ACT Health established programs to encourage walking and cycling to school in 2012. A decade later, most schools still do not participate in these programs. The participation rate for secondary schools is much lower than for primary schools. The ACT Government is slow to improve infrastructure around schools for active travel. Roads must be perceived as safe for these programs to succeed. What will it take to change this?
A demonstration of a car centric culture is the preference to duplicate arterials rather than fix the infrastructure around our schools. Good local road infrastructure is what makes our suburbs walkable and rideable. For children to walk or ride to school we need good and safe infrastructure within a kilometre of all schools. First, we need to make the roads safe for kids, and only then will parents think about other alternatives to driving children to school.
The street and road are not the same thing. Simply put, the road is for cars, but everybody benefits from the street. Take way the road and we still have a street, it may even serve the local community better.
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.
The standards for the maintenance of ACT community paths is famously documented in the Guidelines for community path repairs and maintenance at 30 June 2012. Even without getting off your bike, as cyclist, it is clear to observe that the criteria for intervention is often exceeded.
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?
Back to bike path maintenance. Over the last 20 years, path maintenance has been a weak spot in the ACT. TCCS is responsible for “presentation” which includes lawn mowing and maintenance of public space. The bike paths struggle to get the most basic attention. Here are recent photos from 2022.
Speeding has become the norm in Canberra. “In a 60 km/h speed limit area, the risk of involvement in a casualty crash doubles with each 5 km/h increase in travelling speed above 60 km/h.” 5 km/h above the speed limit is the equivalent of the blood alcohol concentration of 0.05. We have kicked the drink driving habit, can we now kick the speeding habit? A 25-year-old Australian study warns of the dangers of speeding.
Local Area Traffic Management is about identifying a range of measures to make streets safer – typically through traffic calming. For over a decade, TCCS is well aware of the importance of pedestrians and cyclists. Traffic calming is a way to shift the balance on our roads in their favour.
Children do not walk to school because cars make it unsafe to do so. To improve road safety for children around schools, we require traffic calming measures, on all sides, and to create safe zones where children can move without crossing motor vehicles. Any approach will require some government expenditure and urban renewal. TCCS have named the process Local Area Traffic Management (LATM). Lyneham Primary School e-Petition is a typical attempt to improve safety around the school. The chances of any improvement, however, are low. 😦