Active Whitehorse News – December 2020

The WATAG Committee wishes you a Happy Christmas season
and a smoother Active Transport journey in 2021

Here’s what’s in this edition

Oh to be 30 again!

Once upon a time I was 30. It was many years ago. If only I knew then what was ahead of me.

Many years before that, the speed at which people travelled on roads was less than 30 km/h.  Horses don’t go very fast. And the earliest cars were not much competition for the horses either.  The most popular cars for the first five years of the early 1900’s were in fact electric cars and they were capable of about 25 km/h.

If only people knew then what was ahead.

It was only ten years earlier on 17 August 1896 in the UK that Bridget Driscoll was the first person to die as a result of a petrol-engine car accident. She was in fact the first pedestrian victim of an automobile accident in the UK. And in the US it was three years later on 13 September 1899  that Henry H Bliss became the first person killed by a car. He was struck by an electric-powered taxicab while exiting the 8th Avenue trolley on West 74th Street in New York City.

Today, approximately 1.35 million people die worldwide every year as a result of road traffic crashes

When you reflect on the fact that approx. 1.34 million people have died this year due to Covid-19 it really makes you think. Covid is such a major problem, so we hope a vaccine will soon be available, and everyone will want it.

But another 1.35 million or so will die next year as a result of a road traffic crash, and the year after and so on. Where is the vaccine for that, and will we all be keen to get a shot?

Should we have lower speeds on local streets?

A recent study Understanding Pedestrian Crashes in Victoria for Victoria Walks by  Monash University Accident Research Centre says YES.

The study’s first recommendation is for reductions in speed limits, including to 30 km/h in areas of high pedestrian activity and residential streets. 
In a crash, because of their small stature, children are more likely to be struck in the head or upper body, both areas having an elevated risk of producing severe injury.
Other studies have shown conclusively that a speed of 30km/h reduces the serious trauma risk to an adult to about 20% compared to 100% at 70km/h, and the risk of death to near zero compare to near 100%.

30 km/h – not a bad vaccine with that kind of effectiveness!

Would you be happy to have a shot?

If you have a view, click to leave a reply or comment

Need more convincing?

For an in-depth consideration of lower speeds on Australian local streets, and why we need this, read the comprehensive information at

Here’s a link to their latest newsletter, and a really good opinion piece on “Why drivers will thank you for 30km/h” . Both worth a read!!

Why not contact your local authorities to ask them to take action!

Let us know what you think, click to leave a reply or comment

If 30 is good, what about 20?

WATAG thinks 20 is terrific! Let’s all work towards achieving it.

What are your views? How can we do this locally in suburban cities like Whitehorse?

If you have a view, click to leave a reply or comment

20 or 30…it’s “What Australia Wants”

The Heart Foundation has released the results of a survey, titled “What Australia Wants“, which is to live locally in walkable neighbourhoods, and to redirect road funding to walking, cycling, and public transport.

Image credit: Heart Foundation

The report is 118 pages long. Notable results include clear support for:

  • active neighbourhoods
  • redirecting road funding to infrastructure for active transport
  • reducing speed limits
Image credit Streets Alive Yarra

For an excellent summary of the survey click this page at Streets Alive Yarra.
(WATAG gives credit to Streets Alive Yarra for many of these words)
The Streets Alive Yarra website is a great place to visit to learn how your community can be a beautiful, liveable and accessible city too.

Click here to check it out.

If you have a view, click to leave a reply or comment

Cycle lanes or cycle tracks – do we need them?

There’s a big benefit for some…

Mobility scooters and other vehicles for people with disabilities on Dutch cycling infrastructure. Article content courtesy Bicycle Dutch

Check the Bicycle Dutch website for more information about what applies in the Netherlands. Then reflect on what the situation is in your town and talk to your local authorities if you think things should be better.

If you have a view, click to leave a reply or comment

… but it might be a vexed question in the Netherlands.

Although they are still frequently used in the Netherlands, cycle lanes don’t really fit in the current Dutch traffic policies of Sustainable Safety. This is a reminder that even though the Dutch seem light years ahead, they still seek to achieve Sustainable Safety!

This is an on-street cycle lane with the absolute minimum width of 1.7 metres, which – clearly – is not wide enough to safely cycle side by side with your child. Motor traffic often stays in their lane and that is too close in this case

Under Sustainable Safety policies you either:

  • mix traffic completely, on streets with low volumes of motor traffic and a speed of 30km/h, or
  • create genuine separation on (distributor) streets and roads with a speed limit of 50km/h.

Sustainable Safety dictates that people must be able to cycle at a safe distance from motor traffic.

