Active Whitehorse News – June 2021

Budget time

We’ve had the Federal Budget, and the State Budget.
Now its time for your local Council Budget.
How important is this? Is it equitable? Can you have an effect on it?
Does your local Council have much effect on your life – more than having the rubbish collected each week and keeping the public parks and gardens mown and accessible?

Of course it does – And its budget reflects your Council’s values.

President Joe Biden quote on “show me your budget”

What are YOUR Council’s values?

Read what our friends at Streets Alive Yarra think are the choices that should be made for active transport & local area place making

Infrastructure for active transport and local area place making includes:

Are your streets for everyone?
Does your Council’s budget reflect the overwhelming support within the community for safer, low traffic network of streets?

Then check out Where money should be spent and How much should be spent.

See Whitehorse proposed budget 2020-21 below.

Good Vision

A personal reflection by the Editor

Everyone has heard of 20/20 vision as a way of saying vision is good.
Do you have 20/20 vision?
Would you like to have 2040 Vision?

These interesting questions have collided for me recently. My vision needed help, and that has led to cataract removal surgery with a prudent gap of a couple of weeks between the operations on each eye.

Image Credit; Whitehorse Council

During the same period (and a bit before) I’ve also been thinking about a Vision for the City of Whitehorse in 2040. Earlier in the year I was selected to be a community representative on a Deliberative Engagement Panel to write the VISION 2040 for Whitehorse.

Yes that’s correct…to actually write the Vision and pass it to Council for adoption. A new Local Government Act last year mandated that all Councils must use this deliberative engagement process to develop their Vision.

The Panel of 50 members were selected on the basis of age, gender, location and other criteria to try and replicate the demographics of the whole community in Whitehorse. Meeting the other Panel members at day-long consultations and detailed discussions over many weeks, all involved agreed that the consultants did a very good job of selecting a representative group.

At the time of writing this article, the Draft 2040 Vision is on the Agenda for Council to consider on May 17th. and it is expected to pass without amendment. (Editor’s note: It passed unanimously!) It’s a concise statement about what the community expects from Council. Some will say it’s simply a ‘motherhood statement’ that no-one can disagree with. However it also nominates some key priority areas that must be addressed for the Vision to be achieved.

Some themes evolved which strongly resonated with the whole Panel. The words safety, environment, sustainability, climate action, open space and parks, tree canopy, safe streets for kids to play in, fewer cars, community connections cropped up many times when talking about health (mental and physical) and well-being. Interculturalism and embracing diversity, social inclusiveness, and recognition of indigenous values about the land we occupy, were also important discussion points.

There was universal support for Council to collaborate with the community using citizen engagement from the earliest genesis of ideas for change.

One Panel colleague said:

“A Whitehorse vision is noble, but is only nice words unless progress towards its achievement is undertaken. Accordingly, in every year between 2021 and 2040, the Whitehorse Council measures (using a proper sample of its residents and workers in the City) how they think Whitehorse is, in terms of its vision, in the year. Then, over the 19 years, we can all see how effectively citizens see the Whitehorse Council has been in working to achieve its vision. After all, if you don’t measure it, you can’t see whether there has been any change. And only by seeing measured results, can the Whitehorse Council determine what (more or any) action it needs to take to achieve its vision.”

In London, the Islington Council wanted to make St Peter’s Streets more ‘people friendly’. They introduced measures to be trialed over 18 months.   You can read about the details here.
It was interesting to read some of the comments posted when the changes were first introduced – a divergent set of views. Some loved the changes and many hated them because they were a bit inconvenient for them personally.
Importantly, Islington Council kept track of progress and provided a monitoring report after 6 months, You can read it here.
This very positive 6 month report about how the changes have affected the area shows that Councils must lead, seriously try things out, and give them time to “settle in”.

All the above leads me reflect on the excellent aim of achieving ’20 minute neighbourhoods’ – a concept that helps to meet many of the themes noted as important for the Whitehorse 2040 Vision.  We featured this in our Newsletter a year ago where the question is asked:  

“People love the idea of 20-minute neighbourhoods. So why isn’t it top of the agenda?”

In fact Plan Melbourne 2017–2050 –  the Victorian Government’s long-term plan to ensure Melbourne remains liveable, sustainable and accessible to people of all ages and abilities – is guided by the principle of 20-minute neighbourhoods, liveable places where people can access most of their daily needs locally without needing a car.

