Active Whitehorse News – January 2022

A word from our sponsor

Courtesy of Brussels Mobility

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Make best use of your Freedom for even more happiness.
Check this recent WATAG post.

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Sacrifices we make

Image credit: Voted best mobility meme for 2021

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Too old?

Image Credit and words from:

Did you know:
The 65 to 75 demographic in the Netherlands cycles more than any other adult age group.

So cycling isn’t just a young person’s game.

For older folk it’s more than a means of transport. It’s a means of participation in society.

  • Getting from A to B
  • enjoying the open air
  • being with friends
  • exercising for health

In Australia, the 50+ demographic is the LOWEST adult group.

Maybe it’s something to do with perceptions of safety and convenience for people in Australia?

Surely we can do better?

In a recent WATAG post we tell how Aad Verhoeff in the Netherlands thinks
“My bike is my liberator...”
See if he inspires you – even just a little bit.

Over to you State Government and Local Councils!

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One small step

Credit: Created by: for Transport Alternatives NYC

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it’s not complicated

Permission to use and created by Tom Flood:

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Is this the key to success?

In WATAG’s local area, Whitehorse City Council employs many very well qualified people to work on recommending, designing and implementing policies and infrastructure. Since we are very interested in Active Transport, we asked Melanie Burgess, one of the Council’s Active Transport Officers, to give us an overview of what her job entails. Here’s what Melanie submitted.

We went a little further and looked at Melanie’s public profile on Linked In to give a bit more background about her extensive and relevant background. Here’s a summary of what we found:

“Melanie graduated from Deakin University in 2005 with a Bachelor Health Science and Bachelor Arts, Health Promotion, and has had 15 years health promotion experience in community and government settings.

Her roles have included Health Promotions Officer at Canterbury Neighbourhood centre, Networking and Events Coordination for the Anxiety Disorder Association of Victoria and being Communications Officer at City of Boroondara for “Friends of Same” in Timor Leste. This was before she went to Manningham Council in 2010 and really developed an interest in road safety. Melanie was Road Safety Officer for a period and had a long stint as L2P Coordinator.”

For those who are not aware, the TAC L2P Program is a community-based volunteer program, assisting disadvantaged Victorian learner drivers aged 16 to 21 with no access to a supervising driver or vehicle to gain the 120 hours driving experience required to apply for a probationary licence.

WATAG believes that by building valuable and ongoing relationships with Whitehorse Officers like Melanie and her colleagues, that we can help put into practice many of the key Themes expressed in the Whitehorse 2040 Vision – particularly those relating to connection and engagement with the community

We recommend taking a few moments now to look at the Whitehorse 2040 Vision now. It was developed over several months by a citizen panel, independent of Council, and was formally adopted by the Council. Citizen engagement at its best!

We hope to give an insight into the roles and backgrounds of other Whitehorse Officers in future editions because we know the community sometimes thinks that they are not being well served. It’s easy to criticize! But armed with knowledge of who is working on our behalf, and being able to understand and work with them, we are sure that community expectations , and Council objectives will be more easily met.

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It’s easy to forget…

The lost liberty of the street. The ease and safety with which most people moved around the urban street has been not just lost but entirely forgotten in less than a century.

For the sake of our kids – if not for ourselves – can we please have our liberty back again and make cars the visitors rather than the predators on our local streets?

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… but Berliners remember

Image credit: S-Bahn Berlin

Volksentscheid Berlin Autofrei (People’s Decision for Auto-Free Berlin), has proposed a plan to limit cars within Berlin’s Ringbahn, a long circle route around the inner city, making it the world’s largest car-free area once approved. The citizen-initiative is aimed mostly at banning the use of private cars in central Berlin, with the exception of emergency vehicles, garbage trucks, taxis, delivery vehicles, and residents with limited mobility, who would all be given special access permits.

A recent article by Cities Forum on LinkedIn highlighted this development. Click here to read more.

The power of Citizen engagement to develop ideas to solve man-made problems is never ending.

