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Prince Charles - (QUOTE):
"The whole of the 20th century has always put the car at the centre. So by putting the pedestrian first, you create these liveable places I think, with more attraction and interest and character ... liveability."
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The Australian Pedestrian Charter

This Charter recognises that some people are unable to walk because of a disability that requires the use of a wheelchair or similar device. In this document, that distinction is set aside. All references to walking and pedestrian activity are deemed to embrace those dependent upon such mobility aids.

Introduction

This is a Charter about the simple act of walking, an activity available to almost all, taken for granted by many, yet ignored at our peril.

Sometimes we walk because we have no alternative; at other times because that is our preference.

Walking can be many things, a means of transport, a way of keeping healthy, a form of relaxation, a sport. It can be a gregarious social activity or a solitary opportunity to meditate. It varies with whim and circumstance. Commuters scurry; shoppers meander; bushwalkers trek; power-walkers stride; lovers stroll; tourists promenade; protestors march ... But we all walk.

Walking is one of our earliest individual achievements. The first tentative steps of the toddler are the first steps towards adulthood, the first moves in our lifelong craving for independent mobility. The craving never recedes, even as age or disability take their inevitable toll.Not so long ago the entire life experience of an individual was limited by the distance he or she could walk. A trip to the next village was a trip to the edge. Today, our globe has shrunk and our village is global. But walking remains what it has always been, a fundamental and universal means of transport for us all.

The challenge which this Charter addresses has arisen because we now realise that in today's Australian cities this basic mode of transport and communication must be able to co-exist with, and complement, other modes. Yet the culture and social infrastructure associated with the private motor car has tended to dominate. Through overuse and misuse, the car, seen by many as the preferred mode of independent mobility, has become the greatest single threat to the freedom, availability and simple mobility of walking.


This Charter seeks to:

create a physical, social, economic, legal and psychological context in which more Australians will be encouraged to walk more often and to walk further.
re-assert the rights and freedoms which pedestrians once enjoyed but which are now being usurped and threatened by private motorised traffic and the infrastructure that supports it
promote the personal, social and environmental benefits of walking as a safe, healthy, enjoyable and accessible form of transport, exercise and recreation
encourage the planning, design and development of neighbourhoods in which safe, attractive and convenient walking conditions are provided as a fundamental right
ensure that in the planning of our communities access to basic amenities and services is not dependent on car ownership but is always available to those on foot, bicycle, wheelchair and public transport.

Charter Principles


Accessibility:

Walking is a fundamental and direct means of access to most places and to the goods, services and information available at those places.

Those creating public and private space or facilities must give priority to 'walk in' access which is attractive, safe, convenient and accessible for everyone.

All responsible agencies should respect the pedestrians' inalienable right-of-way on footpaths and recognise the importance of constructing and maintaining them for transport, health, safety, leisure and social purposes.

Access to other walkable environments for recreation, health and fitness is also important in its own right.

Design of facilities should consider the needs of the most vulnerable pedestrians, such as older people, children and those with disabilities.

Sustainability and Environment

Walking is the most environmentally sustainable form of transport, relying as it does on human power and having very low environmental impacts.

Unlike travel by motor vehicle, or even bus and train, walking is environmentally benign. It is quiet; it does not pollute our air or water; and it does not generate greenhouse gases. It does not consume scarce fuel resources, nor does it adversely affect the amenity or economies of our urban and rural areas.

Walking can be an ideal substitute for short car trips, including those to public transport stops. Those short trips contribute disproportionately to air pollution: the more they can be avoided, the better for us all.

Health and Wellbeing

Health is not just a state of life but a valuable community resource.

A healthy community is a walking community.

So-called 'lifestyle' diseases, such as those associated with strokes, heart disease, diabetes, elevated cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, are increasingly associated with sedentary habits at home and in the workplace. Individual and community costs are high.

For individuals, walking offers a valuable low-impact form of incidental exercise as a healthy counter to the sedentary lifestyle. It is highly accessible, available for all age groups, and is a proven method of promoting better health.

For the community, walking is the healthy substitute for car travel, bringing a reduction in air pollution and consequential benefits for those suffering from all forms of respiratory disease.

Safety and Personal Security

A safe environment for pedestrians should also be one that stimulates and encourages walking.

Unlike the occupants of motor vehicles, pedestrians do not in general endanger themselves or others. Pedestrian facilities must be designed to maximise pedestrian safety, but design solutions that discourage walking are unacceptable. It is also unacceptable to ignore pedestrian safety needs whilst favouring motorised traffic flows. Facilities designed to improve the safety and convenience of cyclists should not compromise pedestrian safety or convenience.

Places for walking should be designed to maximise personal security with good sightlines and better lighting, scaled to pedestrian needs. 'Safety in numbers' will be achieved by encouraging more street activity and the natural surveillance of pedestrian space by other walkers and by neighbours.

Equity

Walking is the only transport mode available to almost everybody at any time and without charge.

Not everyone can, or chooses to, own a motor vehicle. Nor is access to a car or public transport always available when needed.

Vulnerable groups such as children, older people, those with disabilities and the disadvantaged are more likely to depend on a combination of walking and public transport. Provision that favours the creation of walkable communities will not only benefit these groups but also the community at large.