So it’s great to see that under the Theme 2 ‘Movement and Public Spaces’ for Vision 2040 for Whitheorse, Key Priority 2.1 says:

Create low-traffic neighbourhoods where people can move safely. We should aim to create 20-minute neighbourhoods

I think that extensive community engagement is the best way to get good outcomes.
However when the engagement is simply in the form of comment asked for about some proposed change there can be a problem. The initial reaction to a person’s perceived loss of some personal amenity is often not balanced by their appreciation of a balancing positive change to amenity that affects the whole community.

On track to be trackless?

We’ve featured Trackless Trams before in our March/April 2020 Newsletter. In a News Post in August 2018 we advocated for one to be used for a Monash rail link.

We won’t claim the credit, but it has recently been reported in the Herald Sun that a trackless tram proposal that has been developed by Monash University and Chadstone Shopping Centre (Vicinity Centre)… for a Trackless Tram to be used for a Monash rail link!

An artist impression of a trackless tram. – Ben Vivekanandan LinkedInPost

Ben Vivekanandan – Director, Precincts and Government, Monash University said in a LinkedIn post:
“This cost-effective transport solution will help streamline the commute for thousands of people each day along the busy corridor between Caulfield and Rowville.”

Let’s hope our wish from nearly 3 years ago finally comes true. But we are not holding our breath!

Looking back and forward too

Here is another brilliant example of the work of Jan Kamenski.
It’s work like this that shows people how transformative good urban design can be.
Marco Te Brömmelstroet, Professor in Urban Mobility Futures at University of Amsterdam says:
“What if the car-dependent era is just a short & failed experiment in the larger scheme of things?”

Holstenstrasse, Hamburg Visualised by Jan Kamenski

Road to Zero

A message from NZ for transport planners and engineers

Credit: Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

And the message for the rest of us is to keep communicating with and advocating to YOUR local, state and national governments to provide the leadership and infrastructure to make this a reality in your area.
We ALL need to be on the road to zero.

Walk or drive? Why it matters

And how experts predict WHY it matters.

Image credit: RMIT website

The clever researchers at RMIT and the Victorian Department of Transport have developed a new digital “tool” to show the expected health impacts of replacing car trips with walking and cycling trips for Melburnians.

Sounds complicated? It’s actually quite simple and very informative!

It’s called the Transport Health Assessment Tool for Melbourne and like all good internet tools it has an acronym – THAT-Melbourne.

THAT-Melbourne calculates, and with easy to read graphs, shows the health benefits that come from swapping car trips to walking, cycling or a combination of both. Whilst it’s very useful for government, policymakers, it is also a great way for urban dwellers to better understand the health implications of transport decision-making.

Developed by RMIT researchers from the Australian Urban Observatory, THAT-Melbourne is freely available to the public. Simply click here.

Project lead, Dr Lucy Gunn from the RMIT Centre for Urban Research, said THAT-Melbourne addressed a large gap in knowledge that could hopefully lead to better transport planning and investment. 

“We know physical inactivity increases the risk of early death and chronic disease, yet less than half the Australian adult population meet recommended levels of physical activity,” she said.

“One way of increasing physical activity is to walk and cycle and to do this for short trips, which are often undertaken by car.”

“The health benefits of doing this are often overlooked in strategic transport planning because they are challenging to estimate, and our tool fills this gap.”

Read the full article: Walk or drive? New tool shows the health effects of your travel choices,

Who needs a car anyway?

Photo credit:

Saving lives beyond 2020

Recommendations of the Academic Expert Group for the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety. Commissioned by the Swedish Transport Administration October 2019.

The more academic ones amongst you might like to read through much of this comprehensive document. Simply use your mouse to scroll through it.
But it’s interesting for all to scroll to page 7 and read a summary of the nine recommendations.

Significantly, it led to the Stockholm Declaration at the Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety: Achieving Global Goals 2030 held in Stockholm, 19–20 February 2020 which in turn was endorsed by a Resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on 31 August 2020.

You can see that apart from the Covid-19 pandemic, some significant things happened in 2020!

If you scroll to Recommendation #8 Page 56 of the Academic Expert Group’s document, you will see that it recommends “… a maximum road travel speed limit of 30 km/h be mandated in urban areas…”.

