Location: Victoria, Australia
Goal: Encourage state-wide feedback on key issues associated with country roads.
Victoria is one of the fastest growing states in Australia with predicted rapid population growth, particularly for regional areas.
To accommodate this change, the Victorian State Government sought state-wide public feedback on key issues associated with country/rural roads. The overall project led by VicRoads, aimed to achieve three factors:
- To reduce the lives lost on country road networks
- Grow regional economies through improved and efficient freight access
- Enhance regional Victoria as a tourist destination
"This has been the biggest public engagement that VicRoads has ever done in its 100-year history. Your insights are now helping us put sensible plans to government to support the future growth of regional Victoria,"
- John Merritt, Chief Executive VicRoads
People are four times more likely to die on country roads than city roads. Some major reasons include lack of sleep, distractions and wild fauna jumping out at vehicles and the safety and condition of roads.
In rural communities, more than 90% of daily journeys are made using arterial roads, making it absolutely critical that these roads are safe for all travellers. Along with the safer roads challenge, the Victorian population is rapidly growing and predicted to double in the next 20-years. This means VicRoads also needs to plan for growing tourism, agribusiness and the future of the economy when improving the current country roads.
As part of the engagement process, VicRoads utilized Social Pinpoint's interactive mapping tool to gain a firm understanding of statewide feedback about the project. Ultimately, Social Pinpoint was used to help form a deeper understanding from locals who use the roads regularly about issues such as:
Road safety barriers
The project attracted Victoria-wide-spread attention and very high engagement levels from a broad audience.
The engagement process helped outline common themes and areas of concern. These included:
A number of key messages emerged from the country roads engagements. Some notable themes include:
- Road maintenance - Across all regions, country roads are in poor condition causing many safety risks. One of the key contributing factors is due to the deteriorating road condition and poor road signage.
- Road safety - Demonstrated a need for more driver awareness and education campaigns about road safety.
Future priorities - Country roads need to be upgraded to support the efficient movement, enhance accessibility to regional areas and manage the competing interests of roads users.
Freight and Tourism - Country roads play a direct impact on Victoria's regional tourism and agricultural opportunities. This means the roads must be made to accommodate all incurring traffic including trucks, freight movements the increase in international tourists and cyclists, as well as clear access to all tourist destinations.
Closing the loop - Reporting back to the community
The first State of the Roads report focused on the condition of roads and bridges. The feedback report was collated to identify the key themes across the state as well as the priorities for each region.
In the coming years, the report will be expanded to include roadside vegetation, drainage, bike paths, electrical and other important roadside infrastructure. John Merritt, Chief Executive of VicRoads commented on the matter.
"Victorians told us they want much greater transparency about what is happening on their roads. VicRoads will produce a State of the Roads report to be clear about current road conditions and better inform future decisions by government. And it won’t stop there. As part of Transport for Victoria’s development of an integrated regional roads strategy for medium and long term improvements, your feedback will be considered by the Victorian Government as we prepare projects for funding consideration in the future." - Country Roads Your Insights Our Actions Report.
For now, the primary focus will be on better managing the 19,000 kilometres of arterial country roads which ultimately will reduce the amount of rural road trauma and increasing road safety. The report also comments, "We will be much more sensitive to the environmental impacts of our projects, and have set a bold target to double the amount of tyre rubber we recycle in roads for a start."
VicRoads will continue to engage with communities, industries and councils about their road maintenance priorities.
Noteworthy Social Pinpoints features used in the project map
- State-wide project (excluding Melbourne CBD)
- Separate regions: using Social Pinpont Map Layers, each region had its own URL, and the VicRoads team were able to market the project to local regions. The public could open the map on their region, then pan around to see the rest of Victoria and have their say.
- Searching regions: The map included a sidebar tab called "Find a region," meaning participants could easily click their place of choice and be zoomed into the correct area.
- Clickable map layers: Each region was clickable on the map. This allowed participants to read more information about the location and be given clear instructions on what to do next.