Light Relief – Channel 9 News story campaigning for more accessible and safer walking tracks
Three times as many Victorians are searching for walking maps online and Heart Foundation figures show 31% of Australians were walking more during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
Now, Victorian residents and fitness groups are being called on to lobby their local council to apply for a new State Government grant that provides funding to install solar lighting on popular pathways and recreational trails.
Victoria Walks Executive Officer Ben Rossiter is heading up the campaign to call for applications to the $68 million Community Sport stimulus program before they close on Friday (June 19).
“Since mid-March, Victoria Walks has seen exponential growth in the number of Victorians looking for great, safe places to walk,” Dr Rossiter said.
“With so many more people realising the benefits of walking, it’s really important councils invest in good walking infrastructure and that includes lighting. Twice the rate of women than men walk, and for many, personal safety can be a major concern but good lighting can help with that.”
Melbourne-based Leadsun is a world leader in solar public lighting and associate member of Victoria Walks. Managing Director Matt Pollard said just as sporting clubs upgrade facilities, walking groups and residents are now calling for improvements to pathways and trails.
“Many of the recreational trails where people love to walk are in areas where you can’t get traditional street lighting in or it’s too expensive to even try,” Mr Pollard said.
“In most cases, people either won’t use the path before dawn or after dark, or they’ll walk with an iPhone or torch to try to see where they’re going. One for one, solar lighting is more cost effective than traditional electrical public lighting as there’s no need for extensive trenching, no electrical wiring and the power stores in the battery for three days.”
Dr Rossiter said Victoria Walks had supported previous campaigns to have solar lighting installed across Victoria and urged residents to contact their local council before applications for the grant closed.
“Walking is an activity Victorians want to do. You don’t need special equipment, and you can do it with your family, with friends or by yourself and if you shine a light on a path, it’s more likely to be used,” he said.
“We want to make it more accessible and improve walking conditions, so it’s very important residents talk to their council so we can use the pathways day and night.”