Active Whitehorse News – August 2021

Easy Ride Routes are here

Whitehorse City has found a new appetite for trying to encourage safer cycling in the city. 
But what’s an Easy Ride Route (ERR)?
It’s a road-marked route through quieter streets with these symbols.

Sharrows

They encourage bike riders to move to the centre of a traffic lane and ‘claim the lane’ in locations where the road narrows due to a traffic treatment like a roundabout or traffic island so that the bike rider is not squeezed off the road.
Definition adapted from Council website
Directional Arrows

These are bicycle symbols with a left or right arrow, indicating that the Easy Ride Route has a turn ahead as indicated by the arrow.
Definition adapted from Council website
Bike reminder signs

A bicycle symbol without any arrows. They are to remind drivers to watch out for bike riders along this section of road. They are placed near the centre of the road so that they are not covered by a parked car, or mistaken for an exclusive-use bike lane.
Definition adapted from Council website

Here’s how Easy Ride Routes came about.

The Whitehorse 2016 Bicycle Strategy aims to deliver by 2026, an approx. 30% increase in the number of work trips made by bicycle, especially those made totally within the city. It wants to more than double the number of female cyclists, and to increase the number of short distance trips (1-5km) by 7.5%. These are modest aims.

The other aim is to reduce the number of cyclists killed or injured on Whitehorse roads by 15% by 2026. Victoria’s  Towards Zero 2016-2020 Road Safety Strategy (see also Making local and busy places safer below) wants to achieve  a 20% reduction in deaths and 15% reduction in serious injuries by 2020. So this Whitehorse target is again extremely modest.

The Whitehorse strategy recommends the development of a low stress network to attract the 60% of people who say they are interested in riding but are concerned about safety. Research says that the top three “wants “ this group  have are:  more off-road shared paths, safer ways for cyclists to cross arterial roads, and safe linkages to shopping and other major precincts.

The Strategy proposed the development of a low stress network of local street areas where people will feel safer riding, and to connect these using safe crossing points at main roads. “Action 2” of the Strategy was to identify low stress “Easy Ride Routes” throughout the city in a grid like manner to create a network. “Action 4” was to identify the key arterial road crossing points and barriers. These Actions were to be done in the first 3 years. 

“Action 3” of the Strategy was to implement the identified routes during the next  4 to 7 years, and “Action 5” was to advocate to the state government for improvements to the identified key arterial road crossing points and other physical barriers. The timeline of 7 years meant completing Actions by 2023.

In total, 17 routes were identified as necessary to form a complete network. Six were prioritised for implementation – presumably by 2023.

The strategy covers the period 2016 to 2026, but unfortunately the implementation of the Easy Ride routes lagged behind. By 2020, only one route was planned to be implemented that year with others to follow in subsequent years. Like most networks, it requires most of the connections being available to actually make it a useable network. It looked like the plan to make a complete and useable network might take forever!

But, Covid-19 interjected, local advocates spoke out, Council personnel changed their views, Councillors got behind the idea of speeding things up, and the way the budget was allocated was changed.

The result?

The first 3 ERR’s

Three of the first six Easy Ride Routes have now been road-marked for all to see on the city’s streets.

Unfortunately there has been no discernible improvement to the crossing points and physical barriers as required by Actions 4 and 5 mentioned above. But the wheels of government sometimes move slowly.

The first three routes are not perfect, and some of the symbols used are non-standard and unique to Whitehorse. The routes are incomplete, can be a bit confusing at some places at this stage, and are not a network. So WATAG hopes Council will accelerate the delivery of all the six priority routes and then implement the rest in a relatively short time.

But it’s a good start! Keep going Whitehorse!

Refer to the Whitehorse Council website for more information: https://tinyurl.com/yzw4b9vn

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The Best of British Luck

UK Department for Transport (DfT), is introducing a new “hierarchy of responsibility” Rule.

The new UK Highway Code will introduce strengthened pedestrian priority on sidewalks and when they are crossing or waiting to cross a road – subject to approval from parliament when MPs return from summer recess.

“Pedestrians will be at the top of a new road user hierarchy with motorists—who have the most potential to harm other road users—being told they now have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they pose to others.

This new hierarchy could have significant ramifications in future court cases involving motorists hitting cyclists and pedestrians…”

Check the full article: https://tinyurl.com/4y74pnum

The Best of British Luck to UK pedestrians and cyclists for taking this great step. Its a pity we can’t have a similar unified code for all of Australia.