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Summer reading

Two highly readable books. Both are available for loan from the Whitehorse Library.

Credit: Photo by editor of his copies of these books

Confessions of a Recovering Engineer shows you:

  • The values of the transportation professions, how they are applied in the design process, and how those priorities differ from those of the public.
  • How the standard approach to transportation ensures the maximum amount of traffic congestion possible is created each day, and how to fight that congestion on a budget.
  • Bottom-up techniques for spending less and getting higher returns on transportation projects, all while improving quality of life for residents.

Perfect for anyone interested in why transportation systems work – and fail to work – the way they do.
WATAG hopes that all our local Council Officers (and Councillors too) are interested in why our local streets are failing to meet the community need, and that they’ll borrow these books and get inspiration to make things better.

In Curbing Traffic: The Human Case for Fewer Cars in Our Lives, Melissa and Chris Bruntlett chronicle their experience living in the Netherlands and the benefits that result from treating cars as visitors rather than owners of the road. They weave their personal story with research and interviews with experts and Delft locals to help readers share the experience of living in a city designed for people.

This book is a superb reminder that, whilst the Netherlands is now regarded as quite different from Australia, and that we could not possibly implement the same ideas, it was not always so. Treating local streets as the domain of people in the community rather than cars is a relatively new, and hard-fought-for development. If you have doubts about whether this could work here…read this book!

If you live elsewhere, ask your local library to acquire these books too. Or be really old and buy them for yourself! They are popular books and easy to find online.

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Is there another way?

Credit: LinkedIn post

Sometimes we just need to look at a problem from another angle.
We are all familiar with the frustration of coming across infrastructure, or policy or service that was designed, installed and is managed by “professionals” who seem to have no idea how the people who use the facility or service would actually like it to work.

Photo source unknown

Think of the informal paths that develop where the planners had something else in mind. We call them “desire lines” for a reason.

It’s amazing how, despite “progress”, things often still stay the same – especially when it comes to doing things unthinkingly because perhaps “it’s always been done that way”, or it’s “usual practice”, or it “makes it standard” (Please take the time to look at the excellent video clip below!).

The same logic can apply to those of us in the advocacy realm. Too often we are a bit bedazzled by our own perceptions without taking the time to look at matters from the perspective of others in the community, or those in public office who have to balance many competing interests.

Often there IS another way and we just haven’t opened our minds to see it, or taken the time to look it things from a different angle.

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Have you heard the standard response?

Credit: StrongTowns.

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A nifty short clip from 2010. You will LOVE it. Has much changed since?
We featured this in our newsletter three years ago.
Also a very relevant follow-on article – Some Thoughts on Infrastructure.
It’s worth a look back.

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Back to the ’50s for progress

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An interesting historical video. It was the British, not the Chinese, who led the world back then. It’s ironic that they exported them all round the world and let the car dominate the roads in the UK

What’s the situation now?

Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of bicycles during 2020.

  1. China: US$3.7 billion (38.3% of total exported bicycles)
  2. Taiwan: $1.1 billion (11.7%)
  3. Netherlands: $849.7 million (8.8%)
  4. Germany: $759.3 million (7.9%)
  5. Cambodia: $529.7 million (5.5%)
  6. Portugal: $281 million (2.9%)
  7. Italy: $259.8 million (2.7%)
  8. France: $164.4 million (1.7%)
  9. Poland: $157.6 million (1.6%)
  10. Spain: $147 million (1.5%)
  11. United Kingdom: $135.1 million (1.4%)
  12. Bulgaria: $121.8 million (1.3%)
  13. Indonesia: $119.7 million (1.2%)
  14. Romania: $114.1 million (1.2%)
  15. Czech Republic: $113.6 million (1.2%)

By value, the listed 15 countries shipped 88.9% of global bicycles exported in 2020.

Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing bicycles exporters since 2019 were: Indonesia (up 33.7%), Cambodia (up 28.2%), China (up 28.1%) and France (up 23.6%).

