The primary mission of government is to protect the public.

New York City – Vision Zero

Vision Zero

People prefer to visit and use places that are safe. For this reason New York implemented Vision Zero – where no loss of life or serious injury is considered acceptable. This methodology accepts that people can make mistakes – and therefore our streets should be designed so that small mistakes do not lead to the death or serious injury of other road users.

Image credit: New York City

Victoria has adopted Towards Zero, a similar vision for a future free of deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

Image credit: Towards Zero

Yarra has adopted their version of Towards Zero, a Council plan to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2026.

Parliamentary Inquiry

The Victorian Towards Zero approach builds upon the Victorian Road Safety Committee’s recommendation (#28 in their 2006 report on driver distraction) for an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) approach. Broadly, an OH&S approach has four key steps:

  1. Identify the hazards; e.g. people in cars opening their doors into the path of other road users (dooring)
  2. Assess the risks; e.g. if a person is doored, is there a risk of death or serious injury?
  3. Control the risks using the Hierarchy of Controls (see below); e.g. separate cyclists into a protected bicycle lane
  4. Monitor the solutions; e.g. a year after building a protected bicycle lane, have deaths or serious injuries been eliminated?

The Hierarchy of Controls states that the best ways to control risks is to eliminate, substitute or isolate the hazard. Examples include reducing the quantity and speed of cars by filtering within superblocks, and separating cyclists on shopping streets into their own protected bicycle lane.

Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra, following NIOSH

Safe System

Safe System forms the core of Australia’s National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020 and Victoria’s 2013-2022 Victorian Road Safety Strategy.

Safe System in Europe

This video describes how European cities have implemented Safe System:

Safe System in Victoria

In Victoria, all new major road projects must have a Safe System assessment. Streets Alive Yarra has conducted a Safe System assessment of a typical tram-based shopping street in Melbourne, comparing the existing conditions with various design treatments, including the ‘Melbourne Shopping Street‘ reference design:

The assessment concluded that the ‘Melbourne Shopping Street’ reference design is best aligned with Safe System, and offers superior outcomes for people walking, cycling or using the tram.

Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra and

Corroboration from VicRoads

VicRoads also conducted a Safe System assessment of a tram based shopping street, examining Sydney Road in the City of Moreland.

Image credit: VicRoads

Their report corroborated the results of Streets Alive Yarra’s assessment; also concluding that the ‘Melbourne Shopping Street’ reference design (called ‘Option 3’ in their report) is best aligned with Safe System:

Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra, VicRoads

Safe System audits in Yarra

Council has conducted a Safe System audit for the proposed ‘iterative trial’ of bicycle lanes in Elizabeth Street. We applaud Council for using Safe System, and look forward to similar audits for all future street redesign projects.

Safe System audit for Elizabeth Street. Source: Council agenda 3rd December 2019.

Road Safety Star Ratings

Star ratings provide an easy way for people to understand how safe their local street is. The RACV supports safety ratings for roads, and supports AusRAP, the Australian Road Assessment Program.

Image credit: RACV
Image credit: AusRAP
Image credit: iRAP

So far, RACV and the Australian Automobile Association have assessed Victorian highways. They called for all 1-star and 2-star sections of highway to be upgraded to at least 3-star. The next step is to star rate streets in Melbourne and Yarra.

Image credit: Australian Automobile Association

Star rating in Yarra

Yarra’s Safe Travel Strategy 2016-2026 includes an action to use AusRAP to assess the safety of all roads in Yarra.

Source: Safe Travel Strategy 2016-2026

The Safe Travel Strategy 2019 Progress Report (presented to Council on 3rd December 2019) shows that internal consultation is scheduled to begin in 2021 with the action to be completed by 2023. This will be a valuable report, helping ratepayers to understand why improvements are required and helping Council to prioritise investment.

Source: Safe Travel Strategy 2019 Progress Report