Active Whitehorse News – November/December 2019

Christmas is nearly upon us – a time to get Active!

An excess of Christmas Spirit and generally warmer weather (not TOO hot) can both be a great incentive to be more active.

We’ve scoured the world for information about Active Transport and activity generally… and the resulting personal health benefits.

All involved with WATAG wish you a safe and Merry Christmas, and best wishes for the start of a whole new decade!

Australian and New Zealand teenagers among most inactive in the world

Almost 90% do not meet recommended target of an hour of moderate exercise a day, a study has found.

two boys on a sofa on devices

Out of 25 high-income western countries, Australia has the highest number of teenagers not meeting physical activity guidelines. Photo posed by models. Photograph: Caiaimage/Paul Viant/Getty Images/Caiaimage

Australian youth are among the most inactive in the world, the first global ranking of the physical activity of 11-17 year olds has found, with neighbouring New Zealand faring only slightly better.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia and the Imperial College in London analysed data from 298 school surveys on physical activity levels from 146 countries, representing 1.6 million students. Australia was one of the worst performers, ranking in at 140. New Zealand came in at 138 in the ranking, which was published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal on Friday.

The World Health Organisation, which funded the survey, recommends adolescents do moderate or vigorous physical activity for an hour or more each day. Eighty-nine per cent of young Australians and New Zealanders did not meet this recommendation. Out of 25 high-income western countries, Australia had the highest number of teenagers – nine out of 10 – not meeting physical activity guidelines. Italy and France were rated second and third respectively.

Reproduced from The Guardian. Friday 22nd November – by Melissa Davey.
Click to read the full article.

Also read this article on the same subject in The Conversation

WATAG has strongly advocated for Government, Councils and Parents to help redress this alarming situation by radically changing the emphasis away from cars and towards Active Transport – particularly for children traveling to and from school.

Our last Newsletter article Study shows sport not helping teens highlighted the same problem and shows that Council budget priorities are wrongly directed.

Many Councils concentrate on the provision of infrastructure for formal sports at the expense of assisting the community to use other ways of getting necessary exercise.

As an example, Whitehorse Council’s latest budget perpetuates this problem.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is budget-inequity.jpg

This graph shows that 18% of the population will receive a massive 97% of the 2019/20 recreation related budget. The 82% who walk and ride for exercise, recreation or transport get just 3%

Here’s a little quiz to see how engaged YOU are

It’s about City Of Melbourne, but your views on your local community might also be reflected. All communities need people just like you to get more involved.
Here’s how:

Your Country Needs You

  1. Reading this newsletter is a start.
  2. Clicking the Subscribe button in the adjacent column is great way of keeping in touch with what’s possible.
  3. Joining WATAG as a Member is the next step.

Your community needs YOU.

Bike Buddies

Despite some rain Dutch King Willem-Alexander is shown cycling with a Bike Buddy.
He really enjoys this kind of connection with people. And he loves bikes too!

Dutch King Willem Alexander with one of his a Bike Buddies. (Bike buddies = Fietsmaatjes)

Fietsmaatjes is for people who like to go out by bike, but because of a limitation they now have,  they are no longer able to do this independently. Fietsmaatjes means they can now cycle with a volunteer on a duo bike with pedal assistance. This idea has caught on so much that Fietsmaatjes now also exists in many Dutch municipalities.

Read more about Fietsmaatjes here (Google Translate version of their website)

A recent WATAG Post on the Cycling Without Age shows how a similar program opreates in Australia.


WATAG would like to encourage the development of a program like this in the Whitehorse area. We think it would be a great initiative for Whitehorse Council to embrace and coordinate with other local groups to make it happen.

Active Transport – just for the enjoyment of it!

Advocating for Active Transport is not only about building big bridges or cool underpasses for cyclists to zip through. It is also about trusting everything is safe enough to just go out for a walk, or on your bike, and enjoy yourself.


Prolific Twitter contributor, @BicycleDutch , took this great video of people riding through a Den Bosch (Holland) park on a sunny autumn afternoon.
Also have a look at the Bicycle Dutch Riding In Autumn web page – it’s great!

Vienna makes it safer

The Naschmarkt cycle path in Vienna recently opened. Finally a safe bike connection filling an important gap in the cycling network. What a difference to the previous year!

Active Transport Priority?

Many cities talk about prioritizing active transportation. But few actually do.

At this intersection on the TU Delft campus, pedestrians and cyclists have a continuous green light, and car drivers must effective  “ask for permission” to cross the foot and cycle path – just the way pedestrians have to usually.    Click to watch the video.

WATAG would love to see this “reverse” priority applied to many busy routes in Melbourne where the number of walkers and bikes often greatly outnumber the cars. Most of the minor streets crossing the Capital City Trail in North Carlton come to mind. No traffic lights needed there, but STOP signs facing the care are needed!

Could YOU crush your car and go carless?

“I have rarely regretted making the decision to go carless. It takes longer for me to get anywhere and I am at the whims of the many faults that befall the public transport system in Melbourne. Yet I arrive everywhere less stressed because I haven’t been stuck in traffic for hours, unable to move from my seat, surrounded by fellow stressed drivers”

Celeste Liddle did. Read her story.

Its not a decision that we all could make but it’s worked for Celeste, and now she’s a firm Active Transport user. Celeste says “… in the privileged inner suburban position I am in, I will continue to enjoy being car-free.”

Kids Raised in Walkable Cities Earn More Money As Adults

A woman and a child walk by the NYSE in the Manhattan borough of New York,

A woman and a child walk in New York, the city with the highest score for walkability given at A new study finds that growing up in a walkable neighborhood can increase upward economic mobility for children. David Delgado/Reuters

A new study finds that even considering other factors, the walkability of a child’s neighborhood has a direct correlation to increased adult earnings.

The benefits of walkable neighborhoods are many and varied. People who live in walkable neighborhoods are more active, healthier, have more time to spend with family and friends, and report higher levels of happiness and subjective well-being.

Now, add another big benefit to the list: Children who live in walkable neighborhoods have higher levels of upward economic mobility.

That’s the key finding from a new study published in the American Psychologist. The study, “The Socioecological Psychology of Upward Social Mobility,” by psychologists at Columbia University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, looks at the effect of growing up in a walkable community on the economic mobility of children.

Check out this article in CityLab by

Bryant Park – possibly the busiest place you’ve never heard of!


Bryant Park New York. A park for people without wheels – not even bikes. Its also smoke free!

The lawn is lush and green and the flowers change seasonally but Bryant Park is more than a garden. When you first discover it, nestled in its canyon of skyscrapers, it’s like an oasis–a refuge of peace and calm. But Bryant Park is a city park, full of historical monuments and urban amenities. The park is a social place where friends meet, eat lunch, chat, stroll, listen to music, work on the wireless network, or simply sit and think. Winter, summer, spring, and fall, New Yorkers love this park.

We need more open spaces like Bryant Park. But it didn’t just happen by accident. It was first set aside as a park in 1686. Check out the  fascinating history since then.

What’s the lesson for all of us here down under?

Everything is possible, better things can evolve from what used to be quite good but is now outdated, you just need those in control to have the gumption to do things that are different from what they’ve always done.

(And we won’t even mention Amsterdam or other Dutch cities here, and how they have transitioned from being totally car-centric cities just a few decades ago, to the be the envy of the Active Transport world….yes we WILL and we just have!)

Seven steps Melbourne can take to regain its ‘liveable city’ crown

From The Conversation, April 5, 2019, by


The main concern when talking about the liveability of a city like Melbourne should be sustaining the health and well-being of residents.

file-20190327-139368-nddrzg file-20190322-36260-fuwd8n
Photo left: A city that makes walking more convenient has many benefits for health and well-being.fritz16/Shutterstock
Photo right: A shift from cars to cycling could free up a lot of road and parking space in the city. Abdul Razak Latif/Shutterstock

The following are seven strategies.

  1. Put people at the centre of public spaces
  2. Increase density and land-use mix
  3. Reduce motorised traffic and move towards public and active transport
  4. Zero-emission motorised traffic by 2035
  5. Increase green space
  6. Control pollution emissions from other sources
  7. Improve governance

Read the full article in The Conversation

We’ve written in many previous Newsletters about the potential for Box Hill to be a wonderfully ‘liveable’ MAC (Metropolitan Activity Centre). WATAG has had the opportunity to contribute as a community stakeholder in several Council-sponsored forums. We highly recommend the above article and consideration of its seven strategies to all with an interest in the future of Box Hill – and other MACs too.

For a longer life get moving

By Gretchen Reynolds. The Age

All activity counts – photo The Age 05/09/2019

“Take the stairs rather than escalators. Use your bike if possible for transportation. Sit less, move more and move often.” – Ulf Ekeland, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences

Men and women who move around throughout the day, even if they just stroll or clean the kitchen and do not formally exercise, are less likely to die prematurely than people who hardly ever leave their chairs, according to a new study of physical activity and mortality.