Rights must be matched by responsibilities. All road users must be prepared to abide by prevailing laws and regulations but these must reflect the particular needs and vulnerability of pedestrians.

Implementing the Charter

Urban environments can be purposefully created to support and encourage walking. Appropriate strategies to achieve this will involve all authorities with responsibility for the funding, design, provision, maintenance and monitoring of these environments.
Key stakeholders in the fields of transport, environment, urban planning, recreation and health should build and use consultative alliances to obtain commitment at local, state and federal levels to improve facilities for walking.

Stakeholders should recognise and promote the cumulative benefits that can flow from a coordinated whole-of-government, public/private, approach to the safety, access, amenity, health and economic aspects of pedestrian improvements.

Each State and Territory needs a champion at the decision-maker level who will play a key role in promoting walking.

Governments and private agencies should help pedestrian advocacy groups take an increased role in the overview of policy and strategy implementation at a national and state level.

Pedestrian advocacy groups should develop alliances with peak cycling and public transport users groups and with representatives of the more vulnerable categories of pedestrian, such as those with disabilities and older persons.

Developing Alliances/Partnerships

Federal, state, territory and local governments should agree and adopt targets for walking that help to develop sustainable communities and neighbourhoods.

Federal, state, territory and local governments should develop plans to improve the public realm for walking in accordance with adopted targets, including infrastructure funding.

Federal and state agencies should collaborate in the development, continual review, dissemination and promotion of model design guidelines to assist designers/planners ensure that walking is given pre-eminent consideration in the development of private spaces, public open space, neighbourhoods and supporting integrated transport systems.

Relevant agencies should include regular walking as a major component in health promotion/disease prevention strategies.

Federal, state, territory and local governments should identify, nurture and protect those attributes that encourage walking, such as community programs, urban and landscape character, visual and recreational amenity and activity nodes that provide attractive destinations

Planning

Federal, state, territory and local governments should agree and adopt targets for walking that help to develop sustainable communities and neighbourhoods.

Federal, state, territory and local governments should develop plans to improve the public realm for walking in accordance with adopted targets, including infrastructure funding.

Federal and state agencies should collaborate in the development, continual review, dissemination and promotion of model design guidelines to assist designers/planners ensure that walking is given pre-eminent consideration in the development of private spaces, public open space, neighbourhoods and supporting integrated transport systems.

Relevant agencies should include regular walking as a major component in health promotion/disease prevention strategies.

Federal, state, territory and local governments should identify, nurture and protect those attributes that encourage walking, such as community programs, urban and landscape character, visual and recreational amenity and activity nodes that provide attractive destinations


Action - Research - Monitoring

All governments should review current regulatory and funding frameworks that impact on their ability to improve the amenity, convenience and safety of pedestrians.

Those agencies implementing projects and programs should monitor pedestrian activity (before, during, after) and report widely on the results and benefits.

State and local governments should coordinate monitoring of the general level of walking activity in support of research and measures to increase that activity.

Governments at all levels should encourage and support relevant agencies to undertake and publicise research into health, recreation, safety, amenity and environmental issues concerning walking (including the impacts of motorised transport) and the economic, social and health benefits of walking.

Institutional Funding

Commitments should be made on a whole-of-government basis by federal, state, territory, and local governments through key implementing agencies (and those directly affected, such as health and environment) to:
develop policies to support greater pedestrian activity for transport and recreation
endorse targets for greater pedestrian activity in their areas
require implementing agencies obtaining state/federal funding for roads, transport etc to undertake pedestrian improvement audits & undertake specific improvement measures as a part of their responsibilities
report bi-annually on the state of the pedestrian environment and recommend improvement.
develop best practice provisions and approaches to the improvement of pedestrian access, safety and amenity.

Communication - Education - Motivation

Stakeholders should encourage the development and implementation of behavioural change programs targeting the increase in walking and the promotion of more considerate behaviour by all road users.

Governments and private agencies should encourage public awareness campaigns that highlight both the benefits of walking and the benefits of providing quality facilities. These should also highlight the individual actions that can be taken to alleviate the adverse environmental and health effects of motorised transport.

Governments and private agencies should disseminate information on the benefits of walking both as a healthy recreational activity and as an efficient and sustainable mode of transport, particularly for short trips.

Governments and responsible authorities should create and fund programs for signage, maps and publications to inform the public of the availability of pedestrian routes and networks.

Responsible authorities should report on and promote the use of best practice programs that have proved to be effective in increasing walking.

Declaration

The delegates to the First National Pedestrian Summit held in Sydney, Australia, in September 1999, as participants of the Australian Pedestrian Charter, commend this Charter for adoption and incorporation in the policies and practices of all relevant agencies.

The delegates, in supporting this Charter, do not necessarily represent the views of their agencies or organisations.

Agencies - Organisations

The Australian Pedestrian Charter is the product of the National Pedestrian Summit held in Sydney on 23 & 24 September 1999.

The Pedestrian Council of Australia gratefully acknowledges sponsorship of the Summit by:

Alitalia, Concorde International Travel, Motor Accident Authority of NSW, NRMA, NSW Department of Health, NSW Department of Transport, NSW Roads and Traffic Authority, RACV.

And the support of:

NSW Department of Urban Affairs and Planning, Department of Veterans Affairs, City of Sydney, Federation of Parents and Citizens Association, Keys Young Pty Ltd.