It’s interesting to note that Netherlands (population 17.44 million in 2020) benefits so much from it’s bicycle exports as well as from it’s local adoption of the bike as a ‘normal’ means of transport.

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Its child’s play

Successful cities are cities where children of
all ages are active and visible in the public
realm. The amount of time children spend
playing outdoors, their ability to get around
and their level of contact with
nature are strong indicators of how successfully
a city is performing, not just for children but for

This excellent resource should be widely used by State and Local Authorities. If you are part of a local Council, download it now.

If you are simply interested in children’s development and welfare – particularly in our cities – have a read and form a local group and make a Play Street in your area. Full resource kit (local to Australia) can be downloaded here to show you how.

We asked the question: Is 30km/h practical? in our last Newsletter and noted that a key UN resolution in August 2020 is that countries should:
“Focus on speed management, including the strengthening of law enforcement to prevent speeding and mandate a maximum road travel speed of 30 km/h in areas where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix in a frequent and planned manner …”
One thing is for sure – unless we follow the UN’s guidance for Safe Streets with a 30km/hr limit in local streets, we will continue to endanger our children.

Older Australians would also benefit. See what 92-year-old Aad Verhoeff from Schipluide, Netherlands thinks. Read here.

It would be a great start towards “Safe Streets” for ALL Australians if our State and Local authorities took notice of the UN Resolution.

Here are some great local examples to whet your appetite. And check out Play Streets Australia here,

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Victoria’s DoT Safe System fails

WATAG tries to be positive. We like to encourage Councils and Government authorities to keep implementing policies and infrastructure in a way that will truly bring about Safe Streets We are sure that this will lead to far greater use of Active Transport as the norm. This has been shown to be the case all round the world. Often we’d like to throw a few brick-bats, but usually we resist the temptation.

BUT the Victorian Government Department of Transport (DoT) released (December 2021) an update to:

This release can only be marked as a BIG FAILURE. Our friends at Streets Alive Yarra have analysed and documented this very comprehensively: State government fails on Safe System

WATAG covered this subject in detail in our April 2021Newsletter.

Photo credit: Cr Prue Cutts

The principal problem is that the new Policy still specifies that only the following numerical speed limits may be applied in Victoria;
10 km/h, 20 km/h, 40 km/h, 50km/h, 60 km/h, 80 km/h, 100 km/h and 110 km/h.
This means that 30km/hr is still not an allowable speed in Victoria unless a long and tortuous process is followed by a Council claiming exceptional circumstances.

As an example of that tortuous process:
In August Active Transport News 2021 we wrote about Glenburnie Rd in Mitcham and how an application had been made early 2020 to have a short section of the road designated as 30km/hr. Cr Prue Cutts reported on her Facebook page on 20 Dec 2021 that the 30km/hr signs had been installed. That’s nearly 2 years later!

  • Cities and countries all round the world have implemented, or are in the process of implementing, 30km/hr as the normal speed for local streets.
  • As noted in November Active Transport News 2021, the Stockholm Declaration by around 130 nations in February 2020 declared that 30km/hr was desirable for virtually all local streets in urban areas. The UN General Assembly endorsed this later in 2020.

Yet here in Victoria in December 2021, we find that an updated version of Policy in 2021 still does not allow 30km/hr.


It’s no joke – just Irish logic

A new road safety strategy from the Department of Transport in Ireland is seeking to cut the number of deaths on Irish roads by 50% over the next ten years by introducing new safety measures.

Within the strategy, there are plans to establish a new working group on the setting of speed limits, with a specific consideration for the introduction of a 30km/h default speed limit in urban areas.

So this is no Irish joke!

We must adjust our attitudes and behaviours to take account of the fact that no one form of transport takes primacy over another. Each and every road user is entitled to use our roads and not have their safety or life put at risk due to others’ dangerous behaviour.

“This strategy prioritises the safety of those who are most vulnerable, ensuring their right to travel the roads safely is protected.”

More information here

But in case you are disappointed …perhaps these are “Irish type jokes” you can have a chuckle about.


“Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.”

