Walking times at several CBD intersections are currently insufficient and need to be urgently extended, according to concerned citizens.
The intersections in question include, but are not exclusive to, Sturt and Drummond streets; Sturt and Pleasant streets; Sturt and Grenville streets; and Doveton and Dana streets.
Young mother Philippa Thomas is worried about various pedestrian crossings throughout town.
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"The lights don't last long enough," Mrs Thomas said.
"It's quite problematic. It's stressful trying to make it across the entirety of Sturt Street."
Mrs Thomas is especially concerned for the elderly, mothers with prams, and children on bikes.
"I would love to have the lights last a little bit longer," she said.
Dr Ben Rossiter, executive officer of Victoria Walks, a charity which pushes for walkable communities, is a strong supporter of extending crossing times at intersections.
According to Dr Rossiter, crossing times are calculated in a particular way.
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"The green time is calculated based on the crossing width and layout, then a clearance phase (red flashing man)," he said.
"Theoretically, the person on the road when the flashing red starts should be able to finish crossing on the clearance phase.
"The clearance time allowed is based on the distance to cross and an assumed walking speed of 1.5 metres per second.
"Studies of older people have found they don't walk that fast."
Dr Rossiter agrees with the assertion brief pedestrian crossing times negatively affect the livability of a city.
"If people find it difficult to cross in the time allowed or feel overly rushed, they may find walking stressful or even dangerous," he said.
"There is a mountain of evidence that walking is very good for individual people and the community generally, so anything that puts people off is bad."
Dr Rossiter is committed to campaigning for pedestrian passages which are accessible to all people.
"Our streets need to work for everyone, everywhere, no matter how they're moving," Dr Rossiter said.
"All kids and families should be able to get where they need to go safely on foot with good paths and crossings.
"Extra time is particularly important for older people, parents with young children, and people with disability to be able to enjoy getting where they need to go safely.
"A few seconds isn't much to ask to ensure everyone is able to walk, be active, and connect with others in their community.
"During COVID, walking is now more popular than ever so we need better timing at crossings to help families to stay healthy and spend quality time together."
Dr Rossiter believes multiple benefits will flow from extended crossing times.
"At a basic level, older people and others with limited mobility can cross the road safely, rather than feeling threatened," he said.
"People will feel more comfortable walking around and able to participate in their community.
"For people who are dependent on walking and public transport to get around, it could be a life-changer."
Dr Rossiter argues the process of changing crossing times is generally straightforward.
"It depends on the hardware of the signals, but often they can be changed very easily in the Department of Transport operating system, just pushing a few buttons," Dr Rossiter said.
If people find it difficult to cross in the time allowed or feel overly rushed, they may find walking stressful or even dangerous.Dr Ben Rossiter
A Department of Transport spokesperson has indicated much calculation goes into pedestrian crossings, adding plenty of work has been done in Ballarat in recent times.
"The timing is set according to the AustRoads Guide to Traffic Management guidelines, and pedestrian crossings in Ballarat and throughout Victoria are phased and maintained to this national standard via a complex and finely tuned process," he said.
"Several crossings in the Ballarat CBD have now been extended and phased for pedestrian movements.
"We are continually working with the council on a range of safety measures to benefit pedestrians, including installing new pedestrian traffic lights."
Angela Daraxoglou, acting regional director (Grampians) of the Department of Transport, is open to ongoing community consultation.
"We welcome all proposals from the community and will continue to monitor the pedestrian crossing times to ensure any changes are safe for all," Ms Daraxoglou said.
For Victoria Walks, greater crossing times is well-backed by research. A key finding from one study revealed increasing the allowable crossing time had a statistically significant effect in increasing pedestrian safety.
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