WATAG Welcomes you to 2019
And here’s a great New Year’s Resolution you can make
Become a WATAG Member. An Annual membership of $10 or less helps support us, and most importantly your membership will increase our relevance when we reach out to the local authorities and the community.
Visit the WATAG Membership page and sign up today.
Here’s the highlights in this edition:
- The standard response
- Some Thoughts on Infrastructure
- Why is it Unsafe to be a Pedestrian
- A Walking and Cycling Mecca?
- Wombat crossings
- North East Link Update
- And more…
Have you heard the standard response?
A nifty short clip from 2010. You will LOVE it. Has much changed since?
Thanks to Strong Towns for sharing it again. Check out their website and subscribe if you like the idea of towns which have a strong community input and influence.
Some Thoughts on Infrastructure
1. Who is it for?
2. Lessons learnt from Melbourne’s sky rail
[Late 21018] rail services returned to normal between Caulfield and Dandenong in Melbourne’s established south-eastern suburbs. All three sections of the controversial elevated rail are complete, including five new stations and their public plaza and parkland spaces. It is the most complex and extensive of the Level Crossing Removal Project works to date, with many firsts being tested in this new form of integrated Melbourne infrastructure. But with the works completed, ongoing responsibilities for these growing landscapes now needs attention.
Over a year ago, Foreground reported on the ambitions of the project, the consultation processes and promising possibilities for community facilities – the result of the elevated rail line freeing up 22.5 hectares of open space below it to create a 17-kilometre linear park. The three sections of elevated line remove nine level crossings.
The one portion of sunken rail occurs at Springvale station where Springvale Road already passed over the line. To experience this dull shotcrete canyon is, even briefly, to appreciate just how much better the elevated rail experience, with its expansive and varied views, is for commuters compared to the trench alternative.
And it’s not just motorists that benefit, as Daniel Bowen, spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA), reminds us. Road users include cyclists, pedestrians and bus passengers. Bowen, for one, is broadly supportive of the new rail line. He is especially pleased to see better interchanges between travel modes. As he points out, bus stops have been moved nearer to the station entrances, improving connections and bicycle access into the stations via shared paths has also been improved. But one of the great promises of elevated rail proponents, held up especially in the face of charges that it would bring urban blight, was that it would offer more than just better transport solutions.
Photos by Peter Bennetts Photography
Elevated rail as a value-multiplier
From some perspectives, including those of early commentators, the transport rationale is only one aspect of improvement. Other major gains come with the significant new open space and public facilities enabled by elevated rail, especially in the established urban areas serviced by the new rail, which had limited existing parkland, and yet face increasing densification and residential infill. This is the view of landscape architects at Aspect Studios who were part of the alliance delivering the project. As director Kirsten Bauer acknowledges [full disclosure: Bauer is a a member of Foreground’s editorial advisory board], state government was concerned from the beginning that there should be a good urban design outcome. As she says, “it wasn’t just that elevation might be quicker and cheaper, but about what other positive benefits it might enable for the communities that surround it….
… Increasing traffic needs better transport flows, but increasing density needs more green space. Elevated rail can deliver both. There is the potential to create an unprecedented number of new public parks and landscapes across Melbourne, in places where they are most needed.
Read the full article here.
3. If it’s not OK to walk it, why is it OK to cycle it?
A simple but shocking image showing how infrastructure purportedly provided for the benefit of cyclists, expects them to ride in situations they feel are dangerous.
“If you wouldn’t walk on it”, asks @Perthbiker in reference to East Parade, East Perth, “why expect people to ride on it?” The pedestrian in the exhibit is photoshopped, but @Perthbiker’s given us a powerful illustration of how inured city managers are to the risks associated with mixing bicycles with fast-moving cars and trucks.
The image shows up the gross inadequacy of much of what passes in Australian cities as safe cycling infrastructure. That sort of design solution is box-ticking at its ugliest. It’s what happens when the key objective is to be seen to do something – anything – without regard to whether or not it achieves the claimed objective of providing cyclists with an option they feel is safe. It’s the design equivalent of greenwashing.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an extreme case. There are plenty of examples of bicycle lanes shoe-horned between traffic lanes in potentially dangerous situations. Here’s one in Clifton Hill, Melbourne, that I negotiated with trepidation every week night for years. Here’s one at St kilda Junction, Melbourne. Then there are the numerous examples of bike lanes disappearing or rendered inoperative by cars having permission to park on them.
