5 September 2022

Retrofit local streets to encourage walking, cycling for short trips first: public transport association

| Lottie Twyford
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West Basin NewActon Lake Burley Griffin Bike Path CyclistPhoto: Michelle Kroll

Not many people cycle to work in the ACT yet, but the Government wants that to change. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The Territory Government should focus its active travel efforts on short, sub-five kilometre trips and encourage Canberrans to walk or cycle around their own suburbs, says the Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR).

The association calls these short journeys “low-hanging fruit” and they want the Government to update suburban “collector” streets so it’s easier to cycle or walk to the local shops or schools.

Collector streets are larger roads that feed cars out of a suburb onto an arterial road and are often home to destinations like shops and sporting facilities.

Examples include Murranji Street in Hawker, Knox Street in Watson and Nemarang Crescent in Waramanga.

“[Those streets] are engineered for car traffic: they’re wide, with gentle curves, and unsurprisingly, cars drive fast on them, regardless of the posted speed limit. So they are rarely inviting places to walk or ride,” the PTCBR said.

Speeding sign road safety. Photo: Region Media.

The public transport association says too much focus has been on major arterial cycling links and not enough on local ones. Photo: Region.

It says simple changes include updating and retrofitting these roads with structured parking, protected bikeways and tree plantings. It might also mean including wider verges, for example.

The association also called on the Government to focus on integrating public transport and active travel so people can switch up the way they travel on their journeys.

It’s the association’s view that people could be more easily convinced to change the way they make short trips rather than longer ones – such as driving to work. It has expressed concerns the Government has chosen to focus too much on major cycleways in a recent submission to consultation on the Government’s draft active travel plan.

“The linear routes connecting town centres look nice on a map, but they will likely only serve the small section of the population which regularly rides lengthy distances,” the association’s submission to the consultation said.

It says those longer trips could be better served by public transport.

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Association chair Ryan Hemsley described the Government’s vision as exciting but said delivering the plan would be the hard part.

“Canberra already has a reasonably good network of bikeways connecting our town centres. But right now, only so many of us are willing or able to ride ten or more kilometres to work each day. It’s time now to focus on the smaller, local routes which will get people riding to school, the shops, and onto transport,” he said.

“We’re also very excited about how our established street hierarchy could be part of the solution. For example, many collector streets built during the 1960s-1980s are very wide and encourage cars to drive at excessive speeds. Some modest changes would make them safer and much more inviting places to walk and ride.”

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel released the government’s draft active travel plan in July.

It contained a range of measures aimed at encouraging greater take-up of travel options such as walking, cycling, e-scootering and skateboarding.

The ACT Government will also next year consult with the community on changing the speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h in suburban local streets and trial partial street closures and chicanes.

Consultation has now closed on the draft travel plan.

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HiddenDragon7:00 pm 06 Sep 22

In a town plagued with nuisance lobby groups who want to force other people to live like them, it’s grimly amusing to see one anti-car lobby group implicitly slagging off the handiwork of another anti-car lobby group –

“The linear routes connecting town centres look nice on a map, but they will likely only serve the small section of the population which regularly rides lengthy distances”

The only part of this which is almost certain to happen is cutting the speed limit from 50 to 40 km/h on “suburban local streets”, which will give some succour to the car-haters and increase the revenue yield from the speed vans.

Jeremy Jones3:09 pm 06 Sep 22

I agree with the need for a more pedestrian-friendly Canberra. Even apart from the question of building more footpaths, drivers’ attitudes towards pedestrians are atrocious — if you’re not at one of the very few zebra crosswalks, drivers have no deference to, or even awareness of, pedestrians trying to cross at intersections. Definitely does not foster a “walkable, friendly community” vibe.

I’m not going to cycle to the shops – how will I bring the groceries home. What do these people think we go to the shops for? Just to sit around sipping lattés?!

Robert Knight6:45 pm 06 Sep 22

Take a backpack, Bob.

Bob: panniers, a basket, cargo bike…take your pick.

