A survey released by VicHealth today has shown it's time for the Victorian state government to get on with making it easier to move around during COVID-19.
More than 75 per cent of Victorians have said that they want local and state governments to adapt infrastructure so more people can ride and walk.
While some councils, such as Melbourne, Yarra and Port Phillip, have begun making changes to streets and installing quick-build bike lanes, the state government has made no clear commitment to help people to ride and walk.
Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards said it is time for the Andrews Labor Government to start supporting councils.
"Councils are doing their best to help people move around during COVID-19 but resources are stretched. It's time for the Victorian government to help us build towards the new normal." said Mr Richards.
"We know that we can't go back to packed trains and we can't make congestion worse that in already is with more cars on the road. Creating more space for riding and walking is the only way we can come out of COVID-19."
As well as 76 per cent of Victorians wanting local and state governments to adapt infrastructure so more people can walk or ride, other VicHealth survey findings included:
- 1 in 3 Victorians said a lack of lighting was a barrier to walking more
- 1 in 2 didn’t feel safe riding on roads or near cars
- 2 in 3 may ride for transport more if bike lanes were physically separated from the road.
"People are clamouring for more bike facilities and for them to be safer and more attractive. Politicians need have no fears that they will be strongly supported for backing such improvements," added Mr Richards.
VicHealth Executive Manager of Programs Kirstan Corben said: “Our survey shows people want to walk or ride to places like work, university, school or the shops when restrictions ease, but they’re concerned about their safety.
"Walking and riding is great for our physical and mental health during and after lockdown, and our environment and local businesses benefit too,” Ms Corben said.
“Making temporary and permanent infrastructure changes can help Victorians feel comfortable and confident about active travel, and ensure they can maintain at least 1.5m from other people.
A submission made earlier this year by Bicycle Network, Pedalling to a Better Normal, proposed a $26 million investment from the state government in pop-up bike lanes.
The investment would develop 65 kilometres of protected bike lanes and be introduced alongside supportive legislation for bike riders including minimum passing distance laws and footpath riding.
Roads that could have bike lanes installed with state government assistance include:
- Beaconsfield Parade and Jacka Boulevard: two roads which are already planned for upgrades
- Sydney Road in Brunswick: City of Moreland is keen and the state government has already undertaken extensive investigations and a comprehensive design exercise.
- Chapel Street Prahran and South Yarra: it's time to enact the strategic vision for the street previously adopted by the council. The new council car park is opens so car parking demand can be met off-street.
- Mt Alexander Road, Essendon to Flemington: identified as a key bike route in numerous reports and study over many years.
- Elizabeth Street, Richmond: protected bike lanes are being trialled right now. Take those findings and roll out a new, permanent version on this key route to the central city.
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.