14. Is the posted speed limit right for this area?
- Did you know that a car that hits a person while it is travelling at 60kilometres per hour (kph) is 4 times more likely to cause death than if the car was travelling at 40kph? Therefore, the speed limit should be as low as possible for pedestrian safety.
- What is the speed limit of the area that you auditing?
- Do you think the speed limit is right for the area that you’re looking at? Generally, the speed limit on local roads is 50kph. It is 40kph outside schools on local roads at certain times and in some shopping centres. It is 60, or 70 or 80kph on main urban roads.
If the posted speed limit seems too high or the traffic is travelling too fast for the local environment then it may be possible to work with council or VicRoads either to lower the limit or physically slow the traffic (see 15 below). By removing 60kph signs the speed limit “defaults” to 50kph.
15. Are there any devices in place to slow traffic down (eg. islands, speed humps)?
- Are there things on the street that would help slow down traffic? eg. speed humps, median islands, extending kerbs at corners and planting trees and shrubs close to edge of the road.
16. Are drivers obeying the speed limit?
- If they are not, you could approach either the local Victoria Police station directly or work with council to encourage a higher level of speed enforcement in the area.
Driver education can also be useful. Signs, balloons or other roadside campaigns can remind drivers that there are people (especially older people or children) walking in the area can act as encouragement to slow down and drive more safely.
Driver behaviour is often much better when there are lots of people walking on footpaths and crossing roads. Busy pedestrian areas with slow traffic speeds have low accident rates. One of the best ways to improve driver behaviour is to have more people walking.
17. Do drivers obey other road rules?
- Do car drivers stop when the traffic lights are red?
- Do they stop at school crossings and pedestrian crossings?
- Do car drivers wait for you to cross the road when the ‘green man’ is flashing, or do they try and turn in front of you, or hurry you to cross more quickly?
Often, these things become part of an area’s ‘driving culture’. For example, in Victoria there is a culture among drivers that it’s OK (although still not legal) to turn right as the light changes to red if you haven’t had a chance to turn on the green.
Frequently, car drivers do not stop behind the white line at traffic lights or creep forward before they change which can be intimidating for pedestrians.
That said, cultures can be changed. Again, law enforcement, driver reminder campaigns and encouraging local walking can help.
18. Are cyclists riding on the street or footpath? Is there an on-road bicycle lane?
- Is there a bicycle lane on the road?
- Only cyclists under the age of 12 are allowed to cycle on footpaths.
- Some areas have shared paths for both cyclists and walkers. Cyclists and walkers need to be respectful of each other when using the shared path (cyclists must give way to walkers on any footpath or shared path).
If possible, it should be made safe for cyclists to use the road, through the installation of cycle lanes or other road management devices, so that the footpath is left free for pedestrians.
But where the space is shared, and conflict arises, it can be useful to work with local cycling groups – or Bicycle Victoria – to work out how best to share the space.
Slower traffic speed, reduced traffic volume and more cyclists and pedestrians on a street make it safer for everyone – including drivers, who have fewer accidents with each other.
19. Are there barriers between the traffic and people walking – such as safety barriers, trees or a nature strip?
- Where there is lots of traffic, especially fast traffic, people generally feel safer if there is a barrier between the footpath and the road. Parked cars, trees or a nature strip can act as effective barriers between moving traffic and walkers.
However, this sort of solution needs to be balanced with the safety and security value of being able to be seen from the road when walking along the footpath.