Advocacy Gets Results: Stepping Up To Make A Difference

I’m feeling chuffed.Young casually-dressed woman showing how pleased she is

Let me tell you why.

Last year, my local parliament began an Inquiry into Vulnerable Road Users. ‘Vulnerable road users’ are us when we aren’t inside the steel of a car, van or truck – such as when we are walking, riding a bicycle or motorbike.

The parliamentary committee called for ‘public submissions’.  That means that anyone can send their views in.

So I did.

Finally, I thought, here is a seriously powerful way of – possibly – getting some of my bugbears about some systemic shortcomings in urban planning, design and construction dealt with…at least at local level…and at least as they apply to the practicalities of getting around with low environmental footprint.

The committee published submissions as they came in. That was good for me because it meant that I could ‘ride on the shoulders of others’. And that was especially handy because I didn’t have much time to write my submission.

As a result, I was able to put together my submission quickly. In the submission I:

  • set the context
  • supported other submissions, and
  • provided extra evidence and suggestions to reduce the vulnerability of active transport users through appropriate infrastructure.

And, given my limited time, how did I gather that evidence?

I made use of my observational skills. 

From walking and riding my bike around my neighbourhood, I knew the location of some excellent examples of inappropriate, inadequate and unsafe infrastructure.  So I went on a walk and took some on-the-ground photos.  And I was able to provide some overhead photos using Google Earth and taking screenshots.

One of the things I illustrated was that off-road paths often direct users onto roads and/or driveways.  This is one intersection in my neighbourhood that provides a good example of what I mean: Footpath ending at top of T intersection

Here, one (downhill) path delivers users into the middle of a busy intersection, rather than  to the footpaths either side of the oncoming road. 

What does the path user do? 

So, imagine my surprise when I saw this:Repositioning footpath for safety

Work was underway to rectify the situation!

Contractors were replacing the dangerous path (that directed users into the intersection) with a new path that directs users to a path on the other side of the road. The workers also told me that they were fixing some other things that I had mentioned in my submission…such as paths without ramps that enable users to easily and safely cross roads.

And the work was being done at ministerial direction.

My advocacy had worked.  And that’s why I’m feeling chuffed.

Now, at least at the local level, it will be easier and safer to use ‘active transport’. (And that means lower environmental footprint and healthier people.)

I will be interested to see if it translates to systemic change and rectification across my city. 😉

Come to think of it, I will write to the Minister to press the point.

As this sticker on a mirror I saw this week put it: ‘You are…responsible.’

Mirror sticker : You are looking at the person responsbie for your personal safety

What’s one thing you can raise with your government or local representative that could make it much easier to reduce your environmental impact?

Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!