Queensland Walks calls for better facilities - not bans

This week, as an advocacy organisation for Queensland pedestrians, we were saddened to hear of the death of keen walker Charlie Embrey. Charlie was from Burpengary in the South East Queensland council area of Moreton Bay and was fatally hit by a bike when walking on the footpath. Our condolences go to Charlie’s family, friends, and all the people who would greet him on his daily morning walks.

We are also mindful of the cyclist and their community who will be incredibly effected by this accident.

Queensland Walks does not call for changed road rules, nor do we believe that banning non-pedestrians on Queensland footpaths is the answer.

We are unsure of the condition of the shared footpath and what caused this particular accident. What we do know is that Queensland Walks is regularly contacted by walkers of all ages who have expressed their fear and nervousness about walking in their neighbourhood.

Their fears are varied: many walkers are nervous about speeding cars and distracted drivers, bikes and scooters, but equally scared about crossing the road at unsafe or missing crossings, missing footpaths, frustrated with trip hazards, lack of passive surveillance and crime, and more. In most cases, improvements to the pedestrian (and cycling) infrastructure would make an enormous difference to pedestrian safety.

As an organisation we support Queenslanders to be active (to walk, run, ride and scoot and safely access public transport). Queensland Walks encourages councils across Queensland to take pedestrian safety and commitment to infrastructure improvements more seriously, to increase budgets spent on pedestrians and provide safer walking facilities to encourage more people to be active through walking.

Every single Queenslander is a pedestrian* throughout their life - from toddlers learning to walk to elderly walkers after they've lost the option to drive. There is a walk at the start and end of almost every car, train and bus journey. We walk for exercise, pleasure, and as a form of transport. Of course pedestrians vary in age, their ability to move freely, and how easily, quickly or slowly they can cross over roads or move along footpaths and respond to oncoming pathway users. We need to significantly improve pedestrian facilities and safety for all walkers.

We continue to support and encourage initiatives like Heart Foundation’s Healthy Active by Design, Active Streets and Space for Health, and advocate alongside Queensland based organisations who encourage all forms of active travel. We recently wrote to Queensland councils alongside Heart Foundation, Bicycle Queensland, 10,000 Steps, Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation and Natureplay encouraging and calling for improvements to active transport facilities and associated budgets.

Our sister organisation Victoria Walks made a statement this week in the case of Charlie Embrey and referred to their footpath and cycling safety report. It is important to know that in this case, the conditions and road rules in Victoria are different to Queensland, with most cyclists not legally allowed to use the footpath in Victoria.

The International Federation of Pedestrians says that pedestrian road safety “cannot simply be measured by the number of the persons killed or injured. Whether the public space is hostile or inviting for walking has a huge impact on whether people choose to walk. Therefore, walking has to be planned, and a pedestrian-friendly and safe infrastructure has to be implemented.”

Last year, The Queensland Government released Queensland's first Queensland Walking Strategy. This strategy aims to make walking 'An easy choice for everyone, every day'.

"Every Queenslander should have the opportunity to walk and use quality walking infrastructure as part of their daily routine, so they can experience the lifelong health benefits of increased physical activity. When we talk about walking* we also mean jogging, running, and moving with the help of a mobility device such as a wheelchair, mobility cane or a walking frame. We're talking about walking in public places and spaces (such as parks, paths and streets). We have developed Queensland’s first walking strategy. The strategy recognises the critical role that walking plays as part of a single integrated transport system accessible to everyone and as part of a healthy, active lifestyle for all Queenslanders."

Queensland Walks will continue to advocate for healthy and active streets that allow Queenslanders to walk safely, and we will work with Queensland organisations, councils and State Government to keep encouraging Queenslanders to be active.

Queensland Walks is a community based organisation who advocates for more walkable places for all ages and all abilities so that more Queenslanders will walk every day. Our aim is to improve the conditions and profile of walking in Queensland and support and encourage government, organisations and agencies to improve policy and funding priorities to enhance walking. Become a member of Queensland Walks to advocate for better policy and planning to make Queensland neighbourhoods more walkable and more liveable.

Queensland, Australia

©2019 by Queensland Walks.