31 January 2016

West Hobart Local Area Traffic Investigation

Regular blog readers may remember our last update on traffic and road safety issues in West Hobart (10 November).  Council asked consultants MRCagney to investigate the issues the residents were raising and to provide a report.

The MRCagney report “West Hobart Local Area Traffic Investigation” [22 December 2015] was included in the agenda for the City Infrastructure Committee meeting of Wednesday 27 January, together with some recommendations in response from Council staff.  

You can find the agenda and print out the report (pp41-69 of the full agenda) from this link.  We strongly encourage you to take a close look at the analysis and recommendations of these Melbourne-based urban planning and transport consultants.  There are some important findings and recommendations made. If you have trouble printing the report, contact us as we may have some hard copies available.

Following approaches from WH residents, the City Infrastructure Committee agreed to defer consideration of this report until the next meeting of the Committee, which will be on Wednesday 24 February.  Between then and now, they will seek to have the principal consultant involved, Steven Burgess, present and explain his findings to all Aldermen.

The report’s main recommendation aimed at making it safer for residents of all ages to cross  busy Hill St is to install traffic signals at two points:  at the Hill and Arthur St intersection, and at the Hill and Patrick St intersection (currently a roundabout). Importantly, the signals will provide inviting, formalised crossings at the signalised intersections themselves, “where current pedestrian outcomes are poor”.

In addition, establishing these two sets of signals would break up the flow of traffic into “platoons” along both major and minor roads.  Breaking up the continual flow of traffic would offer quiet periods in which pedestrians could cross Hill St more easily, especially during peak times.  The mid block crossing points could also be improved to become more attractive and feel a lot safer than the current “pedestrian refuge” crossing points.

Installation of the traffic signals would also create a safer environment for cyclists in West Hobart.

The consultants provided guidelines used in Victoria and Queensland for installation of zebra crossings.  Interestingly, the report identifies that there are intersections along Hill St that approach the pedestrian demand levels required for a zebra crossing at peak periods (MRCagney Report 3.3.2). This issue deserves greater consideration as an interim solution during peak hour traffic.

Strangely, the consultants do not appear to agree with the residents’ view that West Hobart is a residential area and should not have a connector route running through it and a general speed limit of 50kph. Given that Council has undertaken to look at reducing speed limits in residential communities across Hobart, in line with regular practice in communities in Melbourne for example, this advice should cause some concern.  

It is also of concern that the report does not agree with the Council’s decision to reduce speed limits in the vicinity of Caldew Park.   We are a little alarmed that this decision may be reviewed and retracted.

Another disappointment was the failure to support the inclusion of a bikelane around the relatively level transit line through Cavell/Hill/Lansdowne/Hill Streets.  Similarly, there is no advice that improvements to the pedestrian crossing points should not be to the detriment of bike riders by forcing them into pinch points with the faster moving traffic.

If you have some concerns when you read this report, please share them as comments here or be prepared to contact your Aldermen to make representations.  You can also get in touch with WHEN via whenvnet@gmail.com.

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