2023 ‘Road Safety’ Category Honourable Mention

Penrith City Council, NSW

Community and Road Education Scheme (CARES)

Photo of a young boy on a bike with a police officer and two men behind him. Photo credit: Penrith City Council, NSW

The Initiative

Penrith City Council’s Community and Road Education Scheme (CARES) is a purpose-built bicycle safety education facility located in St Marys that gives school students an interactive and fun way to learn about road safety.

Council manages the facility and CARES program as the leading entity with sessions presented by NSW police officers and funding provided by Transport for NSW under their Road Safety Program.

The CARES program was created to assist in the reduction of risk, injury and death for young road users and has been successfully running for 29 years at Penrith City Council. It has been specifically designed for Year 4 to Year 6 students, as children in that age bracket are a higher crash risk category of road users.

The program helps to develop children’s road sense, and includes sessions looking at helmets, bike maintenance and road safety. It is a practical, outdoor program, with students participating in an obstacle course before using the simulated roadways to expose them to a variety of real road situations in a controlled environment.

The purpose-built track is equipped with road signage, working traffic lights, roundabouts and pedestrian crossings. Penrith Council has also been able to tailor our program to meet the specific safety needs of our community and vulnerable groups.

In January 2023, our CARES facility hosted a pedal bike and road safety event in partnership with SydWest Multicultural Services which runs a Migrant and Refugee Play Group in St Marys. The event increased awareness of pedal bike and pedestrian road safety for families and provided a safe place for first time bike riders to gain confidence and experience.

On average, 3000 students attend the CARES program each year.

The program not only develops pedestrian and bike safety skills for children, it also fosters an important and positive relationship between children and the police. These positive experiences can have a lasting effect on children’s perception of the police force and road safety as they grow which is portrayed in the many creative artworks Council receives from students reflecting on their experiences and learnings at CARES.

A photo of drawings from children demonstrating the Community and Road Education Scheme. Photo credit: Penrith City Council, NSW

About the Category

The ‘Road Safety’ category recognises local government initiatives which:

  • improve road or roadside infrastructure with a focus on safety benefits including heavy vehicle transport;
  • improve emergency medical response services for those involved in road crashes; and/or
  • address the specific safety needs of vulnerable groups or target specific road user risk factors.

Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:

  • making communities safer and more liveable;
  • reducing the financial costs of road congestion and transport accidents; and/or
  • contributing to reductions in deaths and serious injuries from road crashes.

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