Personal mobility devices a future solution

Queensland walks boardmember Malcolm Middleton.

By Tania Phillips

Brisbane will need to look at creating more walking tracks to accommodate personal mobility devices in the future according to Queensland Walks board member Malcolm Middleton.

Mr Middleton, a former Queensland Government Architect, said the personal mobility devices are set to become more important as the city moves forward.

Mr Middleton, a keen walker, has not long joined the board of Queensland Walks. The organization advocates for more walkable places aimed at getting more Queenslanders walking.

Queensland Walks looks to improve the conditions and profile of walking in Queensland, support and encourage government, organizations and agencies to improve policy and funding priorities to enhance walking.

An incorporated organization, Queensland Walks’ membership is open to individuals and organizations interested in promoting walking for all and advocates for better policy and planning to make Qld neighbourhoods more walkable and livable for all ages.

“I’m relatively new onto the board, but I know for instance the current consultation is engaged with things like personal mobility devices which do run on footpaths,” he explained.

“It’s a very interesting challenge for the future, I think the future will include personal mobility devices for a lot of people, particularly as we go electric and we have battery power for bicycles – but not just bicycles, personal mobility devices can be all sorts of things, scooters and motorized wheel chairs or seats or mini scooters whatever you want to call it.

“But ensuring them there space with pedestrians on footpaths is quite challenging because they’re different modes of transport and there are all sorts of issues of safety and sharing that need good policy. “However long term I think you will find as there is a move to many more people using personal mobility in some form or other.”

He said he sees that there will come a time when more of the road space will be devoted to personal mobility users.

“It gets cars off the road and is a low carbon and high health solution,” Mr Middleton said.

“There are a lot of good things that contemporary technology is able to open up for people who might just have gone for a walk but now days they have many options they didn’t have.”

Mr Middleton, who is an avid walker and tries to get in half an hour to an hour in each day, said he was approached by another of the current board members who he has known for a long time to join the group.

“I had been involved with writing a book 20 years ago called Great Brisbane Walks and that was an interesting experience and one that was very successful in some ways,” he said.

“But for the past 10 years I was also the Qld State Government architect and I’ve always been involved in Urban spacemaking and policy making about the healthy people, healthy place approach. It’s a logical fit to advocate good policy for good places.

“The Queensland Walks Organization really, its about influencing policy more than anything. Its not a membership based thing, there’s not thousands of members. It’s really about drawing to attention at the right levels of government and local government about new and good quality walking spaces.

“It’s an advocacy organization seeking to look after the interests of pedestrians affectively – people who do things on foot – which is all of us. And really reinforcing the value of walking as a health benefit, as a community benefit.

“When we plan and design our urban environments, quite often the pedestrian gets forgotten and the car always dominates. There is a need for stronger policy making for the majority of users of streets in particular of who are pedestrians.

“Brisbane is an excellent city for walking in, its challenging in the inner city because its quite hilly but I walk every single day. I live in Paddington and there are no flat walks in Paddington. But its an interesting city to walk through there are excellent parks. Really Brisbane has a lot of open space relatively close to the city. “

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