A group of Illawarra-based organisations want to make Wollongong's streets safer for school children, in a pilot that would see more crossings and local speed limits cut to 30 km/h.
Healthy Cities Illawarra, 30Please.org and Safe Streets to Schools have made a joint budget submission to the NSW Treasury to put $10 million towards creating safer, more active routes to schools in Wollongong.
Under the proposed pilot, most local streets would have 30 km/h speed limits, and there would be crossings and footpaths on arterial roads within two kilometres of every school within the municipality.
The aim is to encourage more school children to walk or ride their bikes to and from school.
Healthy Cities Illawarra chief executive officer Kelly Andrews said this would help children meet the recommended 60 minutes per day of physical activity.
Increasing physical activity had huge health benefits she said.
Promoting active transport, Mrs Andrews said, would also reduce congestion around schools at peak times, make these areas safer for all pedestrians, and lower carbon emissions.
She said it had the added benefit of helping people to get to know their own neighbourhood better.
Mrs Andrews acknowledged reducing speed limits to 30 km/h was a controversial proposal, but stopping distances and survival rates were much improved compared to 40 km/h.
Transport for NSW's Centre for Road Safety says a pedestrian hit by a car travelling at 30 km/h has a 90 per cent chance of survival, but when hit by a car going just 10 km/h faster, their chance of surviving falls to 60 per cent.
At 50 km/h, a pedestrian has just a 10 per cent chance of surviving the crash.
Mrs Andrews said changing the speed limit was also a cheap measure to implement.
Mrs Andrews said safety was the predominant concern parents had when it came to their children walking or cycling to school.
She said parents did not feel safe letting their children get themselves to school because of the lack of adequate footpaths and crossings.
Safe Streets to School founder Jon Lindley said children wanted to walk and ride to school but the existing infrastructure and traffic management plans did not provide the safety they needed.
"If we're successful with the submission, we'll be able to ensure there are increased pedestrian priority crossings and footpaths on surrounding school streets," Mr Lindley said.
Mrs Andrews said Wollongong was a good place to pilot such a program, because it could capitalise on the cycling Road World Championships to be held later this year and the city's designation as a 'Bike City'.
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