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A VicHealth submission to the State Government’s Road Safety Strategy makes 12 recommendations to make Victoria’s streets safer for pedestrians.
The submission comes as thousands of children across the state begin Week 2 of the VicHealth Walk to School challenge, making it a timely reminder about the need for safe streets for kids and communities.
Among the recommendations are lower speed limits around schools, road safety education campaigns, pedestrian crossings with ‘time left to cross’ indicators and more pedestrian crossings.
A VicHealth and Australian Council for Educational Research survey of 755 parents revealed three-quarters thought road safety was a major barrier to allowing their kids to walk to school. Only two in 10 parents thought it was safe for children to cross main roads alone – and two-thirds drove their children to school every day, despite the majority of families living within walking distance.
VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said VicHealth’s recommendations focus on the need to inspire more people in the community, particularly kids, to walk more often for their health.
“Just as parents have a responsibility to teach their kids about road safety, governments and motorists also have equal responsibility to make sure the roads are as safe as possible for kids. We know that in the first instance, better footpaths and lower speed limits will make a difference,” Ms Rechter said.
Ms Rechter added that research shows when more kids are out walking around their neighbourhood, the more likely drivers are to lower their speed instinctively – a habit motorists should embrace.
“Lowering speed limits around schools is one way of making our streets safer for more children to walk or ride to school and has the extra benefit of easing parents concerns about potential danger associated with vehicles, but it’s also up to motorists to keep kids safe,” Ms Rechter said. “We are very happy to see VicRoads is making a commitment to maintain and improve Victoria’s world-leading road safety record with this enquiry and hope to see our recommendations considered.”
Children, primary school teachers and parents are encouraged to sign up for VicHealth’s Walk to School campaign – it’s not too late to register. Go to www.walktoschool.vic.gov.au – check out thefacebook page - or search for ‘Walk to School’ in the Apple app store to get the iPhone app. In only one week, Victorian kids have walked the equivalent of Melbourne to Perth!
VicHealth recommendations for pedestrians
• Better align local planning policies (including Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plans) with the State Planning Policy Framework so there is greater focus on walking and a requirement to provide appropriate walking infrastructure.
• Provide sufficient pedestrian crossings on arterial and collector roads
• Contribute to research to assess the average time it takes for at risk populations (children, older people and the intoxicated) to safely cross the street and adjust pedestrian signals accordingly.
• Plan all new Victorian Government funded facilities and services with appropriate pedestrian access.
• Promote a ‘keep left’ culture on shared paths and provide information for local governments on reducing conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists.
• Trial new pedestrian signals that visually display how much time remains to cross a street.Deliver road safety education to primary schools.
• Research a targeted education campaign to encourage walking to school safely
• Review international programs which encourage employees to work from home to reduce the number of cars on our streets.
• Develop active transport guidelines for land use planning.
• Develop best practice guidelines for 40km/h zones.
• Align Speed Zoning Guidelines with the Transport Integration Act 2010.
• Update the Speed Zoning Guidelines to reflect 40km/h zones.