About Make the Move

About this project

The Make the Move project is a collaboration between the Conservation Council ACT Region and the Canberra Environment Centre to help Canberra commuters move from daily car travel to active and public transport alternatives.

To tackle global climate change, the ACT Government has committed to a legislated target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. As of 2020, 100% of the ACT’s electricity is sourced through world-leading reverse auction contracts for renewable wind, solar and hydro power. The next biggest source of emissions is the transport sector, comprising 62% of remaining emissions, dominated by private vehicles (around 22% comes from gas use in buildings, 11% from industrial processes and the remainder from waste (4%) and other sources (1%)). 

The city could achieve significant emissions reductions simply by switching all vehicles to electric power or other ‘green’ fuels, which the ACT Government is pursuing for the public transport system and government fleet vehicles. It is also introducing measures to incentivise the uptake of clean-energy-powered cars by the community. However, focusing on fuel-switching alone would miss the opportunity to achieve the range of social, economic and environmental co-benefits that are central to Canberra’s future vision as a world-class sustainable city. The free (over)use of roads is an example of ‘the tragedy of the commons’ where the benefits of car travel enjoyed by individuals accrue at the expense of externalised social, economic and environmental costs. The freedom to drive is not an inalienable right, and indeed greater freedom (eg from the costs and responsibilities of car ownership) can be attained by other modes of transport.

In the 1970s and 80s, Canberra had quite high rates of public transport usage and growth in car ownership stopped. But then road-oriented planning reversed these gains and Canberra attained the reputation of having a ‘love affair’ with cars. In 2016 Canberrans drove the most car kilometers per person of any Australian city! The number of registered passenger and light commercial vehicles now equates to about five cars for every six adults (over 16 years). With a population of over 420,000 people projected to reach 580,000 by 2040, the city can ill afford for every adult to own and drive their own car which has been the trend in recent decades. Urban densification rather than further sprawl, plus improved active transport infrastructure, public transport services and other on-demand transport options help to support more sustainable lifestyles where car ownership is no longer either necessary or the social norm. 

Funded by an ACT Government Community Zero Emissions Grant, the Conservation Council ACT Region’s ‘Make the Move’ project addresses behavioural barriers to mode-shifting from private cars to public and active transport to tackle the related issues of climate change, road congestion, land use and amenity, resource consumption, urban planning, social equity and public health and wellbeing. By demonstrating how to make active travel easy, we hope to encourage more Canberrans to make the move out of their cars. The Council contends that with a bit of planning and adjustment, most families could swap a second (or third) car for other modes of transport and reap significant health benefits and cost-savings.

More people cycling and taking buses justifies greater investment in infrastructure and services, in turn improving access for more people, addressing social equity. When people are on foot or bikes, they are more likely to stop and interact with people and places along their trips, supporting local businesses and strengthening local community cohesion and individual wellbeing. Active neighbourhoods are more liveable for everyone, with higher levels of social capital and lower levels of crime. Walking, cycling and public transport are more affordable than owning cars and improve public health outcomes for people who are time-poor or can’t afford exercise as a leisure activity. Active travel reduces the cost of living, freeing up family time and budgets for other activities that improve quality of life.

With 25% of trips undertaken for work, workplaces can play a pivotal role in this transition by providing the ‘end of trip’ facilities and flexibility to support staff to adopt new travel habits. Employers could fund training courses, provide bikes and scooters for staff to use during the day, and ensure that active travel is covered by insurance.

Conservation Council ACT Region

The Conservation Council ACT Region is the peak non-government environment organisation for the ACT and surrounding region. We have been advocating for the environment since 1981. We represent more than 40 member groups and harness the collective expertise and experience of our member groups and networks. We work collaboratively with Government, business and the community to achieve the highest quality environment for Canberra and its region.

Project co-director: Helen Oakey, Executive Director

Lead author & project officer: Kirsten Duncan, Campaigner


Email: [email protected]
Phone: (02) 6229 3200
Postal address: GPO Box 544 Canberra ACT 2601
Street address: Unit 14/26 Barry Drive, Ground Floor, Lena Karmel Lodge, Canberra ACT 2601
ABN: 68 248 339 828

Canberra Environment Centre

The Canberra Environment Centre is a non-government, not for profit environmental education centre that empowers people to create a sustainable future for the Canberra community by supporting lifelong behavioural change. We run the ReCyclery, a community bicycle workshop where all Canberrans can gain and share bicycle maintenance skills while working towards a healthier city. We refurbish pre-loved bikes and pass them along to people who need them.

Project co-director: Ryan Lungu, Executive Director

Project officer: Chrissie Atkinson, Admin and Projects Assistant


Email: [email protected]
Phone: (02) 6248 0885
Postal address: PO Box 97 Gungahlin ACT 2912
Street address: Gungaderra Homestead, Harrison ACT 2914
ABN: 33 672 938 987


This website was developed with support from:

Ian Ross, Pedal Power ACT

Brook Clinton & Zuleka Chan, SEE-Change

Anne Napier, Transport Canberra

Simone Annis, Switched on Cycles

Paul Magarey, former Chair of the Australian Bicycle Council 

Ryan Hemsley, Public Transport Association of Canberra

Rob Ogilvie, Australian Electric Vehicle Association Canberra Branch

Gill King, Living Streets Canberra

Rob Clode, Limegreentangerine

Will Middleton & Jimmy Ennett, Crux Media


This project was funded by the ACT Government under the 2020 Community Zero Emissions Grants.

The Conservation Council ACT Region and Canberra Environment Centre are not-for-profit organisations funded by donations, membership fees, and the ACT Government. They are not affiliated with and do not receive funding from any transport company.

The content of this website was developed independent of government and does not necessarily represent government policy. 

Transport Canberra

Visit Transport Canberra for journey planning, active travel and public transport information and to query or provide feedback on services.

Make the Move is independent of but complements Transport Canberra. Where inconsistencies occur, follow Transport Canberra’s advice.

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