Mark Twain

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Melbourne bike paths – a blessing or a curse?

A couple of years ago a relative from Netherlands visited us to spend three weeks touring Victoria and Melbourne by bike. Gerda had been to Australia many times but she never used a bike to get around.  In Holland a bicycle is her main means of transport. She was in fact a much sought-after bike touring leader for a major Dutch company offering bike tours all over Europe for tourists.  She had privately guided us through several extended tours in Germany, Austria and Holland in the past and now it was time to return the favour.

Photo credit: Chris Trueman – Gerda enjoying the Great Victorian Rail Trail

For city riding, we used our home in the suburbs as if it was an overnight stay in a hotel, and set out early each day in a different direction to ride 50-60 km. Sometimes we caught a train to start in a more distant suburb. We did the same for the country rides and stayed at BnB’s.

Gerda was surprised and amazed at the extensive network of off-road paths – in the city mainly along our creek and river valleys, and in the country along reclaimed rail trails.  She found the scenery and Australian bush to be beautiful, and that sometimes this was very close to the CBD.

We certainly are blessed when it comes to enjoying the benefits of off-road shared paths.

BUT….read more here!!

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?

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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.

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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.

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?

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Thanks for answering!

Your view

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

5 Responses to Active Whitehorse News – January 2022

  1. Peter Robinson says:

    I did a great deal of travel with Australia in the ’70’s and ’80’s driving and staying in country towns. Back then the one memory standing out was how many older people were using bikes to get about. We know why that ended though and cycling became the preserve of a narrow, sporting, demographic. There have been many references to it. It’s a pity that what should have been a health and safety advisory about protective headwear was ever made into a hard and fast law, enforced with fines. If our authorities could see the way clear to return the wearing of safety headwear to an advisory position only we might see a change towards broadening that cycling demographic back to where it was.


    • Teacher Ria says:

      May I disagree?
      My brother only had ONE fall. 60 years ago he was rushed in a four-hour journey to Melbourne where they operated on his head injury. He lost part of the brain. He is an old man now, but he has NEVER been able to process language again. Now as an old man, he is so frustrated that people do not understand the garbled noises that is his speech.
      There weren’t helmets in those days.
      Arms and legs will heal, but a severely injured brain cannot be healed.
      PLEASE, wear your helmet.

      Liked by 1 person

      • roopaddock says:

        Thankyou for your advice. I will consider it but I am in a truck right now reading about motoring helmets and wondering if I should get one. There are more head injuries from motor accidents than anything else and motoring helmets were first advertised nearly 40 years ago. We really need to push this idea. When bike helmet law was first mooted in 1987 the Victoria police said the didn’t want it. They wanted a motorist helmet law.


    • WATAG says:

      Thanks Peter for taking the time to give your thoughts.
      The subject of compulsory helmet wearing is contentious and causes a lot of time and energy to be spent on supporting helmets or damning them.
      Because of the widespread academic research showing that helmets save lives and ongoing serious injury problems, WATAG supports the compulsory wearing of helmets in Australia until the road conditions and driver attitudes can be modified to more closely match those applicable in The Netherlands where most people cycle and helmets are not compulsory.
      Whilst we welcome alternative views and reasoned discussion, and have published yours, we don’t want this website be used to generate ongoing arguments which can tend to become a little irrational sometimes. There are a lot of other social media opportunities for those who wish to do that.
      Instead, we’d rather spend our time and energy on trying to bring about the road condition and driver attitude changes than having an ongoing argument. We believe very strongly that the main disincentive to people riding more (and using their local streets more for walking and kid’s play) is the actual (and perceived) danger that cars present. If more people here in Australia got as upset about Councils and Government not mandating 30km/hr local streets as they do about mandating of helmets that would be a very positive thing.
      For those who think the mandating of helmets is more about it being an affront to their personal freedom and who have an objection to the Nanny State approach, this little video clip says a lot:

      Liked by 1 person

  2. james young says:

    unless there is a medical problem wear a helmet when cycling

    Liked by 1 person

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