Three times as many Victorians are searching for walking maps online and Heart Foundation figures show 31 percent of Australians were walking more during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
Now, residents in Victorian and fitness groups are beding called on to lobby their local council to apply for a new State Government grant that provide funding. It will be used to install solar LED lighting on popular pathways and recreational trails.
As Victoria Walks Executive Officer, Ben Rossiter heads up the campaign to call for applications to the Community Sport stimulus program of $68 million before they close on June 19.
“Since mid-March, an exponential growth in the number of Victorians looking for excellent and safe places to walk can be seen by Victoria Walks,” Dr Rossiter said.
“The investment in good walking infrastructure including lighting is very important since so many more people realising the benefits of walking. Twice the rate of women than men walk, and for many, good lighting is helpful in their personal safety.”
As a world leader in solar public lighting, Leadsun is an associate member of Victoria Walks. Matt Pollard, managing director of Leadsun Australia, siad just as sporting clubs upgrade facilities, walking groups and residents are now calling for improvements to pathways and trails.
“Many of the recreational trails where people always walk are in areas where traditional street lighting can’t reach or it’s too expensive to even try,” Mr. Pollard said.
“In most cases, people either won’t walk along the path before dawn or after dark, or they’ll go with a smartphone or torch to try to see where they’re going. One for one, solar LED lighting is more commercial than tradition public lighting as there’s no need for extensive trenching, no electrical wiring, and the power stores in the battery for three days.”
Dr. Rossiter said Victoria Walks had supported previous campaigns to have solar LED lighting installed across Victoria and urged residents to contact their local council before applications for the grant closed.
“Walking is an activity Victorians want to do. You don’t need special equipment. You can do it with your family, friends or by yourself. If you shine a light on a path, it’s more likely to be used,” he said.
“We want to improve walking conditions so that it is more accessible. So it’s very important residents talk to their council so we can walk along the pathway day and night.”