I don’t know if the evidence shows cycling casualties are higher in these suspect designs. I suspect they’re not because all but the most skilled cyclists avoid them; the rest are repelled by the extremely low level of psychological safety. I can imagine the average prospective cyclist saying: “you must be kidding if you think that’s good enough to get me cycling”. The next cohort of potential riders waiting in the wings wouldn’t countenance driving a car without seatbelts, air bags, and a panoply of active safety technology, so of course they’re going to be repulsed by a lot of what gets passed off as safe cycling infrastructure.
The warrant for increasing the share of travel in Australian cities made by bicycle is strong and well-established. Yet it’s shocking that so much infrastructure purportedly provided for the benefit of cyclists, expects them to ride in situations they feel are dangerous. Hopefully the power of @Perthbiker’s image will get some action.
WATAG completely agrees with Alan Davies. Everyone agrees that there is about 60% of the community who are interested in riding, but are so concerned with safety that they are reluctant to try. This includes parents, children and older folk. Giving the impression of safety with a ill-placed signs, white lines and green paint is not the way to help overcome their fears.
Ticking boxes and “greenwashing” to give the impression of safety will not actually impress them!
4. Maximise opportunities when they arise
A Shared User Path from Hawthorn to Box Hill has been advocated many for decades. An indicative route is shown below. Refer to MeBug Inc website for interesting background information and reports.
In addition to the 50 level crossing removals already completed or planned, the Victorian Government is planning to remove another 25 by 2025.
Crossings removals are planned at Mont Albert and Surrey Hills. WATAG thinks it is vital that the needs of walkers, bike riders and the less able are given as much priority as will be given to ensuring that cars are fully advantaged by these works.
Many WATAG articles point to the need for the community to be fully connected so that everyone can conveniently use integrated Public and Active Transport and minimise their need to use a car.
The above two projects provide an ideal opportunity to not simply replace current connectivity, but to radically improve it at these locations.
An additional bonus will be that the long-proposed Shared Path from Hawthorn to Box Hill will move a step closer to realisation.
Why is it so unsafe to be a pedestrian?
Rising pedestrian deaths spark call for reduced speed limits
The ABC 7:30 Report, 31st January highlighted some insights. It includes a transcript.
A partial transcript of some comments by people interviewed is shown below. Of particular interest is the attitude expressed by the NRMA – a particularly influential car lobby.
TRACY BOWDEN: Last year the total road was down slightly at 1,146 nationally but the number of pedestrians killed by vehicles went up with 176 recorded deaths.
Now pedestrians account for more than 15 per cent of all road fatalities.
[To Prof. Jake Olivier] So what was your study looking at?
PROF. JAKE OLIVIER, STATISTICIAN, UNSW: So looking at impact, speed and pedestrian fatality and trying to get a sense about whether speed limits that are currently used are acceptable.
TRACY BOWDEN: Statistician, Professor Jake Olivier has reviewed global studies on pedestrian death, focusing on the role of speed.
What do the studies tell us about the relationship between speed and fatality?
JAKE OLIVIER: So at 30 kilometres an hour impact speed, the probability of fatality is 6 per cent. At 40 kilometres an hour, it’s 15 per cent and 50 kilometres an hour it’s above 40 per cent for probability of fatality.
TRACY BOWDEN: University of New South Wales researchers have a radical proposal.
JAKE OLIVIER: If we are very serious about road safety in Australia, and we want to get fatalities and serious injuries down to zero, we should be thinking about lowering speed limits.
We’d like the speed limits in areas where there are a lot of pedestrians to be much lower than they are now maybe 30 kilometres an hour. At a minimum, 40 kilometres an hour.
PETER KHOURY, NRMA: All too often what we see is the speed limit is cut, the speed cameras follow, then comes the fine, then comes the community frustration.
