The proposal is a key recommendation of Council’s yet-to-be-approved Draft Queenscliffe Active Transport Strategy (QATS).
As many as 150 people packed the gallery at the April Ordinary Council meeting to vent their opposition to the idea. A petition carrying more than 1,700 signatures was also tabled.
With community consultation closing on May 1, Mayor Isabelle Tolhurst stressed no decisions had been made - contrary to media reports - and Councillors would be be guided by the feedback it received.
"We are listening,” she stressed. “We are asking you what you think, and we embrace the diversity of opinions we receive. Feedback ensures a strategy reflects the wants and needs of our community.”
The meeting was told the ideas contained within the draft QATS flowed from an initial round of community consultation undertaken in 2021, that included input from residents as well as stakeholder meetings with local schools, Victoria Police, Regional Roads Victoria, Bellarine Community Health and Searoad Ferries.
“What we’ve put into the strategy its about re-testing the community ideas that were suggested by the community. That doesn’t mean it’s a job done, ever, the consultation process is very much ongoing,” Cr Tolhurst said.
“If people aren’t satisfied with them, if they take issue with them, if there are concerns, that’s perfectly fine, but what we’re trying to do is re-test ideas that we heard through the consultation.”
If the proposal is approved, Queenscliffe would become the first municipality in Australia to adopt 30km/h speed limits in residential areas.
Drawing loud applause from the gallery, Point Lonsdale resident Raelene McDonald, who initiated the petition, said it showed a lack of understanding of existing community behaviours.
“When we already go slow in our streets, you don’t have to put a limit on what we can go. We go 20km per hour when there are pedestrians in the street, we don’t need the Council saying you can’t go above 30km… and this is what doesn’t make sense sense to us,” she said.
“On top of that… this is a really active community already and there’s no need for you to keep pushing it to be more active, I think we’re doing a really good job already. It makes it sound like we’re all sitting on the couch doing nothing.”
Responding to a separate question on the need for reduced speeds, BoQ Infrastrure Manager Stuart Hansen said there had been seven deaths on Queenscliffe roads since 1970, including a cyclist.
“Between 2015 and 2021, there were 21 traffic accidents in the borough; four involved pedestrians, four involved bicycles, 13 involved vehicles only including motorcycles.”
Three of the accidents occurred on 50km roads and were classified as serious, Mr Hansen said.
The meeting heard Ratio Consulting was the only agency approached to develop the QATS and would be paid almost $33,000 for the work.
An active transport strategy is a key action of Council’s Climate Emergency Response Plan (CERP), which aims for a zero carbon community by 2031.
In an email to its members, the Queenscliffe Community Action Group (QCAG) expressed concern the 30km/h proposal could derail the strategy and encouraged them to make submissions.
“We agree that the 30 km/hr proposal should not be considered in its current state. But we don’t want to lose this opportunity to support and improve other aspects of the strategy.
“A good Active Transport Strategy will make choosing to walk, ride or wheel in the Borough a safer, easier and more enjoyable option. “Getting it right will be crucial to reducing transport emissions - currently a whopping 38 percent of the emissions,” the group said.