Parliamentary Committee backs walking

3 May 2024

It has been an exciting week for Victoria Walks, with the new State Parliamentary report on road safety adopting many of our recommendations.

The Economy and Infrastructure Committee has been investigating road safety for vulnerable road users for more than a year.

Victoria Walks was one of the organisations invited to present to the Committee hearings in August 2023 and the final report tabled by the committee this week has quoted or referenced us 40 times.

The State Government will have to respond to the report's recommendations within six months. 

Key positives from the report that cite Victoria Walks in the explanation include:

  • Recognition that the process councils have to go through to deliver safer speed limits is too difficult, especially for 30 km/h
  • Better pedestrian crossings on arterial roads as a priority recommendation
  • Recognition that the give way rules for people crossing at intersections without traffic lights are too confusing and need to change
  • Finding that if walkers and bike riders are routinely required to share narrow paths this may deter some people, especially older people, from walking.

Other positive findings and recommendations that Victoria Walks has advocated for include:

  • Encouraging public transport as road safety measure
  • Prioritising road safety for walking and cycling around schools
  • Recognition that ‘mega-utes’ are a road safety problem. The Committee found “compared with smaller passenger vehicles, larger sports utility vehicles, twin‑cab utes and American‑style trucks limit the visibility of vulnerable road users and pose a greater danger to them in the event of a crash due to their weight, size and geometry.”

While the Committee did not make any direct recommendations around greater investment, they did say that the government should report on the proportion of transport funding allocated to walking and cycling.

We need dedicated ongoing funding for pedestrian road safety and better reporting would highlight the current paucity of investment compared to road transport.

As the report notes:

“The recent statistics on pedestrian trauma warrant specific road safety measures to protect Victorians when walking.”

The conclusions start with a highlighted quote from our Executive Officer, Ben Rossiter:

“Rather than tell them to take care, we need to create the environment that takes care of them.”

Overall, this report is important recognition of the need to better protect walkers and other vulnerable road users and a strong reflection of Victoria Walks’ impact.

More broadly, in an era of increasingly polarised politics it is encouraging to see such a comprehensive, evidence-based, bipartisan report delivered by a Committee representing different political parties.

It has also been encouraging to see good media coverage of the report, most of it quoting Victoria Walks, including: