The Pedestrian Council of Australia was initiated by a group of citizens and organisations concerned at the continuing lack of priority afforded to the safety, amenity and access of pedestrians by the responsible authorities in Australia.
Expert independent consultants, Keys Young, were commissioned by the Steering Committee to undertake the extensive research and consultation required and presented their report in December 1995. The report was most concerned with the question: "Is there a need for a Pedestrian Council?"
"overwhelmingly, the reaction to the proposed Pedestrian Council was positive... of the more than 100 individuals or organisations consulted, only one person was against the idea of some form of pedestrian body."
Additionally, the Chairman of the NSW Parliamentary Road Safety Committee, Mr Paul Gibson MP, informed the Steering Committee that in its entire fourteen years of existence, STAYSAFE had never received any effective advocacy from pedestrians. In early 1996, Dame Leonie Kramer and Sir Laurence Street accepted an invitation to be Patrons of the PCA and a wide variety of interested organisations agreed to join and support the PCA's objectives. The PCA was incorporated in July 1996 and the Board appointed in December 1996.
The following matters predominate amongst the many issues brought to the notice of members of the Board and its study consultants:
* Speed of vehicles in urban streets and the proposed 50 km/h residential speed limits
* enforcement of speed limits in 40 km/h school zones
* cyclists and pedestrians - shared footpaths
* bicycle couriers
* crossing at roundabouts
* bull-bars on vehicles
* the state of footpaths (or lack of footpaths) within the community
* the design of roads, pedestrian facilities and traffic calming measures
* vehicles parked on footpaths
* pedestrian laws/regulations and signs
* pedestrian education for accident prevention
* phasing of traffic lights
* reduction of unsightly and expensive parking signs through kerb marking
* combination and promotion of public transport and walking as important and effective transport modes
* illegal use of motorised scooters
* intoxicated (alcohol and drugs) drivers and pedestrians
* driver testing
* driver licensing - a privilege, not a right for life
* demerit points for drivers stopping in pedestrian crossing zones
* automatic loss of licence for exceeding speed limit by 30 km/h (as in Victoria)
* footpath lighting
* footpath obstructions - shopping trolleys, garbage bins, advertising signs, merchandise, tables and chairs
* access to public transport
* interstate vehicles - poor roadworthiness and lack of regular inspections
* double parking and parking too close to corners
* enforcement and penalties generally
* regular and nationally consistent driver eyesight testing
* mandatory headlights-on for all vehicles during daytime
* permanent loss of licence for three drink/drug driving convictions
Some Hard Facts
While the social cost of the consequences of past and present transport and land use practices on pedestrians are very difficult to quantify in the areas of amenity and accessibility, there is a great deal of information available on the impacts of road traffic upon the safety of pedestrians. In recent years, there have been many advances in vehicle design which have increased safety for occupants. Few of these improvements are relevant to pedestrian safety. Yet one in five fatalities on Australian roads is a pedestrian. Each year approximately 350 pedestrians are killed on our roads and ten times that number are seriously injured. Apart from the grief, pain, and suffering, pedestrian crashes cost the Australian community in excess of $1 billion per annum (approximately $900,000 for each death and $120,000 for each serious injury). The groups most at risk are: children, the elderly, the inebriated and the tourist. StrategiesStrategies employed by the Pedestrian Council in pursuit of its objectives include: Awareness and Advocacy
* Develop a team of spokespersons able to speak publicly and lobby government and relevant organisations on pedestrian issues.
* Provide illustrations of the efficacy of the 5Es (Education, Equity, Engineering, Environment and Enforcement) approach to addressing pedestrian issues.
Information and Education
* Develop within the Council or in an appropriate research agency a national centre of excellence for pedestrian issues and their resolution.
Peak Body and Consultation
* Act as a peak body for the channelling and fostering of lines of communication between community organisations concerned about pedestrian issues and government organisations with the power to effect improvement programmes.
* Provide a forum for informed discussion of pedestrian issues between community and government organisations.
Influence Internal Planning
* Encourage governments to establish Pedestrian Advocacy Committees within administrative structures for transport planning and transport.
* Ensure that all pedestrian safety, amenity and access issues are properly considered and addressed in all urban and transport planning.
* Conduct an annual national "Walk to Work Day" to heighten the community's awareness of the dependence on the automobile, the state of the footpath, and the importance of walking as a transport mode.
* Collaborate with state and Federal Health Departments to promote walking as a vital ingredient of a healthy nation.
* Conduct continuing overall promotions of walking based on the slogans "Walking Class Heroes" and "Reclaim the Footpath".
* Establish a coordinated network of State and Territory Pedestrian Councils throughout Australia.
The Keys Young report stated: "The lobby or advocacy roles must be separate from government." Nevertheless, the Council's objectives are generally consistent with contemporary government agendas for micro-economic reform and social justice. There is scope therefore for the development of partnerships between the PCA and the private and public sectors in financing the operations of the PCA. It is the ultimate aim of the PCA to establish itself as a "Centre of Excellence" for pedestrian research, education, advice, information and advocacy. The Pedestrian Council estimates the costs of establishing and running such an organisation of this kind to be $1 million per annum and will seek funding principally from:
Federal, State and Local
Particularly insures for sponsorship of specific projects and Green-Slip insurers
But without imposing prohibitive costs for individuals and as this is unlikely to be substantial it is expected that membership will be revenue/cost neutral.
Fund Raising Events
"Walk to Work Days", walkathons etc