Good News Story - Walking and Cycling Boom Times

The COVID-19 experience over the past months has been one of extremes. We have experienced both the devastating impact on health and wellbeing around the world, and the economic impact of jobs on hold and jobs lost. Of the few positives, there was a significant increase in walking and cycling, as other forms of exercise including gyms and organised sports were temporarily suspended. This sudden change was achieved without a physical activity campaign and resulted in a positive outcome far greater than any health or travel behaviour change campaign in living memory.

The increase in walking and cycling has the potential to significantly improve physical and mental wellbeing, reduce road congestion, be an alternative for short to medium length public transport trips, improve road safety, reduce health care costs, reduce air pollution and increase personal/family time. This all adds up to a better quality of life for current and future generations.

  • To enable future options to be explored, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ) hosted a webinar with a panel of leading experts on 25 May. The aim was to discuss what has been happening, share knowledge and develop ideas to keep the walking and cycling boom times going.

The webinar generated a large amount of discussion and ideas to arrive at a key set of short-term potential actions, as follows:

  • Create an 8-10 point multi-disciplinary action plan to build on the increase in people walking and cycling (similar to the successful approach taken to reduce smoking)
  • Identify solutions to:
    • Keep people safe: preventing the transmission of coronavirus
    • Create jobs
  • Identify opportunities to create major successes for walking and cycling
  • Use a systems approach and framework to bring everyone together:
    • List key asks
    • Develop talking points for everyone to use
  • Develop strategy to deliver and engage professionals, communities, media etc.
  • Use existing governance and Heads of Power structures via Emergency Management Acts to enable local governments to implement mitigation measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus e.g. installing temporary infrastructure to help maintain physical distancing

As a starting point, Sydney, Melbourne and several New Zealand cities are installing pop-up bikes lanes on key feeder routes into their CBDs, which can become permanent later. Bus stands are being moved into what was road space, freeing up more footpath space for pedestrians. Complementary measures such as lowering speed limits in city centres to a safer 30km/h are gaining traction and are being installed in cities in New Zealand, parts of inner Sydney and Melbourne, and are being considered for the Fremantle CBD. These initiatives are low cost, simple to install, and can go from idea to reality in a matter of weeks. Collectively, the measures result in city centres that are human-centred and foster economic activity in highly liveable cities.

CWANZ will take the ideas generated from the webinar, and learnings from actions taken by many cities in recent months, to develop options for Australia and New Zealand.

Craig Wooldridge

Chair, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand

Acknowledgement of Country

The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.