted or needed. And that would kind-of be OK, at least for those areas of the community getting some benefit, if it weren't for various infrastructure and services that we know we need either deteriorating, closing, or never being provided or constructed to begin with (and the Premier having told us there's no more money for nurses, public transport or other things). If I seem cranky, it's because I am. Without any notice that I can remember or find, I've been woken nearly two hours early twice in a row so far so that a $150,000 worth of cycle path that literally nobody will use can be constructed in my obscure little corner of a very little town (population under 1000). Meanwhile a bit of the crossroad that it will go down to reach the main street is pictured. It looks like that for quite some distance and it's not even the worst section of road in town. That would be a corner everyone entering or leaving to the north uses. I could call out my individual council and local member of state parliament with more specific details, but the root cause of the issue appears to be systemic and I don't believe it's confined to my state either. The problem, at its core, is in the way funding is allocated, and (in what can only be described as thinly-disguised pork-barrelling) the way it's being implemented has made it utterly absurd. It works like this. Funding from the states or territories and the federal government seems to get dished out these days through "programs". A department - or ministry - creates a program, which then gets a bucket of funds allocated to it at budget time. The size of that bucket seems arbitrary. The program then needs to find ways to spend that money. This is done by offering "grants" which local councils or communities can apply for. It's how we seem to get lots of things, whether it's putting wombat crossings in front of more regional schools (which I don't object to), rebuilding changing facilities at sports grounds for women (originally to address their absence in some locations), creating new sealed pathways and cycleways (as I'm witnessing right now), or getting any funds at all to repair or improve local roads after all the damage that has been caused by being constantly soggy underneath. As an example of the above process, the path under construction is just one of 161 similar projects in "stage 3" having some of the $117 million spent on them. The ministry (department) is Active Transport. The name of the program is Get NSW Active. And councils across the state applied to have a slice of this money granted to them (the successful councils then get the actual work done). The program's aim, according to the press release I found on the council website while the excavator was doing its thing right outside, says "Get NSW Active provides funding for local projects that encourage vibrant centres and liveable neighbourhoods through the creation of street environments that prioritise walking and cycling." Except I was already walking if I needed to visit the post office, or corner shop. The ground was hard and even, and I've never felt unsafe walking anywhere around here, including on the road, because most of the time it's so quiet that I can hear a lead-acid battery charging. It's also a half hour drive to the nearest supermarkets, and most people work either from home or in one of the locations with big shops, so no amount of laying concrete on what was already a very wide path area is going to make any difference. Meanwhile, how many serious cyclists actually use the bike paths? I believe that it's approximately none. Drive from Parramatta to Richmond on a weekend and notice that you'll see only a handful of people on bikes, and most of those will be lycra-clad enthusiasts still using the road. And they're allowed to do that, but it just emphasises the point that these paths are failing to "Get NSW Active" even where there are larger populations.