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Dr Ben Rossiter in the Warrnambool city centre

Victorian walkability expert gives city centre tick of approval

News Article Date: 
Thursday, 3 October 2019

The head of Victoria’s peak pedestrian advocacy group has praised the pedestrian-friendly changes to Warrnambool’s city centre.

CEO of Victoria Walks Dr Ben Rossiter visited Warrnambool recently to see first-hand the changes made during the city centre renewal.

Dr Rossiter said the streetscape, particularly Liebig Street, had changed significantly since he lived in Warrnambool as a child and that the changes were positive.

The pedestrian-priority crossings at key roundabouts, the lowered speed limits and the removal of gutters and kerbs in Liebig Street were significant steps in the right direction, Dr Rossiter said. 

“This is a massive change. It feels like Warrnambool now wants to park people. They want people to stay,” he said. 

“I certainly like being here and I want to stay. I want to hang around.

“Creating walkable communities is really important to create economically sustainable and strong businesses.

“Walking is also the most accessible form of exercise.”

Dr Rossiter cited examples in Bendigo, Canberra, Fitzroy and South Melbourne where pedestrians were being prioritised over cars.

“What Warrnambool has done is really impressive, but you’re not alone. There are cities not just around the world, but around the country doing similar things,” he said.

“Warrnambool is a gorgeous place for walking. Enjoy it. Love it. It’s fantastic.”

Warrnambool Mayor Tony Herbert thanked Dr Rossiter for visiting the city and welcomed his feedback on the city centre renewal.

“What was really encouraging was that we’re on the right track with the transformation of our city centre into a space that makes life easier for pedestrians of all ages and abilities,” he said.

“There is evidence from around the world that making streets more pedestrian friendly is better for people, better for the environment and better for the economy.

“It has been wonderful to see how quickly motorists have adapted to the changed conditions and even better to see older and less ambulant people move around our streets with more confidence knowing that they have more time to cross streets and that there are fewer obstacles to overcome.”

Victoria Walks is a walking health promotion charity. It encourages more people to walk more often and also seeks to overcome the obstacles that discourage people from walking.

 

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