Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon


Welcome to the November edition of the Austroads newsletter.

In late October the Austroads Board met in Canberra. The Communiqué outlines the meeting outcomes including changes in the way Austroads determines research priorities and procures road safety research.  

A brief reminder too that the survey seeking feedback about the Austroads Guide to Asset Management is open for another week. If you have used the Guide in the past and/or intend to use it in the future, we would very much appreciate your feedback.

Learning to Drive Kit Helps Remote Indigenous Communities

Austroads is in the final stages of preparing a kit designed to improve driver licensing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living in remote communities.

Austroads Learning to Drive is the result of a project which aims to address critical barriers to obtaining a licence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living remotely.

Obtaining a driver’s licence for Indigenous people in remote communities is essential for gaining employment and accessing services. Increasing the number of licensed drivers in remote communities will also help to reduce road trauma and the incidence of incarceration.

Initially a sample toolkit was compiled from various existing resources known to be successful in pre-learner driver education. The kit was then trialled in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities which lead to improvements being made based on consultation with State and Territory driver licensing authorities.

The kit is designed to be used with people who wish to obtain a learner’s permit and as part of the practical driving experience as drivers progress to provisional licences.

The kit blends theory and practical learning facilitated by the use of presentations, a learner handbook, road mats and a board game to demonstrate knowledge of road laws and signs, the rules for learner drivers, and also driver responsibilities when interacting with other road users. It is best suited to a group learning environment and provides opportunities for student assessment to encourage participants and ensure that they are on the right track.

Austroads Learning to Drive will be available to communities across Australia by the end of the year. 

Australian Cycling Participation

The National Cycling Strategy 2011-2016 sets out the objective to double participation in cycling by Australians between 2011 and 2016. Increasing the number of people riding a bicycle for transport and recreation will benefit Australia by improving health, productivity, the environment and community liveability.

To measure performance towards this objective the Australian Bicycle Council has commissioned a biennial National Cycling Participation Survey.  The survey provides estimates of cycling participation (measured in the past week, month and year) across Australia and for each state and territory.

Key findings from the 2013 study were as follows:

  • 17% of the Australian population had ridden in the previous week and 37% had ridden at least once in the previous year. 
  • 9.5% of the Australian adult population, aged 18 and over, had ridden in the previous week and 28% had ridden at least once in the previous year.
  • Young children have the highest levels of cycling participation: 44% of 2 to 9 year old children had ridden in the previous week, decreasing to 32% of 10 to 17 year olds.
  • 5% of Australian residents had ridden for transport purposes over the previous week compared with 14% for recreation or exercise.
  • Males are more likely to participate in cycling than females: 21% of males and 12% of females had ridden in the previous week. 
  • Those who had ridden in the past week, on avaergae, rode on 2.9 days.
  • The average Australian household has 1.47 bicycles in working order and 55% of households have at least one bicycle in working order.

While bicycle ownership has remained steady in comparison to the 2011 Cycling Participation Survey, there has been a small but statistically significant decrease in the level of cycling participation in Australia between 2011 and 2013.

There are significant differences between the states and territories. The highest rates of cycling are in the Northern Territory and the ACT where around 24% population had ridden in the previous week.

Download the report and state and territory fact sheets.

The Australian Bicycle Council's secretariat is provided by Austroads with funding from the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

Gary Liddle Awarded Austroads Medal

The Austroads Board has presented retiring VicRoads Chief Executive Gary Liddle with the Austroads medal. Gary has been a driving force in Austroads for the last decade and is a deserving recipient of the medal which is awarded to individuals who have made an exceptionally meritorious contribution to Austroads and the achievement of its objectives over a sustained period. This is Austroads’ highest award and is only issued in cases of the most outstanding contributions. We were fortunate to have the influence of his strong technical knowledge, highly developed interpersonal skills and a determination and commitment to making a difference. We wish Gary all the best in his retirement.

A Focus on Bridges

Following European settlement the first bridges in Australia and New Zealand were timber structures. As the settlements became established there was a need for more permanent river crossings, and the first masonry bridges were constructed. The oldest bridge in Australia is the masonry arch bridge across the Coal River at Richmond in Tasmania, constructed in 1825 (pictured above). 