One weakness in the Code is that it recommends 30mph (40km/h) for local neighbourhoods, rather than the internationally recognised recommendation of 20mp/h (30km/h) . See our article Saving lives beyond 2020 where you will see that the UN recommendation is that:

“… a maximum road travel speed limit of 30 km/h be mandated in urban areas…”

Resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly 31 August 2020

Ironically the Welsh Government has taken the bold decision to set a national urban/village speed limit of 20 mph (30 km/h) by 2023.

Maybe they are not so British in Wales!

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Making local and busy places safer

The Victorian Towards Zero 2016-2020 Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan is called TOWARDS ZERO 2016//2020. The Minister for Road Safety at the time said in the introduction:

“When it comes to our own families and friends, we all want zero road deaths…
…we need consistent and locally relevant ways to share knowledge about how safe our roads are, how speed limits are set, how roads can be made safer, and how to encourage more people to behave safely on the roads.”

How and who sets speed limits is something that is totally in the Government’s hands.

WATAG believes we can, and should, do far more in Victoria to make lower speed limits the norm for residential streets.

  • It is vital that Victorian Speed Zoning Guidelines be changed to recognise 30kmh as an allowable speed limit in Victoria. As noted in the article above, 30km/hr is an internationally recognised aim for all local streets.
  • The additional bureaucratic hurdles in Victoria in particular, for local Councils to jump to get even a 30kmh trial is very off-putting – which is why very few apply & few get approved.

Residents of Glenburnie Rd in the Whitehorse Council area, asked Council to implement 30km/hr along their street early in 2020. Progress is painfully slow. Scroll through the article below GETTING ALL THE BRAKES – Herald Sun, 7/19/2021 by TESS IKONOMOU

It’s obvious this won’t happen very soon. And many other Councils have reported the same problem.

It can be solved.

There needs to be a review of Delegations for traffic management facilities from DoT to local Councils for local streets. These are streets which are otherwise totally under Council control. Approval from the Head of DoT should not be needed. And this should include the ability for Councils to designate lower speed limits, as they already can for temporary roadworks. Councils, together with communities they are engaging with, know what speed is most appropriate for their streets.

WATAG has asked for the peak organisations to get together and jointly request the Government to do this. If RACV, Bicycle Network, Victoria Walks, MAV got together with advocacy groups such as WATAG, Streets Alive Yarra, and experts from DoT’s Active Transport Victoria and Vulnerable Road User Program, and others, we are sure some progress could be made.

Like much to do with road safety on local streets, it really needs a national approach. The NSW fast-tracking approval processes for Streets as Shared Spaces now Delegates more authority to Councils in NSW (sadly not for speed changes), so it would be good for Victoria and other states to follow their example.

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Box Hill – let’s get the planning right

What a bonus to have an investment of $billions in the future of Box Hill.

Vicinity was represented at the stakeholder meetings held by Whitehorse Council, a year or two back, to look at the future of Box Hill as a Metropolitan Activity Centre (MAC) and an Integrated Transport Strategy for Box Hill. WATAG was also there to represent a community voice.

Scroll through the above document and for additional information about Vicinity’s proposal, check this link.

There was unanimity of opinion by all stakeholders that Box Hill needs to be transformed into a place that people want to go to and, importantly, a place that people can get to safely and easily – especially by Active and Public Transport.

It was especially agreed by all parties that a new pedestrian and cycling bridge over the railway line is essential to link Nelson Rd in the north to Thurston St at the south as shown on the map in red. This is an essential part of one of the key North-South Easy Ride Routes (ERRs) Council has planned.

It is vital that this not only connects the N-S route, but that it also provides easy access into the Main St/Mall area so that the ‘connectivity’ heavily emphasised in all discussions, is achieved.

At present the existing rail bridge connection serves this purpose (very poorly, but it’s there) or people have to walk through the busy shopping centre which is difficult for pedestrians, and impossible for cyclists. The disabled find this a total challenge too.

People using all Active Transport modes to move between the ThurstonSt/ Carrington Rd area and the beautifully upgraded Main St/Mall area shown in the Vicinity promotions above, must be catered for or the Box Hill we all hope to have will not be realised.

It is vital that the newly completed Box Hill-Ringwood shared user path – which terminates east of Station St – be connected to the proposed Box Hill-Hawthorn shared user path through Box Hill MAC in a safe and convenient way. All stakeholders, from the Victorian Government down to advocates and individual users, agree this is essential, and that this be catered for in all planning.
LXRP are factoring this path into their plans for the about-to-be-built Mont Albert/Surrey Hills rail project. But this path must not be simply a through-way to by-pass a busy Box Hill. It will be a travesty if this path is not built in a way which makes it a premium way for active transport users to get INTO the Box Hill MAC, and to readily and safely connect with all existing (quite deficient) routes and the planned ERR upgrades.

