20 February 2016

West Hobart Local Area Traffic Investigation (take 2)

We shared some info about the report by MRCagney in our last blog post.

As an update, the report is coming back to the Council's Infrastructure Committee this coming Wednesday 25 Feb (5.30pm, Lady Osborne Room, Town Hall).

WHEN's submission to Council in respect of the report, in summary is:

The West Hobart Environment Network represents West Hobartians who love their quiet, attractive, friendly community.  People love the quiet pace, the views, the proximity to local schools and popular corner stores, the proximity (easy walking and cycling distance) to the CBD for work and shopping.  We have celebrated West Hobart as a walking precinct in our map “Walking West Hobart’.

However the combination of a relatively high speed limit on the roads (50 kph) and the slow but steady entrenchment of a “rat-run” through the middle of the community from the northern suburbs to the CBD is starting to fray the integrity of the community, creating stress for parents of school age children and inducing fear for older and less agile residents.  

On Tuesday 16 February WHEN members made a manual count at one location on this route, to get a better sense of the nature of the problem.   This was on the south side of the roundabout at Lansdowne Cres/Hill St/Patrick St.  These are the results:

All vehicles passing
Pedestrians crossing
Morning commuter peak hour
After school period

We didn’t count the evening commuter peak (1630-1730) but would assume that it is similar to the morning commuter peak.   

For comparison, our manual one-off count on an ordinary week day is of the same order as the count quoted in the MRCagney Report and based on data provided by the Council (i.e. 1308 AM peak hour, 1335 PM peak hour).   

Our views on this are:

-         This volume and speed of traffic is totally inappropriate for a quiet residential area, where we would like to be able to encourage children to walk and cycle to school and where older residents with declining acuities need to cross the road to get to the shops and back.

-         The noise, smell and sense of tension around this fast moving stream of traffic creates an undesirable environment in a residential area.

-         Many of these trips by car could be eliminated if commuters had better options via public transport, bike paths, and if parents could safely let their children walk or ride to school on their own.

It was these issues that Steve Burgess was asked to consider and propose some solutions for.  Of the recommendations of the MR Cagney report “West Hobart Local Area Traffic Investigation”, we support:

1.       The main recommendation i.e. the installation of traffic signals at the corner of Hill and Arthur Streets, and at the corner of Lansdowne Cres, Hill St and Patrick St.  Because:

o   These will create clearly visible and attractive safe crossing points for pedestrians both old and young at two important and busy crossing points on Hill Street.

o   The resultant “platooning” effect on cars traversing Hill Street will create regular quiet traffic patches along the route so it will be easier and safer for children, parents with prams, and older citizens to pick their opportunities to cross the road.

o   Controlled traffic lights provide a safer intersection experience for cyclists, who are intimidated and squeezed off the road by faster moving vehicles at roundabouts.

o   The “subjective safety” experience for pedestrians and cyclists will be improved all the way along Hill Street.

o   The proposed lights will also improve the safety for car drivers at each of these locations, given the difficult sight lines down Arthur St at the Hill/Arthur St intersection and the propensity of drivers at the Hill/Patrick intersection to maintain high speeds through the current roundabout.

2.       The installation of improved, safer pedestrian crossings at other points along Hill Street, which create a stronger invitation for pedestrians to cross and signal more strongly to drivers that people have a right to cross at this point.  The design to be as described in the Local Retail Precincts Project report. 

3.       The development of local guidelines on the installation of Zebra and raised Zebra (or Wombat) crossings.

4.       Increased mixed use in residential areas such as West Hobart, to create local employment and more destinations for people to walk and ride to.

5.       Increased residential density in residential areas such as West Hobart, to reduce urban sprawl and make active transport (walking & cycling) and public transport more viable.

It would be great if other residents could make written submissions to the Committee members about the MRCagney report and its recommendations. If you would like to, and need any assistance, pls contact Di at whenvnet@gmail.com.  

If you would like to come to the Committee meeting and make a verbal presentation to the Committee, we strongly encourage you to do so, as these personal representations can be very powerful. You will need to seek the permission of the Chair of the Committee in advance.  Once again, contact Di for assistance with how to do this.

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