Health promotion agency VicHealth is applauding Victorian councils for creating pop-up cycle lanes and footpaths, so locals can easily travel by bike or foot when coronavirus restrictions ease.
This comes as a new VicHealth survey reveals three in four (76%) Victorians want local and state governments to adapt infrastructure so more people can walk or ride.
One thousand Victorians were polled about their attitudes and behaviours towards travel before, during and after coronavirus restrictions. One in three (35%) Victorians planned to travel more by foot or bike than they did pre-coronavirus when restrictions ease, but safety was a barrier for many.
VicHealth Executive Manager of Programs Kirstan Corben said it was encouraging to see councils create environments that promote walking and riding for both transport and recreation.
“Since the coronavirus pandemic began, it’s been fantastic to see Victorian councils like the City of Moreland, City of , City of Melbourne and City of Greater Bendigo make changes so it’s easier for residents and commuters to walk, ride or scoot around their communities for enjoyment during lockdown and travel when restrictions allow,”Ms Corben said.
“Some councils converted carparks and local streets into bike lanes, while others are installing more zebra crossings for pedestrians or reducing speed limits. We’re calling on other councils to follow suit.”
The VicHealth survey also found that one in two Victorians are concerned about travel to work, study and other appointments when restrictions ease.
For regional councils, where construction is allowed under the current stage 3 restrictions, now is a golden opportunity to upgrade infrastructure so locals can travel easily when restrictions lift.
In metro Melbourne, where stage 4 restrictions are expected to lift on Sunday 13 September, councils are being urged to prepare to build back better when it comes to active transport and healthy living.
“Our survey shows people want to walk or ride to places like work, university, school or the shops when restrictions ease, but they’re concerned about their safety.
Walking and riding is great for our physical and mental health during and after lockdown, and our environment and local businesses benefit too,” Ms Corben said.
“Making temporary and permanent infrastructure changes can help Victorians feel comfortable and confident about active ensure they can maintain at least 1.5m from other people.
“No one wants to see a spike in commute times and more traffic on our roads when restrictions ease. With coronavirus restrictions still in place across Victoria and so many people embracing walking and riding, councils have a rare opportunity to get their pop-up bike lanes and footpaths ready for when everyone goes back towork, study and other activities.
“Local councils, the state government, workplaces and individuals all have a role to play in making it easier for Victorians to get around when restrictions ease. Let’s work together to build on the healthy walking and riding momentum, and keep people moving."
*About the survey:
VicHealth polled 1,000 Victorians about their attitudes and behaviours towards travel before and during coronavirus, and when restrictions eventually lift.
The research involved a quantitative measure of community behaviours and attitudes to a range of issues relative to the coronavirus environment in which people are now living.
The community feedback was collected in June 2020 via an online survey.
The final sample mix was controlled to ensure it reflected a representative sample of the total Victorian population across gender, age (18+) and metro/regional home location.
The survey attracted 1,000 respondents (771 based in metropolitan Melbourne and 226 located across regional Victoria).
Other key findings from the survey include:
1 in 3 Victorianssaid a lack of lighting was abarrier to walking more
1 in 2 didn’t feel safe riding on roads or near cars
2 in 3 may ride for transport more if bike lanes were physically separated from the road
VicHealth Senior Media Advisor–Shannon Crane: 0432 157 270 [email protected]