08 August 2015

Our community springs into action on safety

Yesterday was a momentous occasion in West Hobart.  Cate Sumner, a local parent, organised an  impressive gathering of representatives from local businesses, schools, community groups and residents groups to explain our mounting concerns on traffic safety and residental amenity to the Lord Mayor Sue Hickey, Aldermen Anna Reynolds and Suzy Cooper, and Director of Infrastructure for the Council, Mark Painter.

We started at the southern end of Lansdowne Crescent, where reps from Island Tyres and WH Post Office described the traffic conflicts they see on a daily basis.  At this hilltop intersection, students need to cross Hill St towards Lansdowne Crescent school and towards Guilford Young College, and the daily school bus to Taroona High collects and disgorges students.  The Hill St ratrun, the crest of the hill, and clear sightlines across to Patrick St actually encourage drivers to speed northwards through the roundabout.  Observers have noticed that some drivers don't actually brake here, actually they accelerate through the roundabout!!!  Parent Alastair, who lives in Bathurst St, would love for his kids to be able to walk to school on their own, but due to the unsafe crossings on the roads they need to be accompanied or driven to school every day. Yesterday we heard about another accident involving a Lansdowne Crescent student at the corner of Poets Rd and Lansdowne Cres.

At Lansdowne Crescent School, a teacher and reps from the School Community Association of that school, and reps from Friends School and also Taroona High, talked about the issues facing their children as they come and go from school.  Common complaints were the speeds and congestion on the whole Hill St ratrun, meaning there is often no gap between the cars when children and their parents are attempting to cross the road.  The pedestrian refuges installed by the Council (kerb bulbs and median islands) are worse than useless, as drivers are not required under road law to slow down for these crossings, and are actually not permitted to stop and give way.  These crossing installations are truly refuges, not traffic calming measures.  Children and parents are forced to try and pick a tiny gap in the traffic flow and scuttle across one lane, and repeat this risky business to cross the second lane.

At Lansdowne Crescent school, there is not even a zebra crossing, although they do have a 40kph traffic light operating during the peaks at start and end of school, and a lollipop man at these times.  Bill, who had been waiting for the end of school to collect his granddaughter, said he had observed drivers exceeding the 40kph limit on Lansdowne Crescent that very day.   

Residents Cynthia and Bill from Lawrenny Court described how congestion at their corner of Hill St and Arthur St had further increased due to the opening of the enlarged Hill St Grocer, and reported a couple of incidents in recent times.  They feel very unsafe crossing Hill St at the new median island crossing, as crossing the road quickly is no longer an option for them. In addition, increased traffic on Arthur St now means they have greater difficulty crossing there to get to the North Hobart shops.

For those who have come in late to this conversation, the Lansdowne Cres SCA, Lawrenny Court residents and WHEN have been raising these issues over a number of years at West Hobart Residents' Traffic Committee meetings.  The problems and some proposed solutions have featured in recent WHEN posts. In particular, our proposal to trial West Hobart as a safe community, with wombat crossings at critical crossing points, supported by a blanket 40kph speed limit across the suburb, was a key focus of discussion yesterday at these meetings.  All local residents and school reps supported the proposal.

Cate had also organised for almost all WH businesses and community associations to send formal letters to Council calling for action on traffic safety across West Hobart broadly, on top of the recently agreed (and very welcome) measures to calm traffic in the vicinity of Caldew Park.

The Lord Mayor and Aldermen couldn't help but be impressed by these letters and what they saw and heard yesterday.  It is our understanding that a motion calling for analysis of the Safe West Hobart proposal and a strategy for achieving it will be presented at the next City Infrastructure Committee with the support of the Lord Mayor.  Many thanks to Cate for mobilising the community around this issue.

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