It’s time to start walking

A Wollongong City Council pedestrian plan is looking at ways to encourage residents to incorporate more walking into their work commute. Picture: Sylvia Liber
A Wollongong City Council pedestrian plan is looking at ways to encourage residents to incorporate more walking into their work commute. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Wollongong workers love their cars – around four out of five commuters drive to work each day.

This comes from the Wollongong City Council draft pedestrian plan, which sets the challenging task of getting more people out of their cars and on their feet.

The draft plan includes Census data that shows between 1991 and 2011 the numbers of commuters catching the bus or train, carpooling or walking – have all fallen or remained stagnant.

Carpooling in particular has seen a massive drop of 65 per cent over that time.

 Meanwhile car use – which was already high in 1991 at 70 per cent of all trips – has increased.

“While there has been a fall in the use of sustainable transport modes, such as public transport, carpooling and walking, there has been a corresponding rise in car use,” the draft strategy states.

“The most recent results show some 80 per cent of commuters in the city of Wollongong drive their cars to work.”

The draft plan aims to address the factors that deter people from walking around the city rather than driving.

These include looking to create pedestrian-friendly places and make walking safer, easier and more convenient.

“By reducing commuter’s reliance on motor vehicles, there will be less peak traffic congestion in most activity centres in the city, and a reduction in traffic congestion, air pollution and lost productivity,” the report stated.

The report’s aim is to incorporate walking into a component of a trip – such as walking to a train station or bus stop – rather than it necessarily being the sole mode of transport.

“Public transport plays a very important role in how much walking people do because people walk more at the either end of a trip than when using a vehicle,” the report stated.

Though it points out that 800 metres is the “generally accepted average distance” a person is willing to walk to a train station.

It also claimed benefits in ensuring car parks are located away from people’s offices, which would also bring cost benefits to business.

“Another benefit is the opportunity that is created for walking between the car park and the workplace, resulting in more activity on city streets and greater physical activity for the working population,” the report states.

It also looks at ways to increase the number of children walking to school.

These include developing paths that “will be attractive to the most students and address the most safety risks”.

It acknowledged that developing paths for every school would not be possible.

The Wollongong City Council draft pedestrian plan 2017-21 is on exhibition until mid-September.