Active transport advocates have welcomed a Queensland government announcement of $43 million projects to improve safety around schools.
“The environment around our schools has to encourage people to walk, ride and scoot to school.”
The government last month announced funding to two projects, the School Transport Infrastructure Program and an increase in the number of school crossing supervisors.
Active transport advocacy groups say the improvements will be a major boost to encourage more students to cycle or walk to school.
Bicycle Queensland and Safe Streets to School both labelled the announcement a great start, with further infrastructure improvements needed in surrounding areas to provide effective walking and cycling routes.
“School crossings are a great investment in the safety and health of our children,” Bicycle Queensland CEO Rebecca Randazzo said.
“The environment around our schools has to encourage people to walk, ride and scoot to school. We need not just safe crossings but also wider footpaths in the 1.5km catchment around schools, so that students and parents can find ways of getting to school that relieve congestion, encourage physical activity, and build resilience.”
“This is a good start but it will need significant investments above what has been announced to make our neighbourhoods safe with footpaths and crossings.”
Bicycle Queensland has been calling for better paths in the 1.5km catchment around all schools, as part of the organisation’s plan to help Queensland become the healthiest State.
“Congratulations to Minister Bailey on this great step, and for listening to local communities who are saying that the trip to school for many families is an important opportunity to build some exercise into their day,” she added.
“Safe infrastructure which encourages people to walk and ride is important everywhere in our local neighbourhoods, but it has to start with the trip to school.”
Bicycle Queensland recently released a video promoting cycling to school.
Good First Step
Safe-Streets-to-School spokesperson Lena Huda said it is great to see the Queensland Government invest in safer school zones and important for further measures to keep children safe for their whole journey, “from their doorstep to school, not just the last few meters”.
“This is a good start but it will need significant investments above what has been announced to make our neighbourhoods safe with footpaths and crossings,” Lena said.
“Thirty kilometre per hour speed limits in local streets would make walking infrastructure a whole lot cheaper and faster to deliver. According to Austroads, lower urban speed limit are the most effective measure to date to improve pedestrian safety.”
“It is great that Mr Bailey also calls for drivers to watch their speed. Speed determines not only if a crash happens in the first place but also how severe the consequences will be if a child should get hit.”
She said four decades ago, three out of four children walked or cycled to school, compared to only one out of four children today.
“Since the 1970s, the number of cars has increased by a factor four on Australian streets and not much has been done to reduce the negative consequences this has on our children who need to navigate traffic when walking to school,” Lena said.
“We agree that it is a ‘no brainer’ to invest in safety upgrades to provide for safety around schools.”
We Ride Australia’s Director – National Advocacy, Stephen Hodge, applauded the school zone upgrade announcement as fantastic news and totally aligned with 3 Transport Priority document launched by We Ride and several other organisations in the lead-up to this year’s Federal election.
The three priorities targeted lower default speed limits and safe school routes, along with a subsidy to buy e-bikes.
The documents was compiled by We Ride Australia and the Australasian Society for Physical Activity, and was endorsed by 11 other national organisations including the Heart Foundation, Amy Gillett Foundation, AusCycling and the Climate Council.
80 Infrastructure Upgrades
Queensland’s Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mark Bailey, said the injection of funds to the School Transport Infrastructure Program would bring at least another 80 infrastructure upgrades to schools across Queensland.
He said the program, launched in 2018, has been incredibly successful at making road infrastructure around Queensland schools safer.
“More than 90 school transport infrastructure projects have been completed, which have protected one of our most vulnerable road user groups, children on their way to and from school,” he said.
“This funding has been crucial in delivering new car parks, pedestrian crossings, ‘stop, drop and go’ zones, bus and vehicle turnarounds, footpaths, signs and dedicated turning lanes.
“So, it’s a no brainer to expand it further, and deliver even more school safety programs across the state.”
Education Minister Grace Grace said the Government is also committing $3.15 million in the State Budget to the School Crossing Supervisor Expansion Scheme, “allowing us to hire 83 new crossing supervisors over the next three years”.
“Our school crossing supervisors play a crucial role in getting our kids to and from school safely,” Ms Grace said.
“We’re delivering a record number of new schools and school expansions across Queensland, which means we will need more school crossing supervisors than ever before.”