The City of Yarra has obligations to:
- maintain a functioning city by avoiding gridlock,
- prevent death and serious injury by protecting the public, and
- comply with Objective 6 of the Council Plan.
Several of Yarra’s streets are already at capacity, while forecasts show that congestion will increase faster than population. If we maintain a ‘business as usual’ approach to investment in active transport we’ll have gridlock on many streets before 2030, which would be a bad outcome for residents and businesses. In addition, most footpaths and streets are not good enough for use by people of all ages and abilities. The solution to both issues is to budget an expenditure of $10m per year for active transport and local area place making.
Value of active transport
In addition to the above, and as acknowledged in the Council Plan, effective networks of active transport infrastructure would also deliver both freedom for people and customers for our traders. Walking, cycling, and public transport (supported by car sharing) are the most accessible and lowest cost ways of getting around, especially for children, elderly and those on low incomes.
Value of lives saved
The Australian Government Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Office of Best Practice Regulation values a human life at $4.5m in 2018 dollars. If safe travel infrastructure thwarted two deaths per year, it would deliver a value of $9m each year.
Business case for active transport
Investment in infrastructure for active transport offers a positive business case, including benefits such as reduced population health costs.
Active transport & local area place making
Infrastructure for active transport and local area place making include:
- 30 km/h superblocks, with through traffic kept to the perimeter;
- Protected footpaths, including continuing at grade when crossing minor streets;
- Protected bicycle lanes on the perimeter of superblocks (nominated arterials);
- Protected intersections for major street crossings; and
- Protected public transport stops.
Allocate $10m per year
Streets Alive Yarra estimates that the budget required to deliver effective networks of safe travel infrastructure is $10 million per year over 10 years. This is equivalent to spending $102 per year for each of Yarra’s ~ 98,000 residents, and is an order of magnitude higher than what we are spending now.
Independent justification for a budget of $10m per year can be collated by tasking Council Officers (or a consultant) to develop a costed plan to build a Yarra Principal Footpath Network and a Yarra Principal Bicycle Network over 10 years. This task could be completed as part of the development of an Integrated Transport Strategy.
Sourcing $10m per year
The City of Yarra has a budget of over $200 million per year, including revenue of $30 million from our streets, so a budget of $10 million per year should be realistic, especially to implement the primary mission of government, which is to protect the public. If extra revenue is required, then various options are available now. For example, if a new class of ‘Flexible Parking Permit’ was created and 1,000 units were sold for $10,000 each then Yarra would raise an extra $10m per year.
The truth about a city’s aspirations isn’t found in its vision. It’s found in its budget. Yarra should acknowledge its obligations to maintain a functioning city and protect the public; and execute on these obligations by allocating an annual budget of $10m for active transport and local area place making.