Drive so others survive! National Road Safety Week is coming up next week, 15 to 22 May 2022. Traffic injury is the biggest killer of Australian children under 15. Amongst vulnerable road users, children are the most vulnerable. We need our children to be safe crossing roads if they are to walk to school. Many schools regard the existing safety to be inadequate. Let TCCS do more and talk less.
That TCCS has announced National Road Safety Week is a good thing, but take a look a close look at TCCS conviction to improve safety for children around schools, and we see that TCCS are disingenuous. TCCS need to put money where their mouth is and walk the talk.
The danger walking to school for our children is real with traffic injury is the biggest killer of Australian children under 15, even though most children are driven to school.
National Road Safety Week is a time to reflect on the lives that have been lost and is a reminder that road safety is everyone’s responsibility. Every year, more than 1,200 people are killed and 44,000 seriously injured on Australian roads. Traffic injury is the biggest killer of Australian children under 15 and the second-biggest killer of all Australians aged between 15 and 24. These numbers are growing every year but are fully preventable and not inevitable. In 2021, there were 11 lives lost in preventable road crashes in the ACT and another 4 road deaths have occurred so far in 2022.National Road Safety Week from 15 to 22 May 2022, TCCS, accessed 10 May 2022
Not enough is being done to improve the facilities around schools. Minister Chris Steel and TCCS are part of the problem. Local Area Traffic Management (LATM) is the mechanism to fix the problem around schools but Minister Steel put all LATM on hold last year.
Barriers to overcome
Minister has blocked all LATM
As directed by the Minister on 26 July 2021:Question Time Brief (QTB), Ministers Budget Estimates 2021-22, TCCS, FOI 21-111, released 3 November 2021, 145.
– All planned LATM implementations involving vertical traffic calming have been put on hold.
– No new LATM assessments will be undertaken without agreement from the Minister.
– Speed hump implementations associated with areas directly next to a school or essential safety works will require Ministerial sign-off prior to implementation.
LATM studies are currently unfunded
Implementation of recommended measures from the above studies are currently unfunded.Question Time Brief (QTB), Ministers Budget Estimates 2021-22, TCCS, FOI 21-111, released 3 November 2021, 144.
Road safety is driven by crash history
Traffic studies are undertaken on high priority streets (roads are prioritised based on current traffic speed, volume and crash data as well as the surrounding land use). Generally inappropriate speeding and/or crash rates trigger investigation warrants.Question Time Brief (QTB), Ministers Budget Estimates 2021-22, TCCS, FOI 21-111, released 3 November 2021, 143.
Not all incidents are equal. The order of importance for the ACT Government is approximately the following: deaths, personal injury, and then motor vehicle crashes. Only data that is gathered is considered. When 2 motor vehicles collide, that is recorded – at the very least by the insurance companies. If a person is taken to hospital, the hospital will record that, too.
Many things are not recorded, however. For example, your child falling off their bike because they were cut off by a car is not recorded if they rode home to tell you about it. Individual experiences like this can kill active travel. Children are unlikely to want to ride if they do not feel safe, and parents will not let their children ride to school when it is perceived unsafe.
While minor incidents will kill off active travel, it takes major incidents including the death of children to improve road safety. That’s what’s called insanity! The insensitivity of the feedback in the system makes things worse and drives our habits to a new equilibrium. We all drive our kids to school, because of all those dangerous drivers around schools. Minus yours truly, of course… 🤔
The efforts of TCCS are underwhelming
Canberra.bike supported the Lyneham petition to improve school safety. We wrote to Minister Chris Steel (see the email below). The reply was underwhelming. National Road Safety Week can be seen as a charade, as Minister Steel demonstrates little interested in fixing the problem around our schools.
2021-22 Budget for Active Travel and Safety Support for Schools
The ACT Budget includes money for improving the safety of infrastructure around schools, but it is only a tiny amount – $297,000 for the whole of the ACT. The data is found in the ACT Budget papers under Connected and sustainable Canberra – Active travel investments (TCCS CW26).
How much is that per school?
The calculation is shockingly simple, as is the outcome:
Comparison with transport investment
The active travel infrastructure for our schools and suburbs is LOW. The investment in “Active Travel and Safety Support for Schools” is just $297,000 for 2021-2022 (see above). Compare this to the largest transport projects and we see that the investment in riding and walking to school is just pennies. We continue to duplicate roads but neglect the infrastructure around our schools.
