Drive so others survive! National Road Safety Week is coming up next week, 15 to 22 May 2022. Traffic injury is the biggest killer of Australian children under 15. Amongst vulnerable road users, children are the most vulnerable. We need our children to be safe crossing roads if they are to walk to school. Many schools regard the existing safety to be inadequate. Let TCCS do more and talk less.
That TCCS has announced National Road Safety Week is a good thing, but take a look a close look at TCCS conviction to improve safety for children around schools, and we see that TCCS are disingenuous. TCCS need to put money where their mouth is and walk the talk.
The danger walking to school for our children is real with traffic injury is the biggest killer of Australian children under 15, even though most children are driven to school.
National Road Safety Week is a time to reflect on the lives that have been lost and is a reminder that road safety is everyone’s responsibility. Every year, more than 1,200 people are killed and 44,000 seriously injured on Australian roads. Traffic injury is the biggest killer of Australian children under 15 and the second-biggest killer of all Australians aged between 15 and 24. These numbers are growing every year but are fully preventable and not inevitable. In 2021, there were 11 lives lost in preventable road crashes in the ACT and another 4 road deaths have occurred so far in 2022.National Road Safety Week from 15 to 22 May 2022, TCCS, accessed 10 May 2022
Not enough is being done to improve the facilities around schools. Minister Chris Steel and TCCS are part of the problem. Local Area Traffic Management (LATM) is the mechanism to fix the problem around schools but Minister Steel put all LATM on hold last year.
Barriers to overcome
Minister has blocked all LATM
As directed by the Minister on 26 July 2021:Question Time Brief (QTB), Ministers Budget Estimates 2021-22, TCCS, FOI 21-111, released 3 November 2021, 145.
– All planned LATM implementations involving vertical traffic calming have been put on hold.
– No new LATM assessments will be undertaken without agreement from the Minister.
– Speed hump implementations associated with areas directly next to a school or essential safety works will require Ministerial sign-off prior to implementation.
LATM studies are currently unfunded
Implementation of recommended measures from the above studies are currently unfunded.Question Time Brief (QTB), Ministers Budget Estimates 2021-22, TCCS, FOI 21-111, released 3 November 2021, 144.
Road safety is driven by crash history
Traffic studies are undertaken on high priority streets (roads are prioritised based on current traffic speed, volume and crash data as well as the surrounding land use). Generally inappropriate speeding and/or crash rates trigger investigation warrants.Question Time Brief (QTB), Ministers Budget Estimates 2021-22, TCCS, FOI 21-111, released 3 November 2021, 143.
Not all incidents are equal. The order of importance for the ACT Government is approximately the following: deaths, personal injury, and then motor vehicle crashes. Only data that is gathered is considered. When 2 motor vehicles collide, that is recorded – at the very least by the insurance companies. If a person is taken to hospital, the hospital will record that, too.
Many things are not recorded, however. For example, your child falling off their bike because they were cut off by a car is not recorded if they rode home to tell you about it. Individual experiences like this can kill active travel. Children are unlikely to want to ride if they do not feel safe, and parents will not let their children ride to school when it is perceived unsafe.
While minor incidents will kill off active travel, it takes major incidents including the death of children to improve road safety. That’s what’s called insanity! The insensitivity of the feedback in the system makes things worse and drives our habits to a new equilibrium. We all drive our kids to school, because of all those dangerous drivers around schools. Minus yours truly, of course… 🤔
The efforts of TCCS are underwhelming
Canberra.bike supported the Lyneham petition to improve school safety. We wrote to Minister Chris Steel (see the email below). The reply was underwhelming. National Road Safety Week can be seen as a charade, as Minister Steel demonstrates little interested in fixing the problem around our schools.
2021-22 Budget for Active Travel and Safety Support for Schools
The ACT Budget includes money for improving the safety of infrastructure around schools, but it is only a tiny amount – $297,000 for the whole of the ACT. The data is found in the ACT Budget papers under Connected and sustainable Canberra – Active travel investments (TCCS CW26).
How much is that per school?
The calculation is shockingly simple, as is the outcome:
Comparison with transport investment
The active travel infrastructure for our schools and suburbs is LOW. The investment in “Active Travel and Safety Support for Schools” is just $297,000 for 2021-2022 (see above). Compare this to the largest transport projects and we see that the investment in riding and walking to school is just pennies. We continue to duplicate roads but neglect the infrastructure around our schools.
Road projects are the largest investment, with Monaro Highway upgrade and William Hovell Drive duplication making up about a third of the cake.
|By project||Total Budgeted Financing ($’000)|
|William Hovell Drive||$63,834|
|Northbourne Avenue pavement||$3,107|
|Canberra south-west corridor||$1,600|
The graph below shows that the active travel investment (just TCCS) in the 2021-2022 ACT Budget is significantly less than the last budget pre-COVID budget even though the ACT Transport spend has increased.
|Active Travel (AT)||$50.0||$21.5||million|
|AT estimate||Pedal Power||canberra.bike|
LATM before the PTCS committee
Discussion of Local Area Traffic Management (LATM) from the Transcript Of Evidence, Standing Committee On Planning, Transport And City Services (PTCS committee), ACT Legislative Assembly, 4 March 2021. Mark Parton, Shadow Transport Minister, asks how is traffic calming done?
A constituent in Banks suggested to me earlier this month that City Services staff had indicated to him that traffic calming measures, in the form of speed humps, were set to be installed on Forsythe Street in Banks. In the context of this hearing, are we able to get an indication of whether that is the case or not?
I am not aware of that specific instance, but I will ask the team whether they are aware of it. If not, they can take that question on notice. The usual process would be that assessing whether those types of treatments were going to be useful on a particular street would be informed by some sort of traffic study on the street.
This goes to my wider question. What is the process to determine whether traffic calming measures are required? Which one is optimal? What is the actual start point of that process? Is that a process that is driven by community concern or by police concern? How does it happen from start to finish?
A range of factors contribute to our assessments of local area traffic management considerations. Usually, if we get a number of concerns from the community or police with regard to a range of factors—it could be speeding, crash…
incidents or fatals—we collate all that data and undertake studies to determine the average speed and whether there are implementations other than traffic calming. We try to utilise traffic calming as a last resort. …
With regard to the installation of traffic calming measures, are you guys able to measure the effects? Do we assess the effect … and in some cases the unintended effect?
We certainly undertake follow-up audits, I believe on an annual basis, to determine the efficiencies of the implementation of those local area traffic management devices and whether it is warranted to install more devices, or remove or reassess, based on a range of factors, such as community feedback, speed surveys and police reports.Transcript Of Evidence, PTCS committee, ACT Legislative Assembly, 4 March 2021, 87-88.