TRACY BOWDEN: Australia’s largest motoring group is opposed to the idea according to the NRMA’s Peter Khoury.
PETER KHOURY: We have to balance risk reduction at all costs, and making sure that we have sensible policies that keep the city moving at the pace that is safe but also enables people to get to where they’re going.
Pedestrian bridges, islands in the middle of busy highways – there is a raft of things that we can do to help keep pedestrians safe. [Check out the article above about ticking boxes and “greenwashing” to give the impression of safety.]
Keep the city moving! Let’s not use a known solution to the pedestrian death problem, it might delay a car journey by a few seconds.
Is it any wonder the interests of the non-car Active Transport community are not being heard clearly enough and acted on?
A walking & cycling Mecca?
Australian cities are far from being meccas for walking and cycling
Extracts from The Conversation, February 5, 2018 5.06am AEDT
By Dorina Pojani, Elizabeth Butterworth, Jim Cooper, Jonathan Corcoran, Neil Sipe, The University of Queensland
Australian city planners are seeking ways to make cities better for walking and cycling.
In developing countries, active transport is key to improving accessibility for the urban poor. In developed countries, the walkable and cyclable city can be a magnet for attracting and retaining the “creative class”.
In Australia, plans and projects are being developed to extend pedestrian malls and cycling paths, restrict car traffic, remove street parking and install more lighting.
Have these efforts paid off?
Check out the full article here.
They can reduce pedestrian casualties by 63 per cent, says study,
Wide, flat and elevated pedestrian crossings – wombat crossings – cut road deaths and serious injuries by as much as 63 per cent on urban roads, new research has found.
Similar platforms used mid-block and at intersections halved the casualty rate, found the review of 50 elevated crossings published May 2017 in the Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety.
The traffic calming devices didn’t always slow traffic to the pace of a dawdling wombat, but researchers estimated most drivers slowed by 5km/h to 8km/h.
Every 1km/h increase in speed above 40km/h increases the likelihood of a pedestrian being injured by 4 to 5 per cent, says the World Health Organisation. A pedestrian has a less than 50 per cent chance of surviving an impact with a car travelling at 45km/h, and virtually no chance of surviving a crash with a car going 80km/h.
Road safety experts are monitoring the results of the first trial of an elevated platform on a Victorian arterial highway that carries 20,000 cars a day.
The platform is at the dangerous intersection of Surf Coast Highway and Kidman Avenue, which, over four years, has been the site of three serious injuries, six casualty crashes, four crashes involving right-turning traffic being struck by through traffic and four moderate-injury crashes.
It was designed to slow traffic to 50km/h before a new set of traffic lights, and early results suggested it did so.
The investment could save money over time. Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission estimated the lifetime cost of a severe acquired brain injury claim was $2,253,000 in 2015, while the average estimated lifetime cost of a quadriplegia claim was $2,634,600.
The new research says results varied according to the height and length of platform, the type of road and its function. They studied 50 sites in NSW, Queensland and Victoria, where traffic ranged from 2000 to 10,000 cars a day.
“The reductions in casualties supported the need for more on-road trials, which could be used to support the widespread use of raised platforms to reduce deaths on Australian roads,” the review concluded.
“Although we know that they are used extensively on arterial roads in Europe, the approach of using them on arterial roads is quite new here.”
The sites were similar to a new wombat crossing outside Turramurra North Public School in Sydney’s north shore, installed in April to slow down the 10,000 cars a day that race past students to the local hospital, high school and nearby national park.
Many exceed the 50km/h limit, said Maddie Hayes, 21, who works and lives locally.
“It’s still quite shocking, people don’t stop for it,” she said of an older and lower elevated crossing. But the higher and more obvious crossing near the school seemed more effective at slowing traffic, she said.
A spokesperson for the council said it had installed three wombat crossings, near schools and one at Gordon rail station. The spokesperson said they slowed traffic and made children more visible, and children were more likely to cross at the wombat.
By Julie Power – Sydney Morning Herald, 17 May 2017
A North East Link update
With the re-election of the Labor Government in Victoria, the North East Link (NEL) is now a certainty.