For a more detailed discussion on cycle lanes in The Netherlands read this very interesting Bicycle Dutch article, and check out the video at the end. Then reflect on the way cycle lanes are installed in Australia, and how we seem to consider sharrows to be a big advance, whilst they are not used in The Netherlands.

Is there a lesson for us in Australia?

If you have a view, click to leave a reply or comment

The story of the flying train

Recently the Museum of Modern Art posted an amazing video of the Schwebebahn filmed in 1902. Located in Wuppertal, Germany, this is the oldest suspended monorail in the world and is still in operation today! Imagine the vision and future thinking that was required to introduce something so intrusive into a city.
What would be the equivalent transport tech in today’s world – Sky Rail?

The Flying Train (1902)| – MoMA Film Vault Summer Camp –
Click image to see Wuppertal today

Maybe you are wondering…

How did this masterpiece of railway engineering come about in the beginning?
What’s become of it today?
Check it out here.
Is this the Sky Rail we have been talking about in Melbourne?

Cycling’s technological transformation

Scroll through the document above (14 pages) or download.

From Deloitte Insights 2020

Changing travel behaviour

How can you make alternatives, such as public transport and cycling, attractive?
How do you get drivers out of their cars? Especially when they have this kind of attitude?

Groundbreaking research by Maarten Kroesen, a researcher into travel behaviour at TU Delft, has shown that influencing a person’s attitudes to travel does not necessarily lead to a change in their travel behaviour.

In fact the reverse is most often true. But…change the behaviour by using serious measures, and after the new behaviour has been actually experienced their attitude is far more likely to change.

In a similar way, the serious measures we are taking to face the corona crisis, will most likely influence the way we work and study in the future.

“The models currently being used to research travel behaviour present a simplistic view of reality. They assume that a change in attitude results in a change in behaviour, but things are much more complicated than that.”

Maarten Kroesen

Maarten says “Current policy focuses on subtle nudges that aim to bring about a positive attitude towards alternative forms of transport but this has little effect. For fifty years, the world of travel behaviour research has ignored the fact that the models researchers use are actually incomplete, because of the lack of reciprocity between attitudes and behaviour.”

His findings show that serious measures are needed to get drivers out of their cars, because influencing attitudes and perceptions alone will not do. “You need to ensure that different behaviour is immediately encouraged, the attitude will then change in line with the change in behaviour.”

Read the article here.

If you have a view, click to leave a reply or comment

Traffic Lights favour cars

Traffic signals give priority to motor vehicles over pedestrians. This inequality undermines many of the stated goals of transport, health and environment policy. State and city governments say they want to encourage walking and biking for many reasons:

Automated allocation of crossing time for pedestrians has banished the ‘beg button’. Photo by Amelia Thorpe

  • it is space efficient
  • it has less environmental impact
  • it is healthier
  • it is safer for other travellers
  • it reduces the numbers of cars on the road, so even motorists should be in favour of other people walking.

To help achieve these goals, road management agencies should reprioritise traffic signals to redistribute delays at intersections from pedestrians to cars.

Pedestrians once crossed the street whenever and wherever they wanted. The introduction of signals prioritised the movement of motor vehicles at the expense of pedestrians, which slowed effective walking speed through the city. Pedestrians now spend roughly 20% of their time waiting at intersections. The consequences of making it easier to drive and harder to walk are consistent with the rise of vehicle-dominated cities.

Read the full article in The Conversation 11 June 2020 by David Levison, Professor of Transport, University of Sydney.

Also check Bikes Get the green light to see what can be done.

Is this the answer? In-ground sensing technology now makes reverse priority a practical reality. So why don’t we try it?

Cycling cities for the young

Scroll through this excellent review of how we should be providing for the young.

Imagine this future

Just imagine how much space we have for cycling, walking, meeting, playing, tree-planting and social-distancing. If only we remove some car parking from our streets!
How would your street look? Would you like to have space for YOU rather than for cars?

‘Vrijstraat’ animation by @thenaturalcity

Big ideas to keep the city moving

As Melburnians get back on the road, experts predict traffic could rebound to worse than pre-COVID levels. How can we avoid a road congestion crisis?  

Remember traffic? As Victorians enjoy the first weeks of easing restrictions it turns out there is good and bad news. First the good. A recent Monash University study found that as more and more people work from home, one in five white-collar workers will stop travelling into Melbourne’s CBD. 

The bad news is nine per cent of the state’s public transport commuters are likely to switch to cars, raising the prospect of CBD gridlock.

