Don’t build new roads, fix old ones

The majority of Victorians believe infrastructure development should focus on improving existing roads, rather than building new ones, a VicRoads survey has found.

VicRoads Chief Executive John Merritt said the survey of 2,300 Victorian road users also found that while cars were viewed as the most convenient way of getting around, public transport and cycling were seen as increasingly important for the state’s future.

“Only 16 per cent of people felt new roads were the answer when asked if it was important to build new roads or increase capacity on existing roads,” Mr Merritt said.

“That’s compared to around half who agreed it was more important to focus on making the existing road network more efficient.

“Our priority is to get the greatest number of people through Melbourne’s road network in the safest and most efficient way possible, helping them to get wherever they need to go.”

The survey found young people aged 18-29 years are significantly more likely to walk or cycle and use public transport, with a third of Victorians more likely to walk if it was safer and easier to cross main roads.

Mr Merritt said on average, people were prepared to walk for 19 minutes and cycle for 23 minutes to get to where they need to before they turn to their cars or public transport.

“This is really encouraging because we want more people to walk, cycle and use public transport more frequently,” Mr Merritt said.

“We are experiencing a growing population, particularly in Melbourne, and we have to be smarter about the roads we already have so that we can move people around more efficiently.

“We know the answer to congestion isn’t to simply build more roads; it’s about making a range of transport options attractive to Victorians; driving, cycling, walking and public transport via trams, buses and rail.”

The survey was completed in mid-2015, with a new survey to be conducted in mid-2016.

The report also found that 82 per cent of people were satisfied with arterial roads across all areas of the state while 47 per cent of people expressed concern at congestion.

More than 40 per cent of people who live within three kilometres of their local services in Melbourne or regional centres say they would be encouraged to cycle if more on-road and off-road safe cycle paths or bike lanes were provided.

Also, 64 per cent of respondents were satisfied with public transport, with dissatisfaction due to unreliability and cancellations, overcrowding, infrequent services/timetables and danger.

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