‘Skyrail’ has got the thumbs up for pedestrians, but Victoria Walks says improvements are still needed to the state government’s level crossing removal program.
A new report released by Victoria Walks examines the pedestrian access implications of plans for elevated rail on the Pakenham-Cranbourne line, and the associated upgrade of Carnegie Station, to draw lessons for this and future rail projects.
“The good news is that elevated rail will allow people to walk between neighbourhoods on either side of the line” said Victoria Walks executive officer, Dr Ben Rossiter, “but building shared walking and cycling paths around stations is very concerning”.
“Many seniors rely on walking to get to stations, and we’ve provided the Government with research showing shared paths don’t work for them and puts them off walking” said Dr Rossiter.
“These designs risk repeating the mistakes of the past”.
“If we want people walking we need to separate them from fast riding commuter cyclists” said Dr Rossiter.
“It’s a multi-billion dollar project, I think we can afford to give walkers and bike riders their own paths.”
The Planning for Pedestrian Accessibility at Level Crossings and Railway Stations report was written by Dr David Mepham, Director of consultancy DMC, for Victoria Walks.
Dr Mepham fears increased traffic flow and speed related to the removal of level crossings may damage adjoining shopping precincts, particularly at stations like Carnegie where 70 per cent of train passengers walk to the station.
“When people access local stations on foot they are bringing life to the street and supporting the local economy,” Dr Mepham notes.
“The project needs to provide high quality pedestrian crossings and traffic calming to ensure the ‘Main Street’ environment is not damaged.”
Dr Mepham also believes free and unregulated parking at urban stations contributes to congestion, degrades the station place and is a barrier to walking.
“Typically urban stations rely heavily on walk up patrons who also invest in the local economy and animate the place”, said Dr Mepham. “Contrast this with the ‘investment’ in free park and ride which favours a few and tends to compromise access for the majority”.
“We should address walking access to stations through planning and supporting infrastructure and investigate paid park and ride options to fund these improvements” said Dr Mepham.
Dr Mepham’s report recommends that the government cap station car parking at current levels and undertake cost-benefit analysis to consider whether parking should be reduced.
“People need to understand that free parking actually costs a lot to provide”.
The report is available at www.victoriawalks.org.au/level-crossing-removal/
- Dr Ben Rossiter, Executive Officer, Victoria Walks, 0425 805 578 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr David Mepham, Director DMC, 0410 629 035
Victoria Walks (www.victoriawalks.org.au) is an independent walking promotion charity funded by VicHealth.