Membership Drive to Forge Path for Better Streets

Sydney, NSW

A new Better Streets active transport advocacy and support group is on a membership drive as it prepares to target the NSW election in March.

Better Streets is aiming to sign up at least 1,000 individuals and organisations in NSW – including actions groups, businesses, schools and health providers – to its active transport coalition, to gain lobbying clout and convince election candidates to support active transport and healthier street initiatives.

The coalition will be urging candidates to pursue several key objectives identified during an initial meeting of Better Streets members this month, including:

  • Adopt kid-safe 30kmh speed limits on local residential streets and quiet neighbourhood shopping streets
  • Build 1,000 kilometres of connected, safe and direct cycle and micromobility routes per year
  • Build or upgrade 2,560 pedestrian crossing
  • Have 75% of students walking, cycling or taking public transport to school each day
  • Build and expand beautiful and thriving streetscapes for local business
  • Funding these initiatives by allocating 10% of the State Government’s annual budget for transport to enhance active transport

One of the group’s founders, city transformation specialist Megan Sharkey, says Better Streets was established to provide a framework to help advocacy groups, businesses, GPs, schools and other organisations move quickly and effectively towards safe, healthy, climate-friendly and people-friendly streets.

“Our goal is to bring all the groups and individuals who support walking, wheeling, rolling and place-making together to create the social movement and political will for the big changes we want,” she said.

“Better Streets will provide training for local advocacy groups to be more effective at ensuring infrastructure gets built and more people join their groups and movements.”

Better Streets Weekend

The group is on track to launch its coalition website on 10th January and will hold a Better Streets Weekend on 11th and 12th February, in partnership with Bicycle NSW and several micromobility transport providers.

Bicycle NSW says the key events weekend will promote cycling, scooting and walking as a mainstream transportation option, to the widest possible audience.

The cycling advocacy group will conduct community rides with discounted entry fees during the weekend.

In addition, share service providers are supporting the initiative by offering a 75% discount off their 60 to 90-minute ride pass for the weekend.

Newly appointed Better Streets director Sara Stace said the promotion would also be driven by a strong social media campaign – on Better Streets social media platforms and coalition members’ site – leading up to the weekend and during the two days.

A US-based shared mobility management platform, Ride Report, is partnering Better Streets to provide an analytics report on key statistics from the weekend.

Further details of the weekend will be revealed in coming weeks.

The founding members of Better Streets, officially launched at last month’s Micromobility Conference & Expo, made several key decisions on the coalition when they met on 10th December, including forming an interim board to lead Better Streets during the NSW election campaign.

Not-For-Profit Charity

The board’s formation was part of a move to establish Better Streets as a not-for-profit charity, to assist with managing existing and future financial contributions to the movement, and to funnel funds back into local advocacy.

Sara said after the election, the board would evaluate the Better Streets campaign, further informed by feedback from coalition members and others, with a view to establishing a more long-term board with diverse membership.

As part of its support for advocacy groups, Better Streets has launched a campaigner’s handbook it is providing to all its coalition partners.

This month’s meeting also set key goals for the group, including the target of 1,000 coalition members in NSW.

According to the board, that figure is partly based on the number of Legislative Assembly seats up for grabs at the March election.

It equates to just over 10 groups for each of the 93 Lower House seats and “we believe there is that much latent support around”.

“There are already over 100 who have committed and more interested,” the board said in a statement.

“We’re focused on NSW initially but we’ve had interest from WA, Tasmania, Victoria and Queensland, so it is clear there is demand for Better Streets across all of Australia.”

Another of the group’s election goals, securing active transport a 10% share of the NSW government’s transport budget, would fund the BetterStreets campaign’s key asks and was also as guided by global trends.

“If you look at what’s happening worldwide, 10% still puts us behind our peers in other major cities,” the board says.

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