12 August 2016

Update on traffic solutions for West Hobart

Our last update was on 9 April.

Where are we at now in the Hill St/Lansdowne Cres traffic saga?

We have continued to lobby but nothing is straightforward it seems. 

Hobart Council sent three letters in May to the Department of State Growth seeking clarification and/or support for issues around:
a) installing traffic lights at the corner of Arthur and Hill Streets
b) a children's crossing on Hill St near the train park
c) rules for establishing "zebra" crossings.

We're advised that State Growth has responded as follows:

a) Traffic lights
In relation to the traffic lights, we're advised by the Council that State Growth has responded that:
"the intersection is unlikely to meet warrants for traffic signals as defined in the Austroads Guides".
State Growth apparently requested further information from the Council and  apparently Council is in the process of providing that.

We still support