canberra.bike releases today our report Traffic calming: children centric street design (see attached). At its heart is that child friendly streets do not happen by accident but rather because we design them that way. We give priority to children rather than people who wish to drive. In this way, way make Whitlam shops and school a people friendly place.
Whitlam estate is new but has a poor implementation of ACT Active Travel Standards. The biggest issue is children crossing roads. The roads in Whitlam are very wide. Side streets have not been designed in a way to slow cars down. Evidence from traffic studies such as Kambah, would indicate that Canberra motorists will not stop for children without infrastructure such as zebra crossings in place. Whitlam Local Shops should “baked in” traffic calming into the road design of the surround streets. We see, however, for Alice Moyle Way, this is not the case.
COVID-19 has turned everything on its head, including the way the ACT Government goes about development. ACT Government has fast tracked infrastructure in old suburbs and now it is fast tracking infrastructure in the new. The Kenny High School was fast tracked for completion in 2023, which due to rain is now moved back to 2024.
Why is it so hard to implement traffic calming in the ACT? The mechanism is so slow and tedious with petitions and discussions dragged through the ACT Legislative Assembly. Surely slowing traffic is not such a big thing. TCCS seems ill prepared to deal with the problem in an agile way, and labours through the problem like a mammoth through the tundra. Tactile urbanism is a faster way to do this.
Ride to walk to school is a school curriculum program from the ACT Government. The website has material to download for teachers, students, parents and families. The Ride to walk to school program was implemented by the Physical Activity Foundation until December 2021. The future of the program is now unclear pending further information from the Transport Minister.
A school will be built in Whitlam, however, it is a few years away yet. The SLA is pushing forward the Whitlam local shops and school development in Whitlam Stage 3. By 2025 the situation will look much better for Whitlam residents but for now the suburb is isolated and lacks services. This leaves the residents of Whitlam to make do for at least 3 years.
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 and it may even serve the local community better – particularly for children.
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.