There are many ways you can make it easier for pedestrians to get around. Zebra crossings, provision for pedestrian crossings at roundabouts, including footpaths in new subdivisions are all a good start. For community members interested in assessing the walkability of their neighbourhoods, check out the Walkability Tool or consider starting up a Walking Action Group with Victoria Walks.
Have you got a good idea? We welcome your contributions and would be delighted to add them to our growing stock of good ideas. Please send all contributions (and photos) to adminthinkingtransport [dot] org [dot] au.
1. Pedestrian crossings
Zebra crossing gives instant priority to pedestrians. There is no waiting time and cars must wait. This enables pedestrians to move comfortably and safely around an area.
There are four zebra-style pedestrian crossings in as many blocks in this busy shopping strip. Motorists are forced to crawl and pedestrians can cross freely from side to side. Cyclists are also frequent. With no off-street parking, this strip depends on patronage by other modes, and a key factor in its success are the pedestrian crossings, giving clear priority to foot traffic.
This pedestrian crossing is built into an extended speed hump. The speed hump is wide enough to accommodate buses. Cars must slow and can easily stop for pedestrians. This crossing is particularly easy for prams and mobility vehicles as there is no change of level.
2. Pedestrian crossings at roundabouts
Cars have right of way over pedestrians at roundabouts. This can make it very difficult, if not dangerous, for pedestrians to cross.
Pedestrian crossings at each arm of the roundabout make a big difference. Cars are forced to move slowly approaching and through the roundabout, and some may bank up in the roundabout.
No pedestrian crossing but a speed hump slows cars on the roundabout entry and exit. This provides another safety feature for pedestrians.
There is no requirement for a developer to put footpaths in a new subdivision. This can make it very difficult for pedestrians. Uneven surfaces may force people to walk on the road. Bus stops are very difficult to get to. Fitting footpaths at a later date can be costly for both residents and the local government.
The Shire of Campaspe has passed a motion through Council to require footpaths with every subdivision. This is to ensure universal access and protect Council against liability under discrimination legislation.
Footpath space is precious for pedestrians. Why not use on-road car parking for bicycles?
4. Change of pavement
Change of pavement material indicates the presence of other road users to motorists. This encourages more cautious driving...
...as does a change of colour. Yellow is often used in Melbourne.
Cobblestones are another surface treatment that can cause motorists to slow down.
5. Make pedestrians feel welcome
As well as receiving lower priority in infrastructure design, warning messages given to pedestrians imply they are not wanted. Pedestrians make little environmental impact and occupy less road space. We could recognise their contribution and value them more highly.
Fencing pedestrians to stop them crossing the road makes it harder to move around shopping centres...
...which encourages jay-walking instead. Pedestrian crossings would suit this site very well.
6. Walking School Bus
A Walking School Bus is a group of primary school children who walk to and from school along a safe and enjoyable set route, accompanied by a minimum of two parent driver/supervisors per 'bus'. One parent 'drives' at the front of the bus, while the other parent supervises at the rear. The walking bus picks up 'passengers' along the way at designated 'bus stops'.
This system encourages active transport for children and parents, increasing physical activity, avoiding car use, parking requirements, congestion and pollution, and also actively combats childhood obesity.
- Moonee Valley City Council has a highly successful walking school bus program which has been operating for number of years.
- TravelSmart Australia, a federal Government initiative, provides a guide explaining how to set up a walking school bus and toolkits to assist.
- The United States Department of Transportation run a comprehensive web resource on walking school buses.
- Moreland City Council also offers a walking school bus service, demonstrating how such a system can be set up cheaply and easily.
Walking school buses entail a number of risks that must be managed, including safety concens, traffic safety and insurance issues, but the above examples show that these can be easily managed if careful planning is conducted.
7. Walking Action Groups (WAGs)
Much like the Bicycle Users Groups (BUGs) for cycling, WAGs are a group of residents who get together to participate in various walking activities and events. This promotes physical activity, an alternative to car transport, and builds community within the area. Walking is also a highly accessible way to participate in the community, requiring no equipment, training or special skills to be involved.
WAGs exist in nearly ever local government area - Victoria Walks runs an online directory of Walking Action Groups on their website, making identifying and start such groups very easy.
Local governments can easily support and encourage new and existing WAGs with minimal funding, promotion and administrative support.