The study, the largest of its kind to date, finds that any activity, no matter how modest, can reduce mortality risks, with some of the greatest gains seen when people shift from being almost completely sedentary toward rising and ambling for even an extra hour each day.

By now, none of us should be surprised to hear that movement and exercise and movement are good for us. Many studies show links between activity and longevity, with more moving almost always tied to longer life spans.

A limitation of these past studies, however, is that in many of them, researchers asked people how active they had been in recent days or weeks, and most of us cannot accurately report how much time we spent sitting or completing gentle, everyday activities like cooking and cleaning.

Some of those past studies, however, did equip people with activity trackers to objectively monitor their days. But most of those have tended to be small or focused only on men, women or older adults, making their results difficult to interpret for the general population.

So for the new study, which was published in August in the British Medical Journal, an international consortium of researchers decided to find, combine and reanalyse as much data as possible from earlier studies that had provided volunteers with activity monitors.

Read the full article here.

The next article gives some clues about what most people do to keep more active, and suggests a way for Councils to help people engage in Active Transport even more.

Australia’s top 20 sports and physical activities revealed

Walking is Australia's most popular physical activity

AusPlay data has revealed walking is Australia’s top physical activity.

Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer says it’s encouraging to see a gradual increase in physical activity levels of Australians, but warns it will require much more improvement and long-term behavioural change to combat Australia’s inactivity crisis.  – 30 April 2019

Sport Australia has released the latest annual data from its AusPlay survey, Australia’s largest and most comprehensive sport and physical activity survey launched in late-2015.

Walking ranks No 1, but we still need to step up our activity levels.

Walking has the highest participation rate, but is rarely an organised activity so Australians spend far less on walking than the other top 20 activities. Australian adults spend approximately $23million per year on walking participation, compared to more than $3billion Australian adults spend each year on fitness and gym activities.

Unfortunately, some local Councils think that its fair to spend the bulk of their activity related budgets on activities that are followed by the fewest people.

In City of Whitehorse, for example, the graph in the first article in this newsletter shows that 18% of the population will receive a massive 97% of the 2019/20 recreation related budget. The 82% who walk and ride for exercise, recreation or transport get just 3%.

WATAG hopes that Whitehorse, and other councils too, will redress this balance in coming years, and support people who want to be active.

Read the full AusPlay report here.

Box Hill to Ringwood Shared User Path – Laburnum section

After years of delay, Department of Transport (DoT) formerly VicRoads has finally submitted its proposals to Whitehorse Council with a deadline – DoT “would appreciate your response by 16 December 2019 to ensure we can meet committed delivery and budget timelines to deliver this project to the community by the middle of 2020.”

The DoT proposal for the entire path from Middleborough Rd to Blackburn Station as presented to Council can be read here. Apart from the use of a signalised crossing of Laburnum St beside the rail bridge at Laburnum Station, the Laburnum St design is substantially the same as presented years ago. ie speed humps and  sharrows.

Public consultations were held by DoT. Read their report to Council and, if you went to one of the sessions, reflect on whether you think their analysis of community sentiment is accurate.

Many local cyclists and advocates gave their views to Council.

Following representations by WATAG to the local State Member Paul Hamer, and separate meetings with Council and DoT (VicRoads) staff, an onsite meeting between WATAG, DoT and Council officers was held to discuss the alignment of the path through Laburnum Park. As a result DoT prepared alternate path alignments through the park for consideration by Council as shown here.

Unfortunately the physical constraints of the road width in Laburnum St, the regular driveways every 20 metres or so, street trees, and car parking all mitigate against anything except a shared carriageway solution along Laburnum St to Main St Blackburn.

AustRoads gives guidance on cyclist infrastructure suitable for differing traffic situations. The graph below (p15 of the AustRoads Guide) shows that for a vehicle speed of 40 km/hr (as proposed by DoT  and assuming cars obey the speed limit) a shared carriage way solution is not  suitable if car volumes are above about 250 vehicles /hr. We don’t have hourly volumes, but a daily volume of 3800 vehicles/day means that peak-time hourly volumes are likely to be around 500-600 vehicles/hour. Traffic in Laburnum St at peak time is nearly continuous, so this may be an underestimate. The graph shows that the shared-carriageway solution proposed by DoT is NOT recommended, and in fact physical segregation is possibly indicated.cyclist-car separation graph

However, because of the physical constraints noted above, DoT has taken the view that only a shared carriageway with speed humps and sharrows is possible.

