Shanaka Perera: North West ward candidate 2020

Responses to Survey Questions from Shanaka Perera

1. What are your most important priorities to increase pedestrian safety specifically in the ward you hope to represent as well as in the rest of Moreland?

 My priorities if elected would be to get Moreland to devote a majority of their annual budget to infrastructure projects. As politically unappealing it is to talk about something as banal as footpaths, I believe these fundamental responsibilities of Councils need to be world-class before we devote anything else to the largesse of budgetary spending seen in Metro Melbourne Councils of late. That means, I would want the turnaround time to repair damaged/broken footpaths reduced from the ~5 years to a much more responsive system to assist pedestrian safety. I would also like to look at better technological solutions.

2. If elected, what will you do to help reduce pedestrian road trauma in Moreland?

Advocate for better technological solutions like electronic signage  and lighting to inform both vehicles, bikes and pedestrians of potential hazards where these 3 groups might share infrastructure, such as at a crossing. As Councils have jurisdiction over neighbourhood streets as opposed to main roads (controlled by VicRoads), I think it is important for Council to facilitate all modes of transport equally, including private and commercial vehicles.

3. What vision do you have to actively encourage older adults to walk in Moreland?

Better footpaths to prevent injuries, more benches for people to sit down at regular intervals which should also be shaded by trees to avoid heat stress. I would like to see a better planned integration of the public toilet network so older adults can take longer walks along a route that is safe, convenient and has the required amenity to help them, instead of relegating older adults to areas around their home. I live in Gowanbrae and the retirement village has many residents who avoid walking long distances due to lack of public toilets, among other things.

4. In what ways should Council increase its investment in the maintenance and improvements to footpaths and other outdoor public infrastructure to reduce falls injuries?

Devoting more of their infrastructure budget to the core responsibilities of Council – namely – footpaths! This would also mean responding a lot faster if people report a damaged or lifted footpath instead of spraying paint on them to fix at an often much later date.

5. If elected, how will you encourage Council to implement proven street design measures to reduce vehicle speeds?

As we are in a recession, and cars are needed by many people to get to work, often far away, I would not want to inhibit the fast and efficient movement of people to get to where they are going so that we can stimulate our economy faster and get our unemployed people back to work sooner. I would support chicanes as traffic calming measures in neighbourhood streets but not speedhumps, road closures or other obstacles, especially on main arterial thoroughfares.  In Gowanbrae, we are on a hill and most people drive due to the terrain and the lack of a regular or efficient public transport network (primarily a public bus service which has to be booked(!) outside of peak hours)

6. What measures would you implement to stop speeding near schools?

I’m not sure what else could be done; the current system of 40km/h during school pick-ups and drop-offs seems reasonable.    

7. What improvements are needed for footpaths to make them safer for pedestrians after dark?

There is an innovation from New Zealand – glow in the dark footpaths – called ‘starpaths’- which provide passive illumination of the entire footpath at night. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/small-business/news/article.cfm?c_id=85&objectid=11144469 I would love to see this on all footpaths in Moreland eventually as they are naturally replaced especially since it repels chewing gum and graffiti and is powered by the sun! Gosford City Council in NSW installed this way back in 2014 in some of their new footpaths. https://www.governmentnews.com.au/glowing-footpaths-illuminate-big-savings-lighting/

8. The majority of surveyed Sydney Rd. users support the removal of all on-street parking to make way for wider footpaths and protected cycling lanes in both directions. Do you agree with this and if so, how would you work to achieve this if elected?

 I would only agree to this if the Council provided the same (or more) capacity for car parking behind the traders on Sydney Road. When you think about providing revenue to Council in a rate-capped environment, it would be better to either mandate and/or provide public underground, multi-storey car parks that are equipped for electric cars and driverless technology, and thus increasing car parking capacity, providing revenue for Council while also reducing on-street parking to allow for better traffic flow of cars, trams, bikes and pedestrians. Businesses will appreciate the accessibility and patronage, there will be less congestion and risks of ‘dooring’ bikes, accidents with trams or people circling/stopping for a car space and the car spaces can be hidden away underground, behind main thoroughfares.

9. What strategies are needed by Council, in collaboration with the State Government, to introduce a driver education campaign in regard to stopping for, giving way and slowing down for pedestrians at intersections, zebra crossings, school crossings and other hot spots?

Unfortunately there is no way to measure how effective these type of social awareness programs can be from a Council point of view and whether there is a return on investment of ratepayer funds. As a general principle I would only support Council programs that have a clear return on investment rather than allocating money to programs because they ‘sound’ good or ‘feel’ good; I do not want Council to be stretched in trying to allocate a limited, rate-capped budget to resolve every societal issue possible so I think these education programs should be left to VicRoads (and parents of new drivers!) to implement as they see fit.

10. As the local population grows, so does local traffic and through traffic. How do you propose to address the competing interests of different transport users i.e. pedestrians, cyclists, private and commercial vehicle drivers and public transport (trams and buses)?

There is current technology that unfortunately Councils have not explored yet – smart, integrated transportation networks that utilize technology like driverless cars, congestion management and facilitative infrastructure to ensure people can get around quickly, safely and efficiently regardless of the mode of transport they travel on. This is where I see trends heading, where private and commercial vehicles will still be a necessary and quick way for many people to get around efficiently so rather than trying to ‘mode shift’ away from cars, against the trends, Council’s need to work with other Councils and VicRoads to develop a comprehensive plan to embrace the automation of vehicles which will reduce harm in pedestrian injuries, driver accidents, distractions, etc. This will also help stimulate the uptake of new technology