Construction of the City of Melville’s first ever “Safe Active Street” will commence later this month in Booragoon, along Links and Hope roads and Collier and Millington streets.
The new development will link Westfield Booragoon Shopping Centre and the proposed Riseley Street Activity Centre.
The Department of Transport is collaborating with local councils to develop these “Safe Active Streets”, which are roads that have been turned into shared car and cycle routes with maximum speeds of 30kmph.
They form part of wider bike networks that connect to local amenities such as schools, parks and community centres.
Also known as “pedestrian priority zones”, they have been developed around the city, including at the east end of Hay Street, which began construction earlier this month.
Curtin University Environmental and Urban Planning Professor Peter Newman says there is a worldwide effort to “humanise” streets and make them pedestrian friendly.
“This has been exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic as people are having to use their local streets more and more during isolation, for exercise and so on,” he says.
“These ideas have been around for a long time but have only just started to be implemented.”
In the past road authorities have only concentrated on improving infrastructure for cars, Professor Newman says.
He says it is part of a theory called “traffic calming” where speed limits are lowered to help improve the flow of traffic and reduce accidents.
“Slower traffic is better for moving cars,” he says.
“At higher speeds people get exponentially more injured but 30kmph is a real turning point.
“Over 30kmph you start getting a lot more deaths while when it is under 30 it is a lot more manageable.”
Professor Newman says these PPZ areas are much better economically.
“Streets that are “traffic calmed” are better places to go shopping.”
Although some local residents have expressed concern over the development, Ardross resident and mother Nora Ball says it will be a positive change for the community.
“I live right next to where the Safe Active Street is going to be built and I am quite excited for it because during isolation me and my family have got into bike riding,” she says.
“We have a two-and-a-half-year-old, daughter and sometimes we bike ride from our house to Westfield Booragoon, but we have to go this massive roundabout way through the side streets just because it is not safe on those busy roads like Riseley Street,” she says.
“I think it will be a really positive change to have more bike paths and bicycle infrastructure in the city of Melville.”
Mrs Ball says the new street will create opportunity to make memories with her daughter like she did when she was younger.
“It has been life changing getting on our bikes, it’s such a nice family activity.”