Pedestrian Council of Australia
Safety – Amenity – Access – Health

The Walking Class Heroes




Thursday 21 December 2009 

Traders Coerce Council to Put Profits Before Safety

Background:    Since April 2009, 32,577 Parking Infringement Notices have been issued with the help of four pole-mounted safety camera systems at notorious safety blackspots in the Footscray CBD in Victoria.  At the intersection of Paisley and Leeds Streets, the number of offences detected each week has now declined from 1,026 to fewer than 200.  Overall, the safety camera program has succeeded in reducing illegal parking in these dangerous locations by more than 80%.  Now commercial interest groups are applying pressure on the local council to have the camera systems removed.

In a powerful endorsement of Maribyrnong City Council’s parking safety camera program, the Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Mr Harold Scruby, today rejected local traders’ demands to have the cameras removed from central Footscray and described their selfish behaviour as scandalous.

Mr Scruby said:  "Finally we have a Council prepared to take concerted action to protect pedestrians and the local community from the lethal threats posed by illegal parking.  Last year, of the 295 people killed on Victorian roads, 50 were pedestrians.  Two of these tragic deaths were in Maribyrnong.  Road Trauma costs Victoria over $4.5 billion dollars per annum.  Councils do not contribute one penny towards these costs. Insurers and other agencies pay them.  It’s therefore most encouraging to discover a Council which has decided to focus on reducing dangerous parking, rather than embrace the revenue-raising, meter-maid mentality (where there’s no potential for harm) which permeates local government in this country.

"Every law abiding Australian citizen who cares about road safety should applaud the councillors and executive team at Maribyrnong for having the vision and courage to take this huge step forward for pedestrian safety.  These figures are utterly staggering.  They reveal a culture of dangerous parking which is systemic and out of control.  Such behaviour exists throughout Victoria and Australia because Parking Enforcement Officers avoid these locations and confrontation.  They rarely issue PINs when motorists are with their vehicles; most resort to the robotic universal chant ‘move on’.  This simply perpetuates the illegal behaviour because motorists know they won’t be booked.

"However, these cameras have proven, unambiguously, the old axiom that ‘non-enforcement of the law encourages its disobedience’.  Suddenly, all these motorists who have been flouting the law and risking the lives and limbs of the largest and most vulnerable road user group – pedestrians – are being caught and booked.  No more blind eyes, no more lame on-street warnings.  And they are being caught in their thousands.  Since the safety cameras have been operating, dangerous, potentially life-threatening acts of non-compliance have declined by over 80%.  This superb result brings parking enforcement out of the dark ages.  It sets a powerful precedent that other Australian local government authorities cannot ignore.  Technology is the last and greatest weapon in reducing our horrific and tragic road toll.  We must not allow this selfish minority to win this fight.  If it does, it will turn road safety back a decade," Mr Scruby added.

"Motorists must understand that dangerous parking can be as lethal as dangerous driving.  Allowing motorists (including private vehicles, taxis, trucks and delivery vans) to stop or double park wherever and whenever they choose poses an enormous threat to the safety of pedestrians and all other road users.  Maribyrnong City Council is now fully informed of the potentially lethal behaviour at these locations.  The data is irrefutable.   Should the Council now decide to remove these cameras due to pressure from commercial interests, the illegal behaviour will soon return to obscene levels.  That’s precisely the aim of these traders who have no concern for the welfare of pedestrians in these areas.  It’s profits, profits, profits and safety be damned.

"Should the Council succumb to this pressure, it will be incumbent upon the Victorian Government and the Ombudsman to undertake a comprehensive investigation.  No council can deliberately turn a blind eye to repeated breaches of the road rules for fear of hurting commercial interests.  The demand to remove the safety cameras is a demand for an exemption from the law for the monetary benefit of a few.  No government should ever give in to this sort of self-interested pressure.  If these luddites win this fight, what next?  Will trucking companies be encouraged to campaign to remove red light and speed cameras to improve their profits?" Mr Scruby said.