In the second half of the 19th century iron and steel bridges became increasingly popular for major structures in New South Wales and Victoria. Initially these bridges were imported from Britain, often as complete structures ready for erection. At the end of the 19th century the first concrete bridges were constructed, marking the end of masonry as a bridging material, and heralding the era of reinforced and prestressed concrete bridges that has prevailed up to present times.

The Austroads Bridge Task Force consists of jurisdictional representatives from around Australia and New Zealand and considers all aspects of bridge planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance.

The Task Force is currently managing five research projects which aim to:

  • Realise a 100 year design life in an aggressive environment
  • Specify and use geopolymer concrete in the manufacture of bridge components
  • Improve bridge deterioration models, predictive tools and costs
  • Review the ASMS 1994 and the BAG Guidelines for Bridge Load Capacity Assessment 1997
  • Accelerate evaluation of the effectiveness of supplementary cementitious material to supress damaging AAR expansion in concrete structures.

In October the Task Force finalised a project to develop guidelines for bridge barriers. Consistency in the design of traffic barriers for bridges has been identified as a major issue in current practice throughout Australia and New Zealand. The report Standardised Bridge Barrier Designs is now available.

The Task Force also provides oversight of the Austroads Guide to Bridge Technology. Parts 3 and 7 of the Guide are currently under review and new editions are expected to be published later this year.

Next October the Austroads Bridge Conference will be held in Sydney. The 2014 conference will provide a stimulating program to:

  • promote discussion on contemporary bridge engineering and management issues and initiatives, and
  • showcase innovation, progress and new directions in bridge engineering, management, research and training.

The conference is being coordinated by ARRB and will be run in conjunction with the ARRB Conference. We hope to see you there in 2014.

NTC and Austroads MOU to Improve Transport Regulatory Reform

The National Transport Commission (NTC) and Austroads have signed a new agreement to form a common line of action on road  transport issues such as research, policy development and operational matters.

Among the key areas of cooperation will be joint work to help prepare Australia for the introduction of co-operative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS). This new technology has potential to radically improve road safety by enabling vehicles and surrounding infrastructure to exchange information about the location, speed and direction of other road users also using C-ITS.

The agreement will also ensure the ongoing collaboration between Austroads and the NTC on medical standards for licensing private and commercial vehicle drivers. The published Guidelines are an essential tool for health professionals assessing a patient’s fitness to drive. Driver health plays a key role in road safety. As the Australian population ages, these standards will become an increasingly influential road safety tool.

NTC will work with Austroads to identify research opportunities and help develop Austroads strategic plan and annual work program. Austroads will have input into developing the NTC’s policies on transport regulation and operational reform, mainly through research projects.

Austroads Annual Report 2012-13

Austroads recently published its annual report for the 2012-13 financial year. At a glance, the year incorporated:

  • $11.6m work program expenditure
  • 26 task forces and working groups
  • 6 national office staff
  • 166 projects, 46 completed in 2012-13
  • 80 reports produced
  • 11 Austroads Guides published
  • 74,000 Austroads Guides sold and downloaded
  • 56,000 research and technical reports downloaded.

Download the report.

Upcoming Workshops and Conferences

2013 Australasian College of Road Safety Conference | A Safe System: The Road Safety Discussion
6-8 November 2013, Adelaide, Australia

17th IRF World Meeting & Exhibition
9-13 November 2013, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Low Volume Roads Symposium
25-27 November 2013, Cairns, Australia

6th State of Australian Cities Conference
26-29 November 2013, Sydney, Australia

4th International Safer Roads Conference
18-21 May 2014, Cheltenham, UK 

Velo City Global Cycling Conference
27-29 May 2014, Adelaide, Australia

NEW 26th ARRB Conference
19-22 October 2014, Sydney Australia
Abstracts can be submitted until Mon 11 Nov 2013

Austroads Bridge Conference
22-24 October 2014, Sydney, Australia

NEW 10th International Conference on Transport Survey Methods
16-21 November 2014, Leura, Australia