Stirling awarded for engineering excellence

The City of Stirling’s unique approach to designing bicycle infrastructure has recently been recognised at the Western Australian Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA) 2009 Engineering Excellence Awards.

Council took out the Innovative Practice in Traffic Safety Management category for its ‘Risk Management of Bicycle Infrastructures’ project.

This project was developed to enhance Stirling’s shared bicycle and pedestrian paths, and to encourage more people to cycle.

City of Stirling Mayor David Boothman said it was Council’s holistic approach to the project that set it apart.

“The functionality of infrastructure is usually considered in isolation, with engineers assessing only the physical characteristics of a project,” he said.

“But in this instance, the City employed risk management principles to assess the physical characteristics of the paths, as well as how the paths are used.”

Initially, Council officers planned to conduct the audit using aerial images and drive by site assessments, but decided that an audit by bicycle would deliver a more in depth analysis, properly identifying the status, constraints and risks along bicycle routes.

City engineers cycled one third of the paths in the City of Stirling to identify any safety hazards and assess how the infrastructure, cyclists and pedestrians interact.

Every bicycle route was surveyed by teams of two, with data manually entered at the end of each trip in a Microsoft Access database.

“This enabled staff to identify any potential risks so that improvements can be made to the paths,” Mayor Boothman said.

“By providing interactive information on the suitability of routes, the user can determine the appropriateness of any selected route or be forewarned of the limitation that might be expected.”

The project identified three diverse groups of cyclists that use the City’s shared paths – the 12 year old cyclist; the intermediate cyclist; and the advanced or commuter cyclist.

Each group faces varying levels of risk and Stirling is currently developing an action plan to ensure that its paths are suitable for all users.