Senate overlooks pedestrian safety

20 May 2016

The interim report of a Senate Inquiry into road safety in Australia has failed to make any recommendations to improve safety for pedestrians.

The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee has released an interim report on their inquiry into Aspects of Road Safety in Australia.

Victoria Walks made a comprehensive submission on issues of pedestrian safety in Australia, described in a previous news story. But the interim Committee report is disappointing, containing no recommendations to improve safety for pedestrians.

The report notes broad support from submitters for reduced speed limits on local roads, especially roads without footpaths.  Interestingly, this included evidence from Victoria Police that the introduction of 40 km/h speed limits "was increasingly accepted by the community as a mechanism of reducing harm to pedestrians and cyclists, demonstrated by fewer infringements."

The committee noted "the evidence received as well as international research suggesting reducing certain speed limits has great potential to reduce death and injury of pedestrians and cyclists, and invites consideration of this approach by jurisdictions."  Unfortunately, however, they made no formal recommendation to that effect.

To their credit, the Australian Greens provided a minority report (at the end of the Committee report) which makes a number of excellent recommendations, including:

  • Dedicated funding for walking and cycling from the Australian Government
  • 30 km/h speed limits on local roads and roads with a high volume of pedestrians and cyclists
  • Review of implementation measures to improve the safety of pedestrians proposed by the National Road Safety Strategy
  • Better data collection on walking and cycling.

The lack of recommendations from the Committee to improve pedestrian safety contrasts with the recommendation to require minimum passing distances to protect cyclists from vehicles - the 'metre matters' concept. Congratulations go to the Amy Gillett Foundation for their success in that campaign.

The Inquiry is not yet complete, so perhaps there is a chance that walking will also be recognised in the final report.