Vicinity currently have Planning Applications before Whitehorse Council for development of much of the site they own or control north of the railway line. (Those with a deep interest in the detail can look at the Vicinity applications at the Whitehorse web site. Click on Planning Register- at Advertising, click NEXT then look for 17-21 Market Street. The documents are many and very voluminous!)

An initial analysis of the plans.

There are very difficult physical, topographical and possible land title constraints to overcome in order to build the new Nelson-Thurston connecting bridge over the railway line. A full range of options for solutions to overcome these difficulties need to be publicly discussed with stakeholders.

Safe, bike friendly links between Main St/Market St area, Clisby Crt, the new link road proposed by Vicinity, and the routes over the rail line to Thurston St must be planned for before the current development plans are approved.

The existing rail bridge connection is shown on the new plans as a turntable for semi trailers servicing Woolworths. This seemingly renders it unusable for access by pedestrians, disabled and cyclists. As noted above, this is a vital link, and it must be shown how this will be retained or replaced with a suitable alternative.

The Vicinity designs above are very visually appealing in concept. Pedestrians will enjoy the open rising plazas. However the importance of easy bicycle access is not recognised well enough. There is a world-wide shift towards e-bikes – especially for older people – and they are heavier. So to really plan for the future, developments now must take this into account too.

Relative to current practice, the bike parking provision in the Vicinity plans might seem greater than normally provided – as an offset for decreased parking. This is good. However WATAG believes that the standard set nearby at Burwood Brickworks should be followed. It’s a much smaller development with, relatively, a lot more bike parking provision than Box Hill. And…the access to all bike parking must be very convenient or it will be a wasted asset.
PLUS Box Hill Station as the major facility of the transport hub, needs to have world class bike parking. Utrecht city in The Netherlands (with a population of about 350,000 – twice that of Whitehorse) is a major transport hub with Utrecht Station the pivot point. Bike parking at the station sets a standard all other cities with an aspiration to promote multi-modal transport should aspire to. Certainly we in Whitehorse should! Take a peek here to be inspired.

WATAG advocates for:

  • Certainty that the Nelson-Thurston Street rial bridge connection will be included in future development proposals in line with stated council policy. We would like to see Council and Vicinity developing concept plans of different options for public review, before this latest Vicinity development closes off any options.
  • Active transport access by way of a cycle friendly ramp or suitable large lifts (like those servicing Melbourne Airport parking) from Clisby Crt to Main Street.
  • Assurance that access to/from the south over the railway from the existing loading bay bridge is maintained with the proposed development, or a suitable alternative provided.
  • That a shared path linkage is provided for, as part of all new projects in Box Hill, between the Box Hill-to-Ringwood shared path that currently terminates at Station Street, through Main Street and Market St, into the Vicinity development and onwards to connect to the north-south Nelson-Thurston link.
  • Similarly, the the proposed Box Hill – Hawthorn shared user path path must connect conveniently to the centre of activity in the MAC and to the north-south Nelson-Thurston link.
  • It is vital for convenience, (which ensures usage!) that Main St be changed to a 10km/hr shared pedestrian/cycling zone. Southbank in Melbourne (which is far longer with much greater pedestrian and cyclist numbers than Box Hill) has successfully been configured as a 10km/hr shared zone. Why can’t Box Hill be treated the same way?
  • The Box Hill – Ringwood shared path must also connect conveniently as a through route to the proposed Box Hill – Hawthorn shared user path from both an easterly and westerly perspective. Council must ensure that all development proposals for Box Hill either advance this requirement or don’t impose barriers preventing it from future implementation.
  • That a separated cycle path is provided on the link road shown in Vicinity plans, to join with the future Nelson-Thurston Street rail bridge connection.
  • Maximum connectivity, convenience and safety for all transport modes irrespective of the direction from which a person approaches Box Hill MAC.

WATAG would like to join with all stakeholders, particularly Council and Vicinity, to work collaboratively towards achieving the best outcomes for ALL for Box Hill’s future.

Interested in more detail?

Peter Carter is one of WATAG’s founding members. His background is as a highly qualified traffic engineer. Scroll through the report below (or click the full-screen pop-out button) which he has personally prepared.

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A loopy connection?

An appropriate segue from the above article.