Some people might be able to do that Robert but it’s not really an option for anyone with mobility issues or anyone that needs to purchase more than the basics.

My mum used to regularly catch a bus from near her house to her suburban shops and back again before they took away her bus stop.

The Public Transport Association strongly supported the new 2019 bus network and its removal of over 700 bus stops across the suburbs of Canberra.

Now they’re trying to get her to either walk or ride a few kilometres to the shops or to get the ACT government to fix a suburban public transport system they helped break.

That’s because they aren’t really a “Public Transport Association”, they’re a light rail lobby group and the removal of those bus routes fit their most important goal.

So if you read the UN Agenda 2030 documents, it’s clear there is a push to force people into peasant type living. The radical green agenda tries to put a smiling face on extreme authoritarian tendencies of the radicals. Don’t be fooled by the green thing – a lot of the extreme greens are basically Communists hiding inside the green movement.

Yes, these very wide major roads need to be able to be navigated by people on foot as well as cycling. We need to be able to cross the roads and walk along them safely, as well as to have seating along the way for older people to rest whilst still getting regular exercise. Where I live, there are 3 lots of shops (Griffith, Kingston, Manuka)within 20 minutes walk but in every case I need to cross major roads with rapidly often heavy speeding traffic without any access to pedestrian crossings or traffic lights. When my elderly father visited he wanted to walk into Kingston, but trying to get him safely across Canberra Avenue was terrifying (I can run)and there were no seats along the way so he could rest when inevitably he got tired.

I also worry when taking little kids across the road, as there’s no way of knowing when a car will come along way above the speed limit as they do it all the time. They just don’t seem to consider pedestrians. The ACT government doesn’t either. It’s really hard to teach kids good habits crossing roads, when there are no pedestrian crossings, or when the traffic lights do not allow enough time to get across, so you have to cross against the red light or stay stuck in the middle of Canberra Avenue with huge trucks passing at speed near the Fyshwick markets.

Jeremy Jones3:21 pm 06 Sep 22

Agreed! I just checked, and it’s a full kilometer of busy Canberra Ave without a protected crossing (from National Cct to the Manuka Oval crossing). Not ideal!

ChrisinTurner2:03 pm 06 Sep 22

Footpaths in much of inner north Canberra are not suitable for walking, much less riding. A friend ended up in hospital recently after falling in Civic on poorly maintained block pavers. Where I live some footpaths just end unexpectedly. So much work needed.

Capital Retro10:53 am 06 Sep 22

Let’s get real, cycling isn’t compatible with the hills and dales in Canberra. Neither is walking for older people. Some suburban streets have no footpaths and there is no scope to retrofit them as they were designed not to be included. Cars already take up the spaces where footpaths should have been.

Do any of these advisory groups ever come out to the suburbs? So much for “consultation”.

Active travel is just another fairy tale like 100% renewable electricity.

Hills and dales arent a problem with ebikes and the new escooter things. Not a big fan, but they should be allowed to go somewhere and absolutely places for them can be retrofitted. In many parts of canberra normal pushbikes work great too – i did my weekly shops with mine for 4 years.

Agree we need footpaths, even if it means narrowing the road to enable it. A person on foot should have as much right to get where they’re going as a person in a car. Let’s face it, most cars only have one person in them yet for some reason, they see themselves as having more rights than people on foot on bicycles or mobility scooters. Why?

I agree with your comment about e-bikes and scooters being able to deal with hills that pedal-powered bikes can’t. My only issue is that of safety.
It’s scary enough when a pedal-powered bike whizzes past you unexpectedly, but E-bikes and scooters are pretty much (slow) motorbikes.

Capital Retro5:52 pm 06 Sep 22

But any transport device with a “E” in front of it isn’t “active transport”.

While you were fortunate enough to be fit enough to ride a pushbike many people are not.

Many people can’t drive cars either.

Capital Retro11:53 am 07 Sep 22

Some people persist in breathing though.

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