Exciting news from Better Streets! We're thrilled to announce a significant achievement in our ongoing efforts to promote active and safe travel for school children in New South Wales. After a series of strategic meetings with ministers, parliamentarians, and participating in pivotal workshops, we have successfully influenced the NSW Government to allocate $10 million towards Active Travel to Schools. This funding is part of the broader $60 million Get Active NSW annual grants program.
A Step Towards Safer, Healthier School Commutes
The funding earmarked for Active Travel to Schools is a game-changer. It opens doors for essential infrastructure developments around school areas. Councils across NSW can now apply for this funding to construct and improve footpaths, shared paths, pedestrian crossings, and potentially develop 'school streets' – zones prioritizing the safety and mobility of young students.
The Role of Better Streets
Our journey to this point has been one of persistent advocacy and collaboration. The Better Streets team, including our member organisations, have been at the forefront to engage in meaningful dialogues with key government stakeholders. Our goal is clear: to ensure that the safety and well-being of our children are at the heart of urban planning and development, especially in school zones. We recommend that 75% of school children should be enabled to walk, ride, scoot or catch public transport to school.
The Future of Active Travel
This funding is not just about infrastructure; it's about fostering a culture of active travel among the younger generation. Encouraging walking, cycling, and other forms of active commuting to school has far-reaching benefits, from reducing traffic congestion to promoting physical health and environmental awareness among students.
Call to Action for Councils, Parents, and Teachers
The first round of funding applications is due by mid-December. We strongly encourage councils to take advantage of this opportunity. But the engagement doesn’t stop there. We also call on parents, teachers, and school communities to think creatively about how this funding can best be used to enhance access and safety around their schools.
While this is a significant milestone, it's just the beginning. We anticipate additional opportunities for funding in the future, aiming to expand the reach and impact of the Get Active NSW program. Better Streets remains committed to advocating for safer, healthier, and more sustainable communities.
Together, let's transform the way our children travel to school, making each step, pedal, or stride a part of a larger movement towards a better, more active future.
The 2023 NSW State Budget was released in mid September. But does it improve our streets or is more needed? We analysed if the budget supports better streets.
The 2023 NSW Budget only allocated 0.13% of the transport capital works budget, or $3 per person every year, for walking and cycling infrastructure across the whole state. This is less than a cup of coffee, and is nowhere near enough to increase participation and safety, despite this being the NSW Government’s objective in its Active Transport Strategy.
By comparison, Ireland allocates 20% of its transport budget to active transport while Sweden allocates 18% in line with the UN’s recommendation to prioritize people over cars in the transport system. Greater Manchester in the United Kingdom is spending £54 per person (AU$102 per person) on cycling infrastructure. Such a substantial commitment to active transport is critical to reducing emissions, as well as improving community health and wellbeing outcomes.
Better Streets would like to see the NSW government commit to $55 per person per year for active travel as follows:
What can you do?
As a member of the public, you have a right to ask our politicians for more funding, and influence next year’s budget. By presenting a united front, our message is more powerful.
Your advocacy matters, and together, we can create the change we want to see in our communities.
More is spent on other transport infrastructure every day than on active transport over two years.
$72.3 billion for transport infrastructure: The budget allocates a whopping $72.3 billion for transport capital works over four years, which is $1.5 billion a month, or nearly $50 million a day. In other words, we spend more on transport infrastructure a day than we do for active transport over two years!
$97.9 million for Active Transport capital works: The Active Transport capital works budget is $97.9 million over 4 years. This is just 0.13% of the transport capital budget, or $3 per person every year.
Active Transport funding as operating expenditure: In August 2023 the government announced $39.5 million for the Get Active NSW grants program which will fund 80 walking and cycling projects in 50 councils across NSW. This is reserved in the operating expenditure budget. This is presumably in addition to the $10.5 million that was already allocated, bringing total grant funding to $50 million for this year.
Call for volunteers to help organise the End of Year catch up in Sydney.
Date: 16 December 2023
Time: 10am to 2pm
Location: Centennial park (exact location to be confirmed)
Bring: Families, Friends, furry friends, music, snacks
Activities: Small group ride, live music, good company and banter
Register on the Facebook invite: link
We're excited to share with you the progress we've made in our recent meetings with key New South Wales politicians. Our advocacy efforts are gaining momentum, and we're at the forefront of conversations that will shape the future of our streets. These conversations are pivotal in encouraging our politicians to make decisions that ensure streets are not just roads but vibrant community spaces.
