The Burke Road North (BRN) roundabout had been a significant safety issue of concern in the local community for several decades.
As one of only two of the major exits off the Eastern Freeway to Melbourne’s northern suburbs, the roundabout was a very busy intersection as well as a ‘lifeline’ to local schools, shops, public transport and other services. However, excessive traffic volumes and high speed had made it difficult for pedestrians to cross the road safely, day and night.
Paul grew up in the area. Now that he’s a parent, being able to walk in his local neighbourhood became an even more important issue. He found out about Victoria Walks and immediately convened East Ivanhoe Walking Action Group (EIWAG). He posted some information on the EIWAG page about his concerns as well as some research he had done about the roundabout.
Paul discussed the issue with his neighbours. They thought that it would be a good idea to bring together people who shared their concerns and all interested parties. The group made a flyer calling for a community meeting and letterboxed their surrounding area to get the word out. EIWAG sent letters to the local MP, local councillor and VicRoads to notify them of the event, and contacted the Heidelberg Leader to cover the issue.
More than 100 people, as well as VicRoads representatives, the mayor and the local MP attended the community meeting. The issue was featured in the Leader and attracted a lot of attention. EIWAG’s demands were clearly outlined to the authorities, with the message that the group would keep campaigning until their demands were met.
After that, EIWAG kept the pressure on by finding opportunities to appear in the local media. EIWAG members also wrote letters to the editor and highlighted the topic at relevant council meetings.
The EIWAG webpage enabled the group to coordinate the local communities campaign for pedestrian safety at this notorious intersection. This they achieved through enabling photos, letters and newspaper articles and background contextual materials essential for the campaign to be coordinated through the EIWAG webpage.
It was a vital way for EIWAG members, interested community members and most importantly the authorities to keep in touch with what was happening. The webpage on Victoria Walks’ website gave the group a public presence and profile that helped open doors and enabled the pedestrian safety campaign to further its legitimate claims regarding the pressing need for a safe pedestrian activated crossing mechanism across a major road.
Finally, in May 2010, EIWAG’s campaign for a safer pedestrian crossing was successful. The state government announced that the Bourke Road North roundabout would have pedestrian lights installed.
Key factors leading to EIWAG's successful campaign
1. Building a community of support
EIWAG organised public meetings and letterboxed the local area to drum up support, and attracted the support of their local traders too.
2. Developed relationships with authorities and political representatives -
- Local Council as well as councillors and mayor
- State Members of Parliament - lower house and upper house representatives
- VicRoads representatives
3. Developed key messages - focus on the issue rather than the solution
When asked what needs to be done, be clear that the WAG's role is not to be an expert or engineer. Focus on what needs fixing and why, rather than getting caught up in how and what needs to be done. eg:
"Through our actions today, we hope to send 3 clear messages to the 3 Authorities responsible for our safety (The Banyule City Council, VicRoads and the State Government):
- That we want to be able to cross this intersection safely;
- That we want all three Authorities to recognize that THERE IS AN ISSUE and work together to FIX the issue NOW; and
- We will continue to actively campaign until we get a safe pedestrian crossing in place."
4. Being apolitical - be mindful about political parties' agenda so play a straight bat.
5. Keeping in touch - with community members as well as the authorities.
6. Always let parties know what you're doing - Vic Roads, Council, local media (Heidelberg Leader).
7. Taking a non-antagonistic, co-operative approach, always respectful with the stakeholders: Governments, VicRoads etc.
8. Thanking those who have supported the initiative, publicly if possible.
|Mayor Jenny Mulholland and Matthew Guy MP were invited to EIWAG's community meeting||EIWAG kept Heidelberg Leader informed with media releases||Thank you card sent to councillors, MPs and VicRoads representatives|