Gov urged to make walking cycling easier

Heart Foundation

A coalition of 13 walking, bike riding, transport, health and research groups are urging the Victorian Government to make it easier for people to walk and ride as more Victorians return to working onsite.

The coalition has released the Streets are for everyone consensus statement, which outlines three clear and practical steps needed to create vibrant, active and connected communities in a COVID-normal Victoria.

The statement found by walking or bike riding instead of driving by car an average Melbournian family could save up to $80 per day.

Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) Senior Manager Transport, Planning and Infrastructure, Peter Kartsidimas said that last year highlighted the different mobility options available for Victorians.

“Since the coronavirus pandemic began, we’ve seen an increase in the number of people riding their bikes, walking, jogging and scooting as a way of getting around, keeping active, and exploring and connecting with their local communities,” Peter said.

“Many Victorians have told us they want to ride and walk more, but they want to feel safe to do so. The Victorian Government must build communities where all Victorians have the option of walking or riding to work, the shops or other local destinations.”

In October, the Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Ben Carroll announced $13 million for pop-up bike lanes to be installed in Melbourne’s inner suburbs to help more people safely travel into the CBD in the new COVID-normal environment.

Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards said the pop-up bike lanes are a positive step and more to be done to make it easier for Victorians outside of Melbourne’s CBD to also walk and ride.

“We welcome the Victorian Government’s move to install 100km of new and improved bike routes in inner-Melbourne, it’s a great move. We urgently need more well-connected walking and bike riding paths in suburban Melbourne and regional Victoria,” Craig said.

“The pandemic highlighted the huge differences in walking and bike riding infrastructure based on where people live. People in areas with limited walking and bike riding options are left to rely on a car to get to work, school, the shops and other public services.”

Heart Foundation Victorian CEO Kellie-Ann Jolly said providing walking and bike riding options benefits kids and families everywhere.

Walking and bike riding are core pillars of healthy, vibrant and liveable cities and neighbourhoods, boosting mental and physical health and fostering community connection.

“There is very strong public support for upgrades to walking and bike riding infrastructure and the benefit-cost ratio for investing in walking and bike riding is extremely high compared to other transport projects. An investment of $500 million in walking and bike riding trips would return a value of $6.5 billion to the Victorian community.”

The 13 groups have outlined the following recommendations:

  • Recognise walking and bike riding as an essential part of integrated transport planning

  • Prioritise streets for people in residential areas, around schools and shopping strips

  • Upgrade cities, regional centres and local neighbourhoods by improving footpaths, bike lanes, crossing opportunities and completing missing links.

Read the full consensus statement here: [ADD LINK]

The Streets are for everyone: a consensus statement to support more walking and bike riding for Victorians was prepared with input from a working group which includes Amy Gillett Foundation, Bicycle Network, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand, IPAN – Deakin University, Heart Foundation, Monash University – School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Municipal Association of Victoria, ORIMA research, Parents’ Voice, Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), VicHealth, Victoria Walks, We Ride Australia.

Key statistics:

  • 3 in 4 Victorians said they want local and state governments to adapt infrastructure so more people can walk or ride (VicHealth, Aug 2020)

  • More than 1 in 3 Victorians planned to travel more by foot or bike than they did pre-coronavirus, but safety is a barrier for many (VicHealth, Aug 2020)

  • 8 in 10 want safer footpaths and facilities such as local shops or parks to be accessible by foot or bicycle (Heart Foundation, Nov 2020)

  • More than 8-in-10 people support temporarily removing car parks to make way for pop-up bike lanes and wider footpaths around their local area (RACV poll, May 2020)

  • 9 in 10 Australians support the installation of temporary bike lanes in their local area to increase safety for people riding bikes for transport (Amy Gillett Foundation poll, June 2020).

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