21 March 2015

Traffic speeds and volumes in West Hobart

Latest Residents' Traffic Committee meeting, 24 Feb

Margaret and Di attended the latest West Hobart Residents' Traffic Committee meeting as residents and as representatives of the West Hobart Environment Network. Di also represented Bicycle Network Tasmania.  Here are the Council's minutes of this meeting.  It was good to see three aldermen showing interest in our traffic issues:  Jeff Briscoe (who chaired the meeting), Anna Reynolds and Eva Ruszicka.  There was a strong contingent of residents, with four others as well as us (Kay's name was left out of the minutes).  As usual, the residents were there to express their concerns with various aspects of traffic in our suburb. Once again, it was a frustrating exercise, with the minutes only barely reflecting the range of the issues discussed.

Important new information obtained was that there is in fact a current Local Area Traffic Management plan for West Hobart.  It is pretty dated, and we were not provided with a copy, but Angela Moore (Mgr Traffic Engineering) committed to providing an update on the recommended works included in the plan.  This has still not been received, a month after the meeting.

It was agreed by all (as at the previous meeting) that West Hobart is subject to a rat run for commuters from the northern suburbs (Arthur/Hill/Melville/Bathurst Streets), and critical points of discussion at this meeting included the beginning, middle and end of the rat run, as well as the school zone in Lansdowne Crescent.

At the beginning of the rat run, the corner of Arthur St and Hill St, kerb bulbing and pedestrian refuges will be built to assist pedestrians to cross Hill St to get to the new Hill St Grocer shop.  Di's previous representations for consideration for slots in such kerb bulbing to allow cyclists to pass through without being forced into the path of faster travelling motorists are still being overlooked.  Not to mention representations to ensure space is left available for future provision of onroad bikelanes through West Hobart to connect with the rest of the city's bike network.

In the middle, a recent petition from residents to do something about the danger posed by traffic at the Caldew (train) Park was discussed.  New information provided at this meeting was that vehicle speeds had been measured in Warwick St, with an 85% percentile of 51 kph.  This effectively means that the average vehicle speed in Warwick St is actually OVER the current speed limit of 50kph. Of course that means that significant numbers of drivers are exceeding the speed limit here.

At the end of the rat run, there was general discussion about the poor signage to trucks about the traffic islands at the intersection of Barrack St and Bathurst St, and most people had observed drivers regularly taking illegal short cuts around the islands.

Meanwhile, Lansdowne Crescent School continues to have problems with so many parents dropping off and picking up children, parking on yellow lines and the edges of the dirt road within the carpark, and posing risks to other road users.

Margaret and I suggested (again) that Council needs to take a leadership role in addressing these traffic problems through developing a regional sustainable transport strategy which would describe how people could be encouraged to switch to public transport and/or personal active transport such as bikes, and which would include reduced speed limits in our precious local neighbourhoods so that our children could safely walk and ride to school.  In fact the Council's own Sustainable Transport Strategy is currently due for review but there was no indication of commitment to do this.  We thought that this need for more strategic action was taken on board by the Mgr Traffic Engineering and the Aldermen present, but there is no mention of it in the minutes.

Notice of Motion, Infrastructure Services Committee meeting, 25 March

It is pleasing therefore to see that Alderman Anna Reynolds is tabling a motion for discussion at the coming Infrastructure Services Committee meeting (5pm, Wednesday 25 March, Lady Osborne Room, 1st Floor, Town Hall), suggesting that a reduced speed "Playground Zone" be declared in the vicinity of the train park.

Motion:  That Council write to the State Government to:
-          request approval for the creation of a playground zone of 40kms per hour speed limit and appropriate signage in the area around Caldew Park on Hill Street, West Hobart.
-          that the letter explain the vulnerability of children’s safety in this area given the high visitation to the playground and speeds along the road.
-          that if approved Council move to implement the new playground zone in this location as a priority.

Establishment of a lower speed limit zone at this location would be a great benefit to parents and children using the park, and would declare that this is a local community which should be respected.  Are there any other Playground Zones in Hobart?

Do try and come along to observe this Infrastructure Services meeting, and support Alderman Reynolds with her innovative proposal.

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