Happily, this recommendation is being adopted by more and more cities around the world as noted in an article More about 30km/h in our last newsletter. It’s worth revisiting this article now. Click image on the right.

Whitehorse proposed budget 2020-21

The above graphs tell a sad story. In a year where people showed clearly they wanted more opportunities to enjoy their local neighbourhoods in an informal way – where parks and paths actually became congested – the budget allocation to assist with this has actually decreased as a % of total expenditure on all sport & outdoor recreation.

Projections into the future do not offer optimism either. The proposed budget for Footpaths and Cycleways for this and the next three years are show as:

  • Year ended 30 June 2022 – $4.428 Million
  • Year ended 30 June 2023 – $3.651 Million
  • Year ended 30 June 2024 – $4.509 Million
  • Year ended 30 June 2025 – $5.512 Million

What WATAG would like Council to consider:

  • The Vision 2040 Panel expressed STRONG community desire for Council to: “Create low-traffic neighbourhoods where people can move safely. We should aim to create 20-minute neighbourhoods“. This means valuing the needs of people over cars and, as Joe Biden advocates, showing that in the budgets.
  • Read what our friends at Streets Alive Yarra think are the choices that should be made.
    Then check out Where money should be spent and How much should be spent… and applying this kind of thinking to Whitehorse.
  • We welcome the increased budget allocation for next year, compared to the current year, for Easy Ride Routes, but note that only a small proportion of this year’s budget will be actually  spent. We encourage Council to apply the funds for next year to sharrow-mark many routes rather than provide just a very few routes with the full suite of other non-urgent infrastructure changes. The Easy Ride Route network was agreed to by Council five years ago, and needs urgent action to show the public that Council is firmly behind the need for a complete network not just a few routes.
  • We welcome the inclusion of $200,000 for the Box Hill Integrated Transport Strategy Implementation. Unfortunately no details have been provided to enable the public to know how these funds will be used. WATAG made a strong contribution to the strategy development and is pleased a start is being made on its implementation.

Your perfect neighbourhood

Courtesy Transport for Greater Manchester

A metre matters more…now!

Image credit: TAC

Victoria has introduced a new rule to keep cyclists safe. As of 26 April 2021, it will be law for motorists to give people riding bicycles a wider passing space than they have been used to. Now it is mandated that passing distance is at least:

  • one metre clearance when overtaking on roads with speed limits up to 60km/h
  • 1.5 metres on roads with speed limits above 60km/h

50 Reasons

… why everyone should want more walkable streets

[Photo: Baerbel Schmidt/Getty Images; App Photo: Apple music label (The Beatles, Abbey Road, 1969)]

From making you live longer to making cities more resilient: If you want a reason to make your city more walkable, this article from FastCompany tells it all. It quotes a report from Arup – “Cities Alive – Towards a walking world” and gives 50 top reasons why walking is so good. The report sifted through dozens of studies to quantify 50 benefits of walkability in cities. Here’s the top 5 listed in the report:

1. It helps people live longer
Inactivity is the fourth leading cause of mortality around the world; physical activity dropped 32% in the last four decades in the U.S., and 45% in less than two decades in China. For people over 60, walking just 15 minutes a day can reduce the risk of dying by 22%.

2. It helps people lose weight
A 30-minute walk can burn 100 calories; for every 12 blocks or so walked a day, your risk of obesity drops 4.8%.

3. It reduces the risk of chronic disease
Regular walking may reduce the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer. Inactivity is a primary cause of most chronic diseases.

4. It makes people happier
Someone with a one-hour commute in a car needs to earn 40% more to be as happy as someone with a short walk to work. On the other hand, researchers found that if someone shifts from a long commute to a walk, their happiness increases as much as if they’d fallen in love. People who walk 8.6 minutes a day are 33% more likely to report better mental health.

5. It improves traffic safety
More than 270,000 pedestrians are killed around the world every year; better street design, and policies that reduce speed, can obviously help reduce the risk of crashes. Just shortening a long crosswalk can reduce the risk of pedestrian deaths 6%.

Check out the full article here and read the other 45 reasons!


how to get cycling on the agenda

If you are a decision maker, or someone who advocates to decision makers about cycling, this video is a must-watch for you. For everyone else, its a very interesting video to watch.
Or click here to download and view a comprehensive pdf.

Image credit:

The last word

Image credit: The internet source has unfortunately been lost!

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.

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!

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