Can a sleepy coastal town with next to no footpaths become a harbinger of safety for vulnerable road users?
That is the question being explored on the Bellarine Peninsula, where a Draft Active Transport Strategy for the Borough of Queenscliff has been put to the community for feedback.
Initiatives include the idea of 30km/h speed limits across the municipality. The move which would be a first for Australia, and cover the townships of Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale.
Trials would initially focus on Point Lonsdale where there are next to no footpaths in local residential streets, often leading pedestrians to walk along roads.
A council spokesperson says the trial would not include arterial roads.
Local streets with no footpaths are a common feature of many popular Victoria holiday towns. When populations balloon in holiday periods, safety is threatened by the mix of visitors and road traffic on the way to and from beaches, pubs and restaurants.
Speed limits of 30km/h are the gold standard for local streets and are recommended by the OECD in built-up environments where motor vehicles mix with bike riders and pedestrians.
Lowering speed limits to 30km/h on local streets is also a long-term Bicycle Network campaign in a bid to make our neighbourhoods safer places to ride bikes.
Research shows that the probability of fatal injury rises rapidly with increases in speed. Someone has a 45% chance of surviving if they are hit by a car travelling at 45km/h, but at 30km/h the chance of survival increases to 90%.
"Initially, local streets within the area bounded by Kirk Road/Ocean Road, Fellows Road and Point Lonsdale Road, as well as Murray Road could be suitable locations for trials," reads the Borough of Queenscliff's Draft Active Transport Strategy. "Following these trials, the program should be evaluated and further areas investigated if practical.
The council spokesperson says The Borough of Queenscliff is not at this point just yet. "A really important part of consultation is starting with a blank page. We are really interested in diverse feedback."
The draft strategy, which was developed through consultation involving stakeholder workshops and nearly 500 submissions from residents and visitors, is part of the council's broader plan to move toward zero carbon emissions by 2031.
A survey conducted as part of this earlier consultation found that 55% of respondents would make more walking trips and 62% would make more bike trips if improvements were made to comfort or safety.
Other measures in the plan include completion of the bike path network, including filling in missing links in the Bellarine Rail Trail, and improving bike parking in the area.
A petition opposing the 30km/h concept has attracted more than 1800 signatures.
The Borough of Queenscliff's Draft Active Transport Strategy is open for submissions until 4:30pm, Monday 1 May and can be made in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.