Source: The Melbourne Age 16 August 2021

City of Whitehorse Mayor, Cr. Andrew Munroe, has been quoted in Melbourne’s Age newspaper (16 August 2021) in an article by Timna Jacks, emphasising the need to create a “seamless interchange” with existing train platforms at Box Hill. He told The Age that Rail Loop officials has said that an underground pedestrian connection between the loop and existing train platforms was out of scope. “This is considered to be a significant deficiency in the [rail loop] scope,” Cr Munroe warned in a letter to Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan in April.

Source: Victorian State Government

The Age quotes Cr Munroe: “This uncoordinated approach to public transport infrastructure will result in passengers needing to navigate through a maze of ticketing entrances/exits, escalators, shopping areas and restaurant precincts to get from one train service to the other.”
The Mayor also said Box Hill’s “dysfunctional and disconnected” bus terminal required an urgent overhaul, which should be tied into the rail loop project.

The Age notes that “early designs of the new Burwood station – to be built at the edge of the six-lane Burwood Highway across the road from Deakin University” are also of concern to Cr Munroe. He does not want large numbers of students crossing the road from the station to the university campus, so Council is lobbying for an underpass and the university is calling for a grade-separated crossing above or beyond the highway.

WATAG members attended the recent Suburban Rail Loop public consultation sessions and made the same comments about inter-connectivity being so important.

  • At Box Hill there should be 3 station entrances servicing the very north end for the Hospital area, the middle for mall and shops (it should link right into Vicinity development) and at the very south end actually in the present station precinct, and Vicinity’s south development.
  • At Burwood the single entrance shown is poorly placed and totally inadequate. There must be a northern entrance directed to suit both Deakin University and Mount Scopus College to the east, and PLC to the west, and a southern entrance located to maximise ease of entry for residents.

You can have YOUR say about the proposed station at Box Hill and Burwood Station too.

We recommend it. The more voices who comment the better!

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Uncertain planning

How Transport Planners and Policy Makers Can Respond to Shifting Mobility Trends

Travel behaviour has evolved in unexpected ways in urbanised areas in the early 21st century. Scroll through this report below. It examines how significant breaks with past trends happened – and why these shifts were not foreseen. The Covid-19 pandemic adds to uncertainty about future demand to travel. Forecast-led transport planning is not well equipped to handle uncertainty. The report presents new approaches which explicitly address uncertainty, are vision-led and enable the development of resilient plans. It also considers how governance and institutions can be adapted to support such a paradigm shift.

https://www.itf-oecd.org/travel-transitions-policy-makers-respond-mobility-trends

If you’re a transport planner, this article is for you.
If you’re not, please bring it to the attention of your area’s transport planners.

And here’s some extra top-rate resources for those planning and advocating for cycling networks:

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Picture a possible future

Another brilliant work by Jan Kamensky about car-loving Berlin – to Inspire the Transport Planners

Your street or local neighbourhood could be transformed too.
Read the “Making local and busy places safer” article above as a starting point.
Look back to previous newsletters:

And tell your local planners and Councillors what YOU think.

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It’s time for more

WATAG’s credibility rests with the large number of subscribers to this newsletter.

But we want MORE!
We’d love you to show you love us by encouraging us … and becoming a Member
Or at least a Friend (which is free!)

Annual Membership is due NOW.
It’s only about 20c/week – ie $10/year. Pretty reasonable eh?

We’d love you to give it a go! Just Click here to check it out.

Or if you are new to this Newsletter, click the Subscribe button in the right column to be sure you get future editions approx. every two months.


The last word


Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia, cycling to work on 13 May 2021

Interested in being Active too? Here’s how

Join a local group that enables you to be active and social too!

  1. Like walking (and some bike riding too)?
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mwbclogo.jpg
If you want to enjoy the great outdoors, meet new people and take up a physical activity for your health then explore the MWBC website.(Click image above)

2. Or is regular bike riding your idea of fun?

Whitehorse cyclists
We are a happy group of men and women who love the outdoors, enjoy riding bicycles and thrive in other people’s company.

Image credit: Chris Trueman

Bike parking is easy for morning tea time at Aqualink Box Hill during a Whitehorse Cyclist’s Easy Tuesday ride.
Around 25 riders getting fitter and enjoying the company of friends.
Good for local business too by putting money back into the local community.


Tell us what you think about articles in the newsletter in the “Leave a Reply” box below.

2 Responses to Active Whitehorse News – August 2021

  1. Helen says:

    Thank you for the article about “What makes a good Orbital Rail”. I appreciated the link to Suburban Rail Loop Stage One: Box Hill. I have given my feedback to Engage Vic about this project and encourage other readers of WATAG to do the same.

    Like

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