Road projects are the largest investment, with Monaro Highway upgrade and William Hovell Drive duplication making up about a third of the cake.
|By project||Total Budgeted Financing ($’000)|
|William Hovell Drive||$63,834|
|Northbourne Avenue pavement||$3,107|
|Canberra south-west corridor||$1,600|
The graph below shows that the active travel investment (just TCCS) in the 2021-2022 ACT Budget is significantly less than the last budget pre-COVID budget even though the ACT Transport spend has increased.
|Active Travel (AT)||$50.0||$21.5||million|
|AT estimate||Pedal Power||canberra.bike|
Email to Minister Steel
Active travel is all about kids – kids first and cars last. canberra.bike contributes with email and attachments to the Lyneham Primary School e-Petition.
Canberra.bike promotes active travel and walking to school. The petition is regarding the primary schools on Brigalow Street in Lyneham. Lyneham and O´Connor are great suburbs for active travel.
The reason children do not walk and ride to school is that the cars scare them away. Primary school children do not have the cognitive ability to judge the speed and distance of cars. The selfishness of drivers and disregard for other children’s safety makes this problem far worse.
What can be done? Lyneham and O´Connor offers opportunities. The infrastructure in Lyneham and O´Connor is coming up to the end of life and with it we can consider urban renewal.
The suburbs of Lyneham and O´Connor have a great location and the home of many schools. The terrain is generally very flat and suitable for cycling. Finally, three CBR Cycle Routes cross this area. Lyneham and O´Connor are close to both Civic and Dickson.
This case study contains the following elements.
- the Lyneham Primary School e-Petition
- Lyneham: a most walkable suburb
- Lyneham and O’Connor: one and not two
- Lyneham Primary School e-Petition video
- Lyneham O’Connor Path Survey video
A copy of the Lyneham Primary School e-Petition from the ACT Legislative Assembly website.
A statistical overview and analysis of the suburb to demonstrate its suitability for active travel – children both walking and cycling.
This article takes a closer look the suburb from the perspective of cycling. The emphasis is children. Large roads are major barriers for children. Strangely, we design Lyneham and O’Connor with major roads straight through the centre rather than going around the outside. The central area around Lyneham shops forms “one suburb” made up of both Lyneham and O’Connor.
Lyneham Primary School e-Petition video
This video is a flyover of the area along Brigalow Street between Lyneham Primary School and Brindabella Christian College. Due to the glorious tree cover in Lyneham, little of the paths was visible from the aerial imagery. However, from the flyover we get at overview of the area – a birds eye view.
Lyneham O’Connor Path Survey
A path survey of Lyneham and O´Connor conducted on Sunday, 20 March 2022, to get close up and under trees. The beautiful autumn day showed the very best of Lyneham and O’Connor. The light flickered through the tree canopies. From the video you should gain the impression that the urban landscape of Lyneham and O’Connor has great potential for active travel.
The ACT Government has talked about active travel for the last 20 years but done too little to make difference. The finger can be fairly pointed at ACT Labor who has formed government throughout this period. The platitudes offered in the Legislative Assembly do little to hide how little the ACT Government has achieved in recent years compared to other cities around the world that have seen cycling revolutions.
The text in this Info Box is found in the video Lyneham O’Connor Path Survey above. As the information may be missed by many, we have added the text again here.
Brigalow St and Wattle Street roundabout
Pedestrians should be able to cross here if the cars yield to pedestrians. What speaks for it:
- narrow crossing points
- traffic islands
- good visibility
Lyneham Shops Parking
Car parking areas are always busy but with a good pedestrian crossing to the shops, this one is better than most. The parking area is adjacent to the Lyneham Primary Year 5/6 drop off and pick up entrance.
Footpaths along Brigalow Street
With two schools 120 m apart and children walking in both directions, the footpaths need to be much wider. Separating cyclists and pedestrians gives a same width path greater capacity.
CBR Cycle Route C1
Both schools lack rear entrances with a direct connection to the CBR Cycle Route C1 cycle path. All pedestrians forced toward Brigalow Street. This makes little sense if you live behind the school. Children walking and riding need direct access to the cycle path.
Widening paths on Brigalow Street
Zebra crossings in front of both schools across Brigalow Street are good but not sufficient in themselves. Widening the footpath opposite the schools along Brigalow Street would reduce conflicts with cars entering the parking area.
Car drivers are the real problem
Parents driving their children to school are the cause of the problem. The tragedy of the commons is that the act of choosing to drive kids to school makes walking to school unsafe.
Austroads Safe Systems approach for road design presumes that drivers will make choices that bring pedestrians in danger and that the road system should be designed in such a way that the risks, injuries and fatalities are minimised. Children must be therefore given special consideration around roads and cars – particularly those in primary school.