Southern Cross Drive between Belconnen and Kippax is officially a Main Community Route, but it is currently not compliant with the ACT Government’s Active Travel Standards. On both sides of the street west of Kingsford Smith Drive we find poorly maintained, narrow concrete paths. As a Main Community Route it should be replaced by a wider cycle path of at least 2.5 m width.
What is wrong with the paths the way they are? Here a few reasons why this infrastructure needs to be improved.
- The Southern Cross Drive route between Belconnen and Kippax is a Main Community Route in the bike path hierarchy. The ATIPT would have it as a Principal Community Route.
- As a Main Community Route, the Kippax route should be prioritised for funding.
- The paths along both sides of Southern Cross Drive are too narrow for cycling safely and fast.
- 1.5 m is the minimum path width for wheelchairs and the minimum width for all paths in the ACT to be compliant with the DDA – even old suburbs.
- The Southern Cross Drive route between Belconnen and Kippax suffers from a lack of maintenance and has little appeal in the current state.
- The Southern Cross Drive route between Belconnen and Kippax is poorly lit and women are unlikely to feel safe and ride or walk there.
- The road crossing on Southern Cross Drive to Primary School is unsuitable for young children. The underpass is the better option but poorly maintained and lit.
- The ACT Government should strive to maintain high standards of appearance in our suburbs, as it pays off in every way in social capital.
Information block: history of active travel
If you are interested in a simple introduction to active travel and its history in the ACT since 2012, read this article here.
Active travel hierarchy: prioritising infrastructure
Some paths are more important than others. Those that are higher in the hierarchy deserve priority for their strategic importance. This is why we have a CBR Cycle Routes. This prioritising of paths is discussed here.
Main Community Routes (MCRs)
These are the “arterials” for active transportation and connect PCRs to group and employment centres. Connected destinations also include hospitals, industrial areas and the airport precinct as well as major active travel venues such as Stromlo Forest Park.
There are a number of different types of Main Community Routes that have different purposes such as connecting town centres by alternative routes, links to other MCRs and PCRs to form a connected network and inner-urban loops in town and group centres. The latter allow higher amenity movement around these destinations with PCRs and MCRs generally terminating at the loops.Planning for Active Travel in the ACT: Active Travel Infrastructure Interim Planning Guideline (ACT Government, January 2019), page 22
Designated as a Main Community Route
The direct route between Belconnen and along Kippax Southern Cross Drive is marked as a Principal Community Route (CBR Cycle Route) on the Active Travel Infrastructure Practitioner Tool. The Macnamara Development Application shows a Main Community Route on both sides. The narrow, poorly maintained concrete paths either side of Southern Cross Drive are not compliant with the Active Travel Standard MIS05.
Active Travel Standard for cycling
According to the Active Travel Standard for cycling, Main and Local Community routes should have a width of 2.5 m in retrofit and still wider in new estates. Retrofit is the term in use for path upgrades in older suburbs (urban renewal).
Principal Community Route (PCR) –A subset of Main Community Routes (MCR) that form direct links between town centres. There are routes that are to include route labels and branding.Active Travel Facilities Design – Municipal Infrastructure Standards 05 (MIS05) (ACT Government, April 2019)
Municipal Infrastructure Standards (MIS) are found here on the ACT Government website.
Cycle infrastructure must be attractive
International cycling standards say that best practice is to make cycle infrastructure attractive, as it will be more likely to be used and adopted, and also encourage those who do not yet walk or cycle.
Further information here.
Lighting and passive surveillance
The ACT has a general code for this that is part of the Territory Plan. We published an article about this here.
Children cannot cross fast roads
Primary school children do not have the cognitive ability to judge the speed and distance of cars. Roads are much more dangerous to primary school children than adults. Why that matters is discussed here. We published two articles about walking to school at Lyneham Primary too here and here.
Maintenance is important. It gives us the pride in our suburbs and builds social capital. This social capital is returned many times over, because people will proactively look after their suburb and their community. Active travel requires trust in our local community and surroundings.
Sociological studies show that when people have pride in their community and their surrounds, they are more likely to look after it and help each other. A good deed is returned in kind. Through a positive feedback loop, the community strengthens. The logic here is that should the ACT Government put a little money in maintenance, it will be returned in kind by the community.
The reverse can also occur, should the area be neglected, then this sends signals to the community that it is open to slather – nobody cares. People on the whole are remarkably law-abiding and cooperative. When the social standards drop, they can reach a tipping point at which socially unacceptable behaviour becomes the norm. We see this in the Broken Window Phenomenon.
DDA: accessibility for all
The Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) provides protection for everyone in Australia against discrimination based on disability. It also aims to promote equal opportunity and access for people with disability.
Australian Standards are only mandatory within the property line, but it is the intent that wherever possible, paths meet the relevant Australian Standards and the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). This is the ACT Government’s intent.
The Municipal Infrastructure Standards documents
The standards MIS05, MIS17 and MIS10 are attached below.
MIS05 Active Travel Facilities Design
Minimum path width for the Municipal Infrastructure Standards 05 Active Travel Facilities Design is 1.5 m for minor paths and 2.5 m for cycle paths in retrofit.
MIS17 Shopping Centres and Commercial Areas
1.3.5 AccessibilityShopping Centres and Commercial Areas, Municipal Infrastructure Standard 17, TCCS, September 2021, 20.
General: The Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of disability in providing access to or use of premises that the public can enter or use. Public facilities must be designed to be accessible to people with disabilities. Designs for public urban spaces are expected to comply with Australian Standards AS 1428.1, AS 1428.2 and AS 1428.4. Compliance with these Australian Standards does not ensure compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act.
MIS10 Fences, guardrails and barriers
2.3.4 BollardsFences, Guardrails and Barriers, Municipal Infrastructure Standards 10, TCCS, September 2021, 12.
Application: An effective means to control or prevent vehicular access to open space areas or verges. Consider vulnerable user groups and visibility within car parks or school zones.
– Opening width: Desirable 1.4m, minimum 1.2m and maximum 1.5m to prevent vehicular access.
– Lateral clearance from kerb lines:
– To restrict access to verges: 1.2m.
– To restrict access to open space: Minimum 1.8m.
– Minimum lateral clearance from driveways: 1.2m, refer to MIS07 Driveways.
– Lateral clearance to paths: 0.3 to 1.0m; refer to AGRD 6A Clause 7.7.1.