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urban planning

Active Streets: prioritising path maintenance

People need paths. We all want good paths. Maintenance is expensive, boring and thankless. We expect path maintenance though. What are Active Streets?

Active Streets is an ACT Government program that should not be confused with Active Travel Streets. Active Streets is a budget measure to improve the paths in older suburbs, particularly around shopping centres and schools. Path routine maintenance is relatively unlikely as it is expensive. The ACT Government deserves acknowledgement for the effort but the funds are still limited. 

For active travel, the infrastructure in older suburbs needs to be improved. This is discussed in the post: Active Travel Streets: making cycling safer

Active Travel Streets is the transformation of older suburbs with the replacement of the old with the new. It is the reconception of the space and rebalancing the priorities to make more space for people. Active Travel Streets is a renewal of an old space. 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Active Streets is the maintenance of existing space and does not fundamentally change the balance. It is driven by a duty of care (making the path safe) and cost expediency (paths that are not fixed are more expensive to replace). Active Streets is not sexy but for our old and very young loved ones it is very important. Those with disabilities will benefit from Active Streets, too, as it can include improvements such as gutter ramps. Cyclists will also see the benefits. Cycling does not, however, have to be an important part of the concept. This is self-evident from the photos in Evatt.

Road safety around schools in the territory is also being improved through the active streets program, which was piloted and evaluated at four schools earlier in the year. This will see a $1 million expansion of the program, which will also encompass a range of schools in my electorate—Chapman, Curtin, Holy Trinity primary, Garran primary, Hughes primary, Melrose High and Sacred Heart primary. This is part of the $30 million our government is investing over the forward estimates to improve walking and cycling infrastructure in Canberra, including improvements inside the Woden town centre, better links from the town centre to the Canberra Hospital and the Woden bus interchange, the construction of Butters Bridge in the Molonglo Valley, and upgrades to help improve accessibility for seniors in Weston.

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (20 September), Page 4029

The construction of Butters Bridge in the Molonglo Valley I find a bit of a stretch as it is a bridge for a sewer pipe across the Molonglo Valley as part of the estate development. There are no paved paths to the bridge and nobody currently lives there. The bridge cost $7.7 million to build and was completed in 2016.

This is not a pedestrian path but a community path and can be used by all active travellers. The blue sign is a warning that school children are likely to walk here. Evatt, Belconnen.
This is not a pedestrian path but a community path and can be used by all active travellers. The blue sign is a warning that school children are likely to walk here. Evatt, Belconnen.
In older suburbs, you will often find underpasses. Community paths around Evatt local shops, Belconnen
In older suburbs, you will often find underpasses providing access to shops without having to cross a busy road. This is rare in newer suburbs. Evatt local shops in the background. Community paths around Evatt, Belconnen
This is not a pedestrian path but a community path and can be used by all active travellers. The blue sign is a warning that school children are likely to walk here. Evatt, Belconnen.
Evatt underpass. The blue sign warning of school children. Evatt, Belconnen.
Community paths around Evatt local shops, Belconnen. In older suburbs, the gradients are often more than one would like. Steep paths and ramps are not consistent with active travel standards and ACT Disability Act.
Community paths around Evatt local shops, Belconnen. In older suburbs, the gradients are often more than one would like. Steep paths and ramps are not consistent with active travel standards and the ACT Disability Act.
Community paths around Evatt local shops, Belconnen. The joy of childhood.
Community paths around Evatt local shops, Belconnen. The joy of childhood.
Even though adjacent paths have warnings for school children the same cannot be said for the entrance to the car park. Considering there are paths provided around the shops, it would be best not to cross here. Children are anything but predictable and a sign warning motorist to watch for pedestrians would be sensible considering the primary school is just down the street.
Even though adjacent paths have warnings of school children the same cannot be said for the entrance to the car park. Considering there are paths provided around the shops, it would be best not to cross here. Children are anything but predictable and a sign warning motorist to watch for pedestrians would be sensible, considering the primary school is just down the road.
Community path in Evatt, Belconnen. There should be 0.5m clearance of obstacles for it to be safe for the cyclist according to ACT standards. The proximity of the bollard could be fixed
Community path in Evatt, Belconnen. There should be a 0.5m clearance between path and obstacles for it to be safe for the cyclist according to ACT standards. The bollard could be moved into the garden.
Community path in Evatt, Belconnen. Overgrown paths are common in Canberra and require maintenance.
Community path in Evatt, Belconnen. Overgrown paths are common in Canberra and make the paths even narrower. Just a little maintenance is required here.
Community path in Evatt, Belconnen. There should be 0.5m clearance of obstacles for it to be safe for the cyclist according to ACT standards. This is why paths should not be put hard up against a wall.
Community path in Evatt, Belconnen. Again, there should be 0.5m clearance of obstacles for it to be safe for the cyclist according to ACT standards. The handlebar and pedal extend over the edge of the path. This is why paths should not be put hard up against a wall.
Old paths at Evatt local shops. The path is overgrown and cracked. This area could be rejuvenated, as the ACT Government has already done for other local shopping centres, Belconnen.
Old paths at Evatt local shops. The path is overgrown, cracked and requiring maintenance. This garden area could be rejuvenated, as the ACT Government has already done for other local shopping centres in Belconnen.
The path is safe but old. At some point, this path will need replacing. Community paths around Evatt local shops, Belconnen
The path is safe but old. At some point, this path will need replacing. It is ridable for now as the cracks can be avoided. Should one side lift this would be a hazard. Community paths around Evatt local shops, Belconnen

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