As noted in our last Newsletter, the NEL Community Technical Discussion Group (CTDG) – walking & cycling which had strong WATAG representation, has had a big impact on the likely outcomes for walkers and cyclists.
Whilst the NEL Reference Design did not include many of the very important recommendations made by the CTDG, NELA has encouraged the committee to prepare a very comprehensive report aimed at the project bidders. The report will highlight to the bidders that for maximum acceptance by the community and the Government, the CTDG recommendation should be strongly considered.
We are hopeful that competition between bidders will lead to a very good uptake of these recommendations.
Can we do it?
We will increase the number, frequency and diversity of Victorians cycling
for transport by:
• investing in a safer, lower-stress, better-connected network, prioritising
strategic cycling corridors
• making cycling a more inclusive experience.
About 60 percent of Victorians are curious about cycling and like to ride,
but they don’t cycle, or cycle less, because they want a safer, lower-stress,
better-connected network and a more inclusive cycling culture. If we had such
a network and culture, four in 10 Victorians say they would be encouraged to
cycle, or cycle more often, to destinations close to where they live. They would be
attracted by the comfort and safety of the cycling experience, the predictability
of the journey time and the low cost.
More people cycling will reduce congestion on public transport and take motor
vehicles off the road. This will provide economic and environmental benefits
for individuals and the community.
Cycling for transport
That’s commuter trips such as from home to a place of work or education,
(commonly trips up to 45 minutes) and local trips such as to the station, shops,
or schools (mostly short trips to meet everyday needs).
This strategy sets out the strategic basis for Victorian Government funding
commitments to develop a safer, lower-stress, better-connected network
and prioritising strategic cycling corridors.
A majority of Victorians have real and perceived safety concerns that put them
off cycling. We will improve safety using a Safe System approach to better
separate pedestrians, bicycles and motor vehicles, reducing the need for cyclists
to mix with other road users. This will reduce the risk of serious injury and death
We will provide a lower-stress cycling experience by taking a whole-of-route
approach to reducing traffic stress and ensuring it fits into an integrated network
and delivers our goal of creating a lower-stress cycling network.
Who actually said all this?
Its all there in The Victorian Cycling Strategy 2018-28. Its worth reading. More importantly, its worth working very hard to keep them to their word!
WATAG is trying to make a difference in this regard.
Will YOU help too?
Becoming a WATAG Member is a great way of helping.
Visit the WATAG Membership page and sign up today.
The Christmas season is over… but the safety myths remain
Another great contribution from Strong Towns – The Twelve Days of Safety Myths.
And more resolutions for the New Year…
Around this time of year, you’re likely putting the finishing touches on the usual list of New Year’s resolutions you’ve decided to dust off again. Losing weight, less procrastinating, quitting smoking (or vaping)–you know, the standards. While you’re deciding, what if you also gave some serious consideration to one of the most important relationships in your life–the relationship you have with the city you live in?
Here are 25 ways that your choices can translate into better cities. Share them, and your own, (using https://twitter.com/BrentToderian#ResolutionsForMyCity on Twitter)
1. Vote in municipal elections. Too many of us don’t vote at the government level that most affects our actual lives on a daily basis.
2. Speak at City Hall in support of something good for your community and city, rather than just going to oppose things. And before you oppose something (such as well-designed density, new housing choices, or affordable housing), think carefully about who it’s meant to help, and put yourself in their place.
3. Choose different ways to get around your city. Walk, bike, skateboard, scooter, take public transit, as many times a week as you can. Focus especially on those short trips–for example, buy a shopping trolley and walk to the grocery store if possible. Lobby your leaders for improvements to support more choices, like better infrastructure and slower speed limits.
4. If you’ve never ridden a bike for transportation (as opposed to recreation)–and especially if you oppose safe bike lanes–spend a week riding a bike to work and other places you’d normally drive to. On one of those days, take your kids with you. Think about how you felt on every part of the trip.
5. Walk, bike, or use transit to take your kids to school, and teach them to do so on their own as soon as they’re able. Its safer, healthier, and developmentally better for them, and everyone else, than it is to drive them. …
Click here for the other 20!
Article by Brent Toderian published by Fast Company 2