These school holidays were a great opportunity to take a winter break. Many Victorian families, especially given the widespread public health restrictions, have chosen to pack the car to visit family, friends, or our rural and local areas and will be on their way home this weekend. When we get in the car or on our bikes, even if it’s just for a day trip, we expect to get to our destination and back home safely. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Last year we lost 211 lives on Victorian roads and unfortunately rural and regional communities continue to be overrepresented in the death toll. In 2020, 126 people died on regional Victorian roads, compared with 85 fatalities in metropolitan areas. It is an absolute tragedy. Nobody should have to suffer the pain of losing a loved one or friend to traffic trauma. Many more were seriously injured, some with lifelong injuries. The Victorian Councilors continue to support the Road Safety Message and sponsored a nationwide campaign as part of Road Safety Week in May this year. We highlighted the importance of promoting road safety for all road users, including drivers, pedestrians, passengers, or anyone using a mobility device. Since last March, many more Victorians have embraced the great outdoors and as a result, local streets and paths have become divided and sometimes crowded spaces. The COVID-19 pandemic has made us look at the way we live and has helped us rediscover our streets and neighborhoods. Some of us have rediscovered the joy of walking and riding, including those who have been riding two wheels for the first time since childhood, others were brand new to cycling. There have been media reports that sales of bicycles, especially children’s bicycles, have been booming since public health restrictions began. In a recent Heart Foundation survey published in November 2020, eight out of ten people responded that they “want to walk or cycle to safer footpaths and facilities such as local shops or parks”. The Victoria Community Association also partnered with VicHealth last year to break down barriers and encourage behavioral changes to help people get around safely and healthily, as interest in walking and cycling is expected to continue to grow. In a survey of city administrations as part of this project, 90 percent of respondents said that they expect an improvement in the pedestrian infrastructure, 83 percent would like to improve the bicycle infrastructure and a further 36 percent are considering reducing the speed limits in pedestrian zones in the next 12 months. With this in mind, the Victoria City Council and local government are calling for consistent, long-term funding to support infrastructure planning and road safety. Short term stimulus funding was welcomed, but future funding should support a more holistic approach to security and connectivity that includes planning and design, maintenance, education and speed management. Before the latest state budget, we asked for $ 230 million over four years for local hiking and equestrian infrastructure. Funding on this scale would have had a significant impact on the implementation of priority walking and cycling projects in all 79 Victorian parishes. In addition, targeted funding has been provided for strategic bicycle connections in Melbourne’s inner and central suburbs. We are committed to building new and improved cycle routes through the main suburbs of Melbourne on the state government’s commitment to 100 kilometers of new and improved cycle routes announced last October. In short, we can and want to do a lot more. Ahead of the upcoming state and state elections, the Municipal Association of Victoria will continue to advocate for commitments to support national and Victorian road safety strategies. These strategies require further investments in roads and roadsides, a reduction in driving speed, new vehicle technologies and measures to protect vulnerable road users. These guidelines will help us create healthier communities, socially connected public spaces, and safer travel options. It will make a difference for our communities and make our streets in suburbs and cities safer for locals and visitors alike. Cr David Clark is President of the Victoria City Council.

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OPINION

July 9, 2021 – 7:00 p.m.

These school holidays were a great opportunity to take a winter break.

Many Victorian families, especially given the widespread public health restrictions, have chosen to pack the car to visit family, friends, or our rural and local areas and will be on their way home this weekend.

When we get in the car or on our bikes, even if it’s just for a day trip, we expect to get to our destination and back home safely.

Unfortunately this is not always the case. Last year we lost 211 lives on Victorian roads and unfortunately rural and regional communities continue to be overrepresented in the death toll.

In 2020, 126 people died on regional Victorian roads, compared with 85 fatalities in metropolitan areas.

It is an absolute tragedy. Nobody should have to suffer the pain of losing a loved one or friend to traffic trauma. Many more were seriously injured, some with lifelong injuries.

The Victorian Councilors continue to support the Road Safety Message and sponsored a nationwide campaign as part of Road Safety Week in May this year.

We highlighted the importance of promoting road safety for all road users, including drivers, pedestrians, passengers, or anyone using a mobility device.

Since last March, many more Victorians have embraced the great outdoors and as a result, local streets and paths have become divided and sometimes crowded spaces.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made us look at the way we live and has helped us rediscover our streets and neighborhoods.

Some of us have rediscovered the joy of walking and riding, including those who have been riding two wheels for the first time since childhood, others were brand new to cycling.

There have been media reports that sales of bicycles, especially children’s bicycles, have been booming since public health restrictions began.

In a recent Heart Foundation survey published in November 2020, eight out of ten people responded that they “want to walk or cycle to safer footpaths and facilities such as local shops or parks”.

The Victoria Community Association also partnered with VicHealth last year to break down barriers and encourage behavioral changes to help people get around safely and healthily, as interest in walking and cycling is expected to continue to grow.

In a survey of city administrations as part of this project, 90 percent of respondents said that they expect an improvement in the pedestrian infrastructure, 83 percent would like to improve the bicycle infrastructure and a further 36 percent are considering reducing the speed limits in pedestrian zones in the next 12 months.

With this in mind, the Victoria City Council and local government are calling for consistent, long-term funding to support infrastructure planning and road safety.

Short term stimulus funding was welcomed, but future funding should support a more holistic approach to security and connectivity that includes planning and design, maintenance, education and speed management.

Before the latest state budget, we asked for $ 230 million over four years for local hiking and equestrian infrastructure.

Funding on this scale would have had a significant impact on the implementation of priority walking and cycling projects in all 79 Victorian parishes.

In addition, targeted funding has been provided for strategic bicycle connections in Melbourne’s inner and central suburbs.

We are committed to building new and improved cycle routes through the main suburbs of Melbourne on the state government’s commitment to 100 kilometers of new and improved cycle routes announced last October.

In short, we can and want to do a lot more.

Ahead of the upcoming state and state elections, the Municipal Association of Victoria will continue to advocate for commitments to support national and Victorian road safety strategies.

These strategies require further investments in roads and roadsides, a reduction in driving speed, new vehicle technologies and measures to protect vulnerable road users.

These guidelines will help us create healthier communities, socially connected public spaces, and safer travel options.

It will make a difference for our communities and make our streets in suburbs and cities safer for locals and visitors alike.

Cr David Clark is President of the Victoria City Council.

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