Independent councillor Basil Cameron is proposing at this Thursday’s meeting that councillors adopt a set of Road Access and Safety Principles, ‘to be embedded in all road policy to ensure safe, equitable access for all road users’.
He told The Echo, ‘Despite a substantial increase of traffic on our rural roads, fundamental safety issues are being ignored.’
‘Recently a “road safety” audit was undertaken on Coolamon Scenic Drive for “vehicular” traffic only.
‘$2.4 million was spent on infrastructure upgrades as a result of the audit, even though it made the road less safe for walkers, cyclists and in some cases blocked access for residents and services such as rubbish collection and school buses’.
‘A risk assessment identified an increased risk to cyclists, however none of the money could be spent to address this, because it could only be spent for “vehicle related safety issues”.’
Cr Cameron said, ‘Bizarrely, the only way to get money to make the road safer for cyclists was to wait until a serious or fatal cyclist “crash”occurred, as Council would then meet the grant funding requirements.’
‘$2.4 million is a lot of money to spend, particularly when safety outcomes are poor. Morning walkers, cyclists, children waiting for the school bus, pedestrians without public transport all need safe access to roads.
‘It is not acceptable that the safety of non-vehicular road users is diminished or that access is restricted, especially on rural roads that are the only option for movement.
‘There are other examples of neglect in both rural and urban areas, but perhaps the one that speaks loudest is the grand total of $190 spent from the footpath maintenance budget so far this year.’
‘The Road Access and Safety Principles aim to overcome the bias against non-vehicular movement built into Council’s management of roads. Better funding is required to overcome the increasingly dangerous disparity between vehicular and non-vehicular access and safety. Audits need to consider all road users. Infrastructure development and maintenance should be undertaken in a way that does not make it less safe or accessible’.