QUESTION: Safe walking and cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic

In Question Time, Mark asked the Minister for Trade and Investment, representing the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, how the Government will respond to an open letter calling on state governments to enable safe walking and cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.


The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Last week, doctors, nurses, public health and transport researchers, health promotion organisations and industry groups wrote an open letter calling on state governments to enable safe walking and cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.

A letter with 100 signatories called for infrastructure to enable safer walking and cycling. This letter was supported by key organisations including the Heart Foundation, the Public Health Association of Australia, the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, the Australasian College of Road Safety, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee, and the Committee for Adelaide. I note that the signatories were part of a press release that went out last week, and I will just read two paragraphs:

Australian Health and Transport experts have today called on decision makers to enact urgent measures to support safe walking and cycling and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian Government has recognised the importance of remaining physically active during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has listed exercise as one of four essential activities. As a result, many Australians have been getting active across the country by walking and cycling, but many areas lack sufficient space required to maintain critical physical separation.

Across the world we are seeing many examples where jurisdictions are rapidly rolling out infrastructure that enables social distancing when cycling and walking. Many jurisdictions are reallocating road space to walkers and cyclists using low-cost methods. They are slowing speeds in neighbourhoods, they are closing off streets for play, and they are prioritising funds for these projects.

My questions to the Minister for Transport are:

1. How will the Government respond to this letter?

2. How will it respond to the urgent need for connected and safe networks of walking and cycling infrastructure in South Australia?

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Minister for Trade and Investment): I thank the honourable member for his question and his very longstanding interest in especially cycling but walking as well. I will refer that question to my colleague the Hon. Stephan Knoll in another place and bring back a reply.