AGF APPEARANCE AT NSW INQUIRY INTO REDUCING TRAUMA ON LOCAL ROADS
Earlier this year, the Amy Gillett Foundation made our submission to the NSW Inquiry into reducing trauma on local roads. On 7 August, the Staysafe Committee of the NSW Parliament invited AGF CEO Dan Kneipp and Research & Policy Manager Dr. Marilyn Johnson to appear at the public hearing alongside fellow witness Bastien Wallace, General Manager of Public Affairs, Bicycle NSW.
The AGF’s submission, in response to three separate inquiries (Joint Select Committee on Road Safety; Inquiry into reducing trauma on local roads in NSW, StaySafe Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety; Inquiry into the increase in Victoria’s road toll, Economy and Infrastructure Committee) provides recommendations based on evidence and international best practice to improve road safety outcomes and create a safe environment for cyclists, while maintaining an efficient road network for all road users.
While addressing the committee, Dan Kneipp highlighted that “We are currently experiencing unique transport challenges and opportunities due to COVID-19 – this is a once in a generation opportunity to reshape how we live in our communities, particularly how we can make our local streets safer for everyone.
In Australia, just riding a bicycle leads to too much trauma on our roads. In New South Wales, 10 cyclists have already been killed this year. That’s an 11 percent increase compared to this time last year. These crashes don’t just impact cyclists, they also affect drivers.”
Our recommendations, in relation to the Terms of Reference, include:
- Integration: AGF recommends integration of road safety activities across jurisdictions to enable a more cohesive policy approach to transport and road use that included the real costs of trauma on our roads. This can be achieved through the implementation of cross-department grant schemes that include the relevant departments to offer guidance about project development and to provide advice through, for example, a steering group for grant recipients.
- Number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads – impact and progress: While there is an acknowledgement of the trauma and tragedy of deaths on our roads, this small incremental number has become a tolerated part of road use that largely goes unnoticed by the Australian public. Greater investment is needed to achieve the aspirational goals of the Safe System that is zero deaths or serious injuries. We recommend a shift in the language we use to improve the way we talk about deaths on the road to increase community action.
- Another committee: Establishing a Standing Committee offers the opportunity for members of parliament to learn about the key principles of road safety and develop a greater depth of understanding about road safety and the importance of the action needed. However, we feel that in order to be useful, it would need to improve on the current processes and lead to more efficient and effective outcomes for road safety.
- Safe System principles: We recommend a greater inclusion of the Safe System and safe design principles and practices, underpinned by an updated Austroads, in the undergraduate civil engineering degrees in Australia. Also noting the importance of collaboration across governments to improve standards in road safety as there is a direct relationship between the standards set by Austroads and the adequacy of the current road standards.
- Data: This is a critical component to understanding all aspects of road safety and we recommend that greater investment is needed to provide accurate and timely reports of crashes on our roads. We also encourage government to consider how data generated by mobile phones could be used in the event of a crash to offer a greater understanding of events prior to the event.
- Strategies, performance, measures, targets: We recommend lowering the default speed limit in residential areas as an important next step to reducing the likelihood of deaths and serious injury among vulnerable road users. AGF also urges all parliamentary committees to review the work that has already been done as we feel greater efficiencies are needed in government processes to reduce duplication and delays for action that have already been implemented and are realising significant road safety benefits internationally.
- Driver training: We recommend action to revise and update the way drivers are taught and tested about sharing the road with cyclists, through the implementation of driver training programs such as Cycle Aware and Sharing Roads Safely.
Among other members on the panel, Bicycle NSW representative Bastien Wallace offered their recommendations to the committee, “Bicycle NSW support the important work to reduce trauma on local roads that will benefit everyone. We have committed to detailed work on major projects to improve local road safety during and post-construction, to uphold the Safe Systems Approach adopted by the NSW Government.
Bicycle NSW has advocated strongly for the Government’s Future Transport 2056 Plan for everyone to complete short journeys by foot and bicycle. We are keen supporters of increased active travel to school, one of the Premier’s Priorities, and of the Older Person’s Transport and Mobility Plan. Both offer excellent health, decongestion and environmental benefits to NSW.”
AGF looks forward to a full review of the inquiry by the Staysafe Committee of the NSW Parliament and hopes to see our recommendations included in their report for future consideration.