Regular Engagements with Minister Haylen's Office
We've successfully established a regular quarterly meeting with Minister Haylen's office, the Transport Minister. Our most recent discussion was both productive and promising. We delved into the potential of launching an active travel to schools program for NSW. This initiative is close to our heart as it not only promotes healthy and safe access for our children but also reduces traffic congestion during peak school hours. We provided a range of options for a program in the short to long term, and examples of successful pilot projects throughout NSW.
Furthermore, we discussed setting mode share targets and provided advice on rallying community support for the Oxford Street streetscape upgrade and cycleway in Paddington.
Meeting with Dr Marjorie O'Neil MP
Our advocacy for active travel to schools found a passionate supporter in Dr Marjorie O'Neil MP, the Parliamentary Secretary for Transport. As with Haylen's office we provided further insights on this topic and gave practical advice on how such a program would roll out to councils and schools. Joining us in this meeting was Safe Streets for Schools, along with members experienced in Sydney's Northern Beaches and Eastern suburbs. Their insights and experiences added depth to our discussions, ensuring a holistic approach with practical advice.
Workshop with Transport for NSW
In collaboration with Bicycle NSW and BIKEast, we participated in a workshop led by Transport for NSW on the Oxford Street streetscape upgrade and cycleway. Our role was to guide them on collaborating with us and our coalition members to rally community support. We also provided feedback on the proposed street design layout and offered suggestions on framing messaging and timing for maximum impact.
Upcoming Meeting with John Graham
We're scheduled to meet with John Graham, Minister for Roads and Arts, this week. We're eager to discuss our vision and gain his insights on roads, outdoor dining and the 24 hour economy.
One of our core purposes at Better Streets is to consistently engage with key decision-makers and politicians in government. We believe in supporting them in making bold and necessary steps to improve streets for people. Our goal is to ensure that our streets are not just thoroughfares but spaces where communities thrive.
Thank you for being a part of this journey. Together, we can make our streets better for everyone.
Fairlight community members and businesses have partnered with Northern Beaches Council to host a street party in the village centre on Sydney Road. The slip road opposite the main shops will be closed to cars and traffic speeds reduced from 60 to 40km/h, allowing the village to come together and celebrate local artists, makers, musicians and community groups. There's a packed agenda with yoga classes, salsa classes, and a DJ. Come and join in the Fairlight fling.
Event Date: Saturday 9 September 2023
Time: 10am to 2pm
Location: Fairlight Village Centre, 147 Sydney Road, Fairlight NSW. 10 minutes walk from Manly Wharf or the 144 bus drops you in the heart of the village
Event website: link
The installation of temporary infrastructure such as artificial grass, planters, outdoor furniture and garden games on the road (often referred to as tactical or guerilla urbanism) will be a great opportunity to highlight the benefits of creating additional space for people and improving the safety of our streets.
Better Streets will be launching a new online mapping tool on the day that will allow community members to highlight opportunities to create safe, healthy, people-friendly, climate-friendly streets.
Call to action: Better Streets are looking for volunteers to help with the event. We need:
Better Streets met with Transport for NSW to discuss the Oxford Street project, currently known as the Oxford Street cycleway - link for more details.
Better Streets proposed the following:
To provide support for the project and suggestions - fill in the survey
The new Temporary Delegation from Transport for NSW (TfNSW) makes it easier for local Councils to install pedestrian crossings (and other minor works) on local roads.
TfNSW has recently issued a new ‘Temporary Delegation to Councils’ that makes it easier for councils to install a range of minor traffic works on local streets by exempting these works from review by the Local Traffic Committee (LTC) process - see Temporary delegation to councils for minor works | Transport for NSW (full explanation and list of approved minor works).
Previously councils did not control changes on local streets and required all new traffic control facilities on local streets to be reviewed by the Local Traffic Committee for their Local Government Area (LGA). Created in the 1970s, LTCs are unique to New South Wales.
What does this change mean for Community?
Under this delegation Councils are able to respond to requests for minor works such as pedestrian crossings without needing approval from an LTC. This change removes red tape and makes it faster for a Council to respond to a request and to implement their own priorities. (Note: This change is recent and not all Council officers are aware of the new Temporary Delegation).
How can the Community use the new delegation to ask Council for a crossing on a local street?
People in the community can approach Council with more confidence because Councils can now use the new delegation to seek a faster approval to install a pedestrian crossing, given the request meets TfNSW criteria, without approval from an LTC. The new Delegation only applies under certain circumstances, e.g.: not within 100 metres of a set of traffic signals, only on a local road with a speed limit of 50km/h or less, not on bus routes or within 50m of a light rail corridor. Community members approaching Council should ensure officers are aware of the new Temporary Delegation, and inform Councils officers that they are authorised to install crossings (and 10 other minor works) without LTC approval. Note: Community members should also be aware that TfNSW pedestrian warrants do not apply on local roads.
Other minor works included: