Summary of Project
The Darebin Safe Travel Strategy has moved beyond traditional `road safety’- a very car oriented approach-, to a more inclusive concept of ‘safe travel’.
The Strategy adopts an international best practice approach to safe travel by focussing on protecting our most vulnerable road users – pedestrians and cyclists –and includes actions to encourage residents to adopt these safer and more sustainable modes.
The Darebin Safe Travel Strategy has been developed using a highly consultative process and provides many positive opportunities to increase safe travel initiatives across groups from early years, youth, the CALD community, schools, families, and aged & disability groups.
The Strategy has been developed within a financially responsible framework, with sixty percent of the actions able to be included in existing Council operational and capital programs which will serve to reduce costs.
1. Prioritise the safety of vulnerable road users (pedestrians and cyclists);
2. Reduce the negative effect of high impact road users (car and PTW drivers);
3. Encourage people to adopt more sustainable modes of travel by improving infrastructure and amenity; and
4. Engage key partners and stakeholders through effective communication.
1. Increased safety and upgraded facilities and road environments for pedestrians and cyclists;
2. Increased safety in local streets by targeting high impact road users with programs to reduce unsafe and antisocial driving behaviours;
3. An increase in mode-share for walking and cycling in Darebin fostered by travel planning, information and incentives around using sustainable modes, and programs such as Cycle Wise training which develops skills and knowledge among new and less confident cyclists; and
4. Increased engagement of key community partners and safe travel messages that are clearly communicated and understood across Darebin’s culturally and linguistically diverse community.
Innovative and distinguishing features of the project-
The Darebin Safe Travel Strategy is an innovative project as it applies international best practice on a local level. The Strategy applies a new approach to road safety in Victoria and Australia while fitting in with Local, State, and National road safety Policies and Strategies.
The way that the Darebin Safe Travel Strategy differs from other road safety strategies, is that it gets away from a car centric way of thinking and focuses on encouragement, education, and enforcement to change road user behaviour ahead of focussing on engineering (which is left as a secondary defence).
Reducing the speed and volume of vehicles on the road has been prioritised in the Strategy as the most effective way of increasing safety on our roads.
The Strategy puts an onus on those who have the highest impact on road safety- vehicle drivers- to examine their behaviour and drive more responsibly, to minimise vehicle trips and switch to lower impact, more sustainable modes wherever possible.
Almost everyone is a pedestrian at some point of their journey, with most vehicle and public transport trips beginning and ending with a walk. A high percentage of Darebin residents walk and take public transport and are three times more likely to cycle to work than the Melboune Average. These residents who are using lower impact modes and having a less negative impact on road safety need to be protected from high impact road users, so they can travel safely.
The Strategy is also quite unique as it was significantly re-shaped after consultation with the local community and key stakeholders to incorporate their feedback and suggestions. The final result has been a concise and easy to read and understand Strategy that adopts a new approach to road safety in Australia.
Barriers overcome to achieve success
The main barrier to creating the Darebin Safe Travel Strategy was that the approach of prioritising pedestrians and cyclists over car drivers and encouraging people to adopt more sustainable modes of transport had the possibility of resistance by the large majority of the community that driver motor vehicles (high impact road users).
While there was a large risk of alienating car drivers through the Strategy, a high level of partnering and community consultation made sure that everyone understood and was comfortable with the concept of high impact and vulnerable road users.
Because almost everyone is a pedestrian at some point in their journey, the concept of protecting vulnerable road users from high impact road users came across as a very common sense approach and the Strategy has been taken on board by the entire community.
The Darebin Safe Travel Strategy does not forget car drivers and contains many actions directed at protecting car drivers such as Council strengthening its focus on black spots and high crash sites.
Sustainability of the initiative
The Darebin Safe Travel Strategy is sustainable in the way that more people walking and cycling will in turn make it safer for more people to walk and cycle.
The Strategy is also environmentally sustainable as more people walking and cycling contributes to a reduction in motorised transport which is a significant contributor to green house gasses and other emissions that are detrimental to our air quality. Less cars on the road also means less traffic, noise, congestion and increased road safety for all.