Navigating safe active streets

Safe active streets are specifically treated local streets designed with local government authorities to create a safer shared space for people walking, wheeling, riding or driving.

What is a safe active street?

Safe active streets are travel routes on quiet local streets, where speeds have been reduced to 30 km/hr. The lower traffic speeds create a safer shared street space for people of all ages and abilities walking, wheeling and riding, while remaining accessible for people driving.

Safe active streets are relatively new to Western Australia but are used widely around the world. They are also known as neighbourhood greenways, bike boulevards and quiet streets.

Safe active street routes form part of the wider bicycle network, connecting to other bike routes and linking community amenities such as schools, railway stations, local activity centres, shops, parks, and other recreation spaces.

Developed in partnership with local government, support for this innovative form of active transport infrastructure continues to grow, particularly in locations where off-road shared path facilities are not feasible or desirable within the local street context.

What does a safe active street look like?

Entry points to safe active streets have distinctive blue-and-white road patches and 30 km/hr speed limit signs. Bike symbols and red asphalt are typically used to highlight the route and where people should ride.

Safe active streets can either use a raised platform or narrow entry to help slow traffic and alert people they have entered a space that is welcoming and comfortable for people walking, wheeling and riding. 

Other street modifications can include:

  • slow points
  • turn restrictions and/or road closures for motor vehicles
  • raised intersection treatments
  • innovative crossing treatments
  • trees and other plantings, to further improve street amenity.

Combined, these changes not only create a safer and more inviting space for people riding but also increase walking opportunities within the local community.


How to use a safe active street

Various treatments are placed along the safe active street to slow traffic. Bike symbols and red asphalt are typically used to highlight the route and where people should ride.

The road width along a safe active street is narrowed, by either introducing designated on-street parking or a series of verge extensions which allow for tree planting and landscaping. The streets are designed to allow sufficient space for two vehicles to pass at the 30 km/hr speed limit.

Single lane slow points – these are one-way points on the street. The first person to arrive has the right of way. On approach, the person driving or riding must give way to anyone already at or passing through the slow point.

Raised intersections – these can be applied along the route at intersecting roads to slow vehicle approach speed. 

Overtaking – As per Western Australian road rules a driver may overtake a bike rider if there is enough space to do so safely (with a minimum of one metre passing distance), they have a clear view of the road ahead and they do not exceed the 30 km/hr speed limit.

The fact sheet below on how to navigate safe active streets shows diagrams of several situations where people driving and riding on the safe active street will need to share the road and negotiate the treatments. 

How safe active streets started in WA

The introduction of safe active streets in Western Australia is the result of a successful pilot program aimed at providing a safe and connected bicycle network for people of all ages and abilities.

The Safe Active Streets Pilot Program ran from 2015 to 2023, with the evaluation phase ongoing.

Interested in introducing a safe active street in your community?

Early evaluation findings from the Safe Active Streets Pilot Program suggest that safer shared street spaces are being achieved through slower speed environments in the redesigned local streets.

If this is something that interests you, read more about the pilot program or contact your local government authority to find out what has been done or is planned in your area.

Frequently asked questions

Below are answers to some common questions asked about safe active streets.

Remember: when using safe active streets, follow the speed limit, other road signage and markings, and as always, be courteous to other people, whether they are in a car, riding or walking.

Will a safe active street lead to an increase in car and bicycle traffic in my area?

Safe active streets are designed to provide a safer environment and encourage local people to ride or walk in their neighbourhood at least some of the time, rather than relying on private cars.

Safe active streets are ideal for bike riders of all ages and abilities. However, the street context and design, including raised intersections and slow points, does not encourage groups of fast-moving recreational cyclists such as those travelling in pelotons.

Can I still overtake someone on a bicycle on a safe active street?

Yes, as per WA road rules a driver may overtake a bike rider if there is enough space to do so safely (with a minimum of one metre passing distance), they have a clear view of the road ahead and they do not exceed the 30 km/h speed limit.

Is a safe active street more difficult to navigate in a car?

Safe active streets aim to make streets safer for all users including people in cars and those riding and walking. Traffic calming measures and a lower speed limit create a quieter, safer environment for the whole community to enjoy.

Safe active streets encourage drivers that use local roads to reduce their journey time and avoid traffic congestion, to move to local distributor roads that accept higher speeds.

Will lowering the speed limit add to my journey time?

Lowering the speed limit from 50 km/hr to 30 km/hr on safe active streets creates a much safer environment for everyone, including our most vulnerable road users, like kids walking or riding.

Research shows that the risk of pedestrian death rises exponentially with collision speeds beyond 30 km/hr. It is estimated that less than 10% of pedestrians struck by a vehicle travelling at 30 km/hr would result in a fatality, compared with fatality rates of 26% at 40 km/hr and over 80% at 50 km/hr.

While slowing down might feel like it’s costing you a couple of minutes, it could save someone’s life. 

How will people know the road environment has been changed?

Local roads are for local people. It is expected that new road environments will take a little time for users to adjust to sharing the street.

At major entry points to safe active streets there are blue-and-white road patches, 30 km/hr speed limit signs and raised platforms to slow traffic and alert people that they are in a riding and walking friendly space.

Page last updated: Thu Oct 26 2023 4:39:35 PM