Common Walkability Issues
Note: we use the word footpath to describe the paved (with concrete, bitumen, or pavers) path, as opposed to the verge, which is the space between the road and the property boundary
Footpaths are really important because they make it easier for people of all ages and abilities to walk. Unstable surfaces make it less safe for elderley and very difficult for those with prams or wheelchairs. They also provide a better walking surface in the rain.
Footpaths on both sides of the street provides options and means that people don’t have to cross the road to walk on a footpath. Busy areas should always have footpaths on both sides of the street.
Cars parked anywhere on the verge can obstruct walking, sometimes requiring a detour off the footpath, and sometimes dangerously onto the road.
Even if cars aren’t parked over the footpath, their weight compresses the ground, making it harder for grass and tree roots to grow. It’s illegal throughout Queensland.
Fast traffic affects walking in three main ways:
- The faster a vehicle is travelling, the more time it takes for a driver to react and slow down. In other words, a faster car is more likely to hit something or someone.
- The faster a vehicle is going if it hits someone, the more damage it’s likely to do. [insert graphic of survivability]
- People are less likely to walk near fast traffic because they feel unsafe. This means parents don’t let their kids play on footpaths, and what were once pleasant high streets for shopping are now generally unpleasant areas. [insert picture of somewhere like Ipswich Rd, or Gympie Road]. Fast traffic also means that the area is often noisy.
Lower speeds make it safer and more pleasant to walk.
You can find out resources here:
- Victoria Walks info on safe speed.https://www.victoriawalks.org.au/safe_speed/
- Heart Foundation resource on reducing speeds.https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/getmedia/c771e0c2-8628-46d3-97c5-9ab2585c6114/ReduceSpeed.pdf
- Transport and Main Roads information on Speed Limits https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/-/media/busind/techstdpubs/Traffic-management/Traffic-and-Road-Use-Management-manual-TRUM/Volume-2/Volume2Part3.pdf?la=en
- Reviews of speed limits can be undertaken by a joint Council and State Government. https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/business-industry/Business-with-us/Speed-limit-setting
If you think the speed limit in your neighbourhood is too high, you can ask your local representative to ask for a review. This may be more successful if the area has high levels of people walking and/or cycling, called a High Active Transport User Area (HATUA).
Traffic speeds can be regulated by changing the speed limit, but changing the road environment (though things such as trees, kerb build outs, narrowing lanes) is more effective as people naturally drive slower in these areas.
Why can’t people just drive?
Not everyone has a drivers licence or is eligible to apply.
People under 17 aren’t legally allowed to drive. Some people have impairments or disabilities that prevent them from driving. Some people have had their licence suspended or revoked. Some people have never learned.
Some people don’t want to drive. They might prefer not to for various reasons, such as a desire to minimise their impact on the environment, or it might be too stressful for them.
Some people can’t afford a car. When you add up repayments, insurance, fuel and maintenance, owning a car isn’t cheap. Unfortunately, most of our towns and cities have been built so that a car is a necessity for most people.
Our aim is to ensure that everyone can get around easily by walking, and easily walk to the bus or train so that they can travel longer distances.