canberra.bike releases today our report Traffic calming: children centric street design (see attached). At its heart is that child friendly streets do not happen by accident but rather because we design them that way. We give priority to children rather than people who wish to drive. In this way, way make Whitlam shops and school a people friendly place.
Whitlam estate is new but has a poor implementation of ACT Active Travel Standards. The biggest issue is children crossing roads. The roads in Whitlam are very wide. Side streets have not been designed in a way to slow cars down. Evidence from traffic studies such as Kambah, would indicate that Canberra motorists will not stop for children without infrastructure such as zebra crossings in place. Whitlam Local Shops should “baked in” traffic calming into the road design of the surround streets. We see, however, for Alice Moyle Way, this is not the case.
We would like the ACT Government to be accountable and invest wisely, so we measure and monitoring all sorts of things. However, not everything that matters can be measured, and not everything that we can measure matters, but it matters what we measure. Confused? TCCS is. We want more people to walk and cycle, but we do not measure that. We measure congestion instead, which we do not want. We want our streets safer for walking and riding. Traffic management studies required data, but we do not collect data on that which matters: the safety of walking and cycling.
The ACT Legislative Assembly has a number of standing committees that investigate (inquiry), record (transcript of evidence) and report (report). One annual inquiry is the Estimates. The Standing Committee On Planning, Transport And City Services (PTCS Committee) is one such committee. Here are the sections from their report relating to cycle infrastructure and maintenance.
Tactical urbanism is an agile approach for planning better cities. The traditional approach entails long reports and long consultations that take a long time to complete. Traffic calming is simply rebalancing the street design to give more space and priority to people walking and cycling. For people driving, this means narrowed roads and reduced speeds. Traffic calming is a common request for TCCS and a long drawn out process. The Narrabundah investigation is currently in its second year with no outcome.
Why is it so hard to implement traffic calming in the ACT? The mechanism is so slow and tedious with petitions and discussions dragged through the ACT Legislative Assembly. Surely slowing traffic is not such a big thing. TCCS seems ill prepared to deal with the problem in an agile way, and labours through the problem like a mammoth through the tundra. Tactile urbanism is a faster way to do this.
The street and road are not the same thing. Simply put, the road is for cars, but everybody benefits from the street. Take way the road and we still have a street and it may even serve the local community better – particularly for children.
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.
The reason children do not walk and ride to school is that the cars scare them away. Primary school children do not have the cognitive ability to judge the speed and distance of cars. The selfishness of drivers and disregard for other children’s safety makes this problem far worse. What can be done?
The ACT Government has an Active Streets website for the Lyneham Primary School. Active Streets and Ride and Walk to School programs work hand in hand to promote active travel around schools.