The RACV article presents big ideas by three experts:

  • Reduce demand by Professor Hai L. Vu. Expert in transport modelling and intelligent transport systems, Monash University
  • Digitise the kerb by Timothy Papandreou, Founder of Emerging Transport Advisors and expert on disruptive transport technologies
  • Bicycle revolution by Stephen Hodge, Former competitive cyclist and spokesman for national bicycle advocacy foundation We Ride Australia

If you have a view, click to leave a reply or comment

Level crossing removal – Surrey Hills & Mont Albert

Boom gates gone in 2023. Rail trench with new premium station providing more trains more often.

The two crossings will be removed with a rail trench and the old stations (Surrey Hills Pictured above) will be replaced with one premium station with separate entrances for Surrey Hills and Mont Albert (as shown in the diagram).

The existing stations are located on curved sections of track which LXRP says obscures sight-lines for train drivers and create a dangerous gap between the carriages and platforms. They say that rebuilding two stations on curved sections of track would be a breach of rail safety standards and cannot be considered, and that moving the stations to straight tracks would have required moving them closer together – so close that it makes more sense to combine them.

LXRP is committed to a trench rather than SkyRail, and this accords with what the local community wants. Scroll through the document below.

Visit the LXRP website for more information.

WATAG is concerned that, as occurred in Blackburn, the design will do little to enhance connectivity across the deep trench and a station that only looks partially underground. There is a need for a continuous shared path from Box Hill to Hawthorn, and this development presents an opportunity to bring that to fruition in this local area.

The Djerring Trail on the Dandenong line has created a major connecting path which locals have learned to really appreciate because of the cross-rail connectivity it has provided. Communities need to be connected so that Active Transport modes become the preferential way in the future.

LXRP is inviting interested people to join a Community Reference Group. If you are interested, check here.

Whitehorse Council election results

Successful Councillors announced.

The following information has been extracted from Wikipedia which in turn lists its source as Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC)

Effective from the 2020 Whitehorse will switch from five two-member wards to eleven single-member wards.[4][5] The names of the eleven single-member wards are: Cootamundra, Eley, Elgar, Kingsley, Lake, Mahoneys, Simpson, Sparks, Terrara, Walker and Wattle.[6]

The current Councillors, elected at the 2020 election, are as follows:[7]

WATAG congratulates the elected Councillors.

In the spirit of the new Local Government Act 2020, WATAG seeks to build valuable relationships with Councillors and Officers. The new ACT embodies “Principles of Community Engagement” with which we totally agree.

The process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the well-being of those people is a powerful vehicle for bringing about positive change that a community is invested in..

It often involves partnerships and coalitions that help mobilise resources and influence systems, change relationships among partners, and serve as a catalyst for changing policies, programs, and practices.

Reproduced from “Principles of Community Engagement

WATAG, with its ‘special interest‘ in making Active Transport a safe, convenient and accessible option for all community members – including the young, old, disabled and disadvantaged – is ideally placed to help.

We have some special insights and expertise that we know will benefit the community if we work with Councillors and Officers to build ‘partnerships‘ that will ‘serve as a catalyst for changing policies, programs and practices.


For more information on Councillors and Wards visit Whitehorse Council website.

Also check Declining trust in government – Four things Local Councils should do right now.

A picture tells a thousand words

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 our 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.

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.

Some questions for YOU

  1. If you HAVEN’T received these newsletters regularly every two months, this question is for YOU.

Did you enjoy THIS newsletter, and would you like to read future newsletters every two months?

Click here

Thanks for answering!


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

2 Responses to Active Whitehorse News – December 2020

  1. Peter Robinson says:

    I’ve experienced 30k zones in Sweden. When you’re an Aussie driver it’s a bit of a shock and it’s really hard to keep the speed down. But when you do you notice a new thing rarely experienced in Australia. The resentment over a cyclist or pedestrian who has to cross in front of you and now has the right of way completely goes away! You no longer have a sense of “momentum entitlement”.
    As a cyclist it’s the mental peace of safety you feel in those zones which can go on for miles there. Well maybe not Swedish (10k) miles but I’ve experienced a stretch of 4k in Umea. Those zones can go for a kilometre both sides of a school and are applied for more than the whole school day. The ones around residential and downtown streets are permanent.
    As a pedestrian it’s bliss. It’s a human zone again.


    • WATAG says:

      Thanks Peter for your comments.
      I’m lucky enough to have ridden. as a cycling tourist, in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia – in fact in about 16 different countries. Resentment by car drivers towards cyclists doesn’t exist there.
      We need more “human zones” here!
      I hope all those who read this will follow-up with their local Council to ask what they are doing about low speed “human zone” local streets.


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