FEDERAL Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese last week released 'Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport', a discussion paper setting out proposals to reverse rising costs of urban congestion and encourage more Australians to use active transport.
The draft report explores how the Australian Government can work with other governments, business and the community to encourage and support walking and riding as part of the transport systems in Australia's cities and towns.
Mr Albanese said the discussion paper looks at a range of ways to reduce the community's high dependence on the car, including better planning, new infrastructure and lifestyle changes.
"Getting more people walking and cycling, particularly within 20 minutes of transport nodes and economic and educational hubs, as well as catching public transport, will not only ease congestion on our roads and improve air quality, but also lead to better public health outcomes," the Minister said.
"Importantly, the Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport discussion paper recommends a cooperative approach, with all levels of government working together with industry and the community to reshape our cities and encourage healthy lifestyles."
The draft report explores options to increase the mode share of walking, riding and public transport through:
- PLANNING: integrated land use and transport planning, such as including walking and riding when planning for land use and transport and designing networks of continuous, convenient connections.
- BUILDING: building appropriate infrastructure for walking and bicycling needs, including the creation of safe environments and pedestrian and bicycle facilities when building other infrastructure.
- ENCOURAGEMENT: encouraging greater participation in walking, riding and public transport.
The Healthy Spaces and Places Coalition, a joint initiative between the Heart Foundation, the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) and the Australian Local Government Association, applauded the release of the active travel discussion paper.
The Coalition said it was encouraging to see the government prioritising and responding to active travel modes such as walking, cycling and public transport.
Healthy Spaces and Places Coalition spokesperson and CEO of the PIA, Kirsty Kelly, said the release of the discussion paper was a significant step by the government as it is the first ever federal report on active travel and shows the multiple benefits to health, wellbeing, environment, productivity and transport.
"Recognition by the Government of the benefits of active and healthy forms of travel is welcome and we certainly support the discussion paper. Our hope is that this interest is soon turned into policy," Ms Kelly said.
Ms Kelly added the Healthy Places and Spaces Coalition was pleased to see the principles of its healthy urban design guide, Healthy Places and Spaces, included in the discussion paper.
The Healthy Spaces and Places document provides information from experts in health, planning, urban design, community safety and transport planning on how to design active, healthy neighbourhoods, towns and cities.
The discussion paper, 'Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport', is available from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport website at <http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/activetransport>. Submissions will be accepted until 31 January 2013.
More information on the Healthy Places and Spaces Coalition is available from <http://www.healthyplaces.org.au/>.