Media Release – last chance to ask for a footpath

Canberra Pedestrian ForumThe following is a media release from the Canberra Pedestrian Forum:

Canberra Pedestrian Forum media release

Last chance to ask for a footpath

“This month may be your last chance for seven years to ask the ACT Government for a footpath on your street,” says Leon Arundell, the convenor of the Canberra Pedestrian Forum.

“Residents in suburbs like Campbell have waited up to 40 years for footpaths. Many Campbell residents can’t walk along nature strips, because the Government allows them to be obstructed by cars and gardens. With no footpaths to walk on, they often face oncoming cars.”

“But Campbell is just the tip of the iceberg,” says Mr Arundell. “Many Canberra streets are footpath-free for at least part of their length. Many of Canberra’s 64,000 school children[i] and 10,000 bus commuters[ii] can’t even get to a bus stop without walking on the road.”

The Government is reviewing Canberra’s cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. Planning Minister Andrew Barr says a priority of the review is an equal emphasis on Canberra’s 4,000[iii] commuter cyclists, 75,000[iv] recreational cyclists and 350,000[v] pedestrians.[vi] He says the review will result in “a seven year program from 2010-11 to 2016-17 … that will form the basis for capital works programs.”

The draft plans show new trunk cycling routes outside Town Centres, a cycling link along Majura Rd, and shared cycle paths that in many cases will be converted from existing footpaths. They show no new footpaths in the suburbs where they are most needed.

Some people have simply described them as a “cycle plan.”

The draft plans will be on display from Monday 9 November to Sunday 15 November 2009 on the TAMS website, and at the Gungahlin Marketplace, the Tuggeranong Hyperdome, the Woden and Belconnen Westfields, and the Canberra Centre in Civic. The public comment period runs from Monday 9 November to Friday 4 December 2009.

[i] http://www.det.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/54278/ACT_School_Census_Publication_February_2009.pdf

[ii] ABS Cat. No. 2068.0 – 2006 Census of Population and Housing, Canberra (Statistical Division) “Method of Travel to Work by Occupation.”

[iii] ABS Cat. No. 2068.0 – 2006 Census of Population and Housing, Canberra (Statistical Division) “Method of Travel to Work by Occupation.”

[iv] ABS Cat. No. 4901.0: Children’s Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, October 2009 plus Australian Sports Commission, “Participation in Exercise, Recreation and Sport,” Annual Report, 2008.

[v] ABS Cat. No. 3101.0 – Australian Demographic Statistics, Mar 2009

[vi] http://www.andrewbarr.com.au/review-cycling-and-pedestrian-infrastructure

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2 Comments
  1. Canberra Times: Call to roll out more footpaths
    11 November 2009

    The Canberra Pedestrian Forum wants the ACT Government to focus its attention on the 600km of suburban roads in the city that do not have a footpath.
    The forum’s convener, Leon Arundell, said residents in older suburbs such as Campbell had been waiting 40 years for a footpath in their street.

    Mr Arundell said his own street in Downer was wide enough for almost three lanes of traffic but had no footpath. ”For a lot of people in Canberra, they end up having to walk on the road,” he said.

    Mr Arundell is critical that a review of the ACT’s cycling and pedestrian network, done as part of the Sustainable Transport Action Plan 2010-2016, looks only at town centres and commercial areas rather than footpath needs in the suburbs.

    ”From a pedestrian point of view, I think footpaths should really go from your front gate to the school or to the bus stop or to the shops and that’s the part of the network that is not included in this review,” he said.

    Because the report would prioritise capital works until 2016, it might be residents’ last chance for seven years to ask the Government for a footpath in their street.

    However, Roads ACT director Tony Gill said that wasn’t the case because Territory and Municipal Services had a separate, ongoing program of footpath construction and maintenance to which residents could always make a request.The review was about looking at networks between and within town centres and job centres. This year’s ACT budget allocated $4million for new footpaths and $2million to maintain existing footpaths.

    ”Anyone with a request for a footpath can have it assessed by the department,” he said.

    Mr Gill said Mr Arundell was ”quite right” to suggest the ACT had 600km of suburban roads without footpaths, especially in older suburbs.

    ”When those suburbs were built, the planning view at the time was that footpaths were only provided on the main road that went through those suburbs, the view being on low-volume roads, people could basically walk on the road pavement,” he said.

    The practice in new suburbs was to put footpaths on minor roads as well. Footpaths could also be ”retro-fitted”in older suburbs.

    But there was a priority list, which was constantly shifting as requests came in. ”In terms of the amenity and safety in residential areas, there is a need to provide new footpaths to address what are seen as missing links.”

    Mr Gill said Roads ACT did not have an ”either/or” attitude to footpaths they were needed in the town centres and the suburbs.

    ”Footpaths probably rate as the highest single issue we get commentary on, whether it’s maintenance or requests for new footpaths. It’s one of the issues that occupy a lot of our time so we definitely don’t underestimate the importance of them,” he said.

    Note: copyright of the material in this clipping resides with Fairfax Media. Usage permitted in accordance with the Australian Copyright Act 1968, Section 42: Fair dealing for purpose of reporting news. Source: The Canberra Times – 11 November 2009.

  2. The over emphasis of the ACT government on cyclists – who don’t even pay to use the roads – is appalling given the statistics above, and issue should be raised with the government. However, I personally find the government unconcerned and unreponsive to the needs of the majority, preferring the minority on every occasion – expecially the lunatic fringe. What is the basis of for such excessive expenditures on the past time of a few cyclists given the shortfall in the coverage in Canberra of sidewalks and other normal pedestrian facilities. What is the financial incentive of those in the government to undertake such activities?

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