WATAG believes this to be quite unacceptable. Cars are again being given priority over Active Transport.

If, as all interested parties contend (including WATAG), the Box Hill Ringwood Shared Path needs completion, this section must be as “cyclist friendly” as the rest of the route. Consequently we recommend much more radical treatments at the entrances to Laburnum St, and along its length, to bring about a big reduction in car volumes. By making Laburnum St a much less desirable alternative to use as a ‘rat run’ by cars whose origins are not in the immediate area, we believe a big reduction in peak hour volumes could be achieved. This would make the street far more ‘bike friendly’ and reverse the priority back towards favouring Active Transport over cars.

At the Council meeting on 9th December, Council accepted the DoT proposals without modification except that the route in Laburnum Park is to be finalised by the CEO. WATAG strongly recommends that the shorter less intrusive route be chosen.

Since DoT will pass control and responsibility for the entire route to Whitehorse Council once their work is complete, WATAG challenges the Council to continue any work done by DoT in Laburnum St, and take the extra steps necessary to reduce the car volumes substantially.

Not only will this make the route far more suitable for all-age cycling, but WATAG feels sure that local residents will be pleased to get back a far less trafficked street, and be much more pleasant for pedestrians too.

Become your own expert

Here’s an interesting free online tool to help bring out the ‘traffic engineer’ in you.


Use www. to design, remix, and share your street. Add bike paths, widen sidewalks or traffic lanes, learn how all of this can impact your community.

It worked wonders in Reno Nevada where they though cars had too much space and bikes not enough.

This might have been useful for those commenting on the use of Laburnum St for a major bike path!

Well done to the Streetmix team!

City of Whitehorse

WCC website

Whitehorse has a new revitalised website with good information about Active Transport

active transport searchVisit and do a search. You might be surprised at the results.

And don’t forget that Council actively encourages use of SnapSendSolve to report issues.

Walks Victoria

Talking of websites, Walks Victoria has a very informative and professional site.

WATAG highly recommends a visit.

Victoria Walks site

As well as being strong advocates for walking, Victoria Walks conducts top rate research which WATAG has helped publicise on our website and social media.

PLUS there’s really interesting information about Urban hikes, Dog walks, Walking and health, Assessing Walkability, Walking maps and much more.

Visit here!

Taking the Car to be Active?

Seems like a bit of a contradiction doesn’t it?

full bike racks

A recent photo at Aqualink Box Hill. BUT its not showing what you think!

In our last newsletter we had this tongue-in-cheek image:

Moment of silence

The bikes in the above photo were NOT used by swimming or gym patrons, but were Whitehorse Cyclist’s bikes. Mostly retired folks who love to ride to socialise and keep fit too. Aqualink happens to be a great place to have coffee. There were 25 fit ‘oldies’ on this club ride.

Sad to say, but the bike racks at Aqualink are virtually unused, and the carparks almost always brimming full.

Here’s a challenge to Whitehorse Council and Aqualink management. 

Make a New Year’s resolution for the new decade to help your patrons use far more Active Transport and empty out your car parks. WATAG members have tried to discuss this with Council, to no avail except to suggest use of the Green Money system they subscribe to.  Some WATAG Committee members have tried it, and report that it is not  fit-for-purpose for helping people increase their Activity to get to an Activity at Aqualink.

WATAG would be pleased to work with Council and Aqualink to provide relevant community input and suggestions about this.

We will keep you informed.

Whitehorse Cyclists

The Club is the largest recreational bike riding club in Melbourne’s east with well over 300 members.
Having mentioned Whitehorse Cyclists in the article above it would be remiss not to let you in on the secret of their success. Their website says:

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

    • Some ride 30 or 40 kilometres mainly along bike paths for morning coffee.
    • Some ride 60 kms or 70 kms along undulating paths and roads for morning coffee and lunch.
    • Some ride over 100 kms along hilly roads and trails for coffee, lunch and afternoon tea.

We all return exhilarated.
We ride Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and some Saturdays. There are also some women-specific rides monthly on Saturdays.
We have the most extensive ride calendar in Melbourne.

Group riding is safe riding. Safety is our priority.
The Club is very active and currently runs up to 14 rides a week.
We are recreational riders, but to start you will need to be able to ride 30 kms at 15kms per hour
Ride three times a week or once a month; your choice. Try out the rides before you join! We also advocate for safe cycling paths and linkages.”

Check out their website and ride program and give it a go!

WATAG Annual Report

Another successful year foir WATAG. Here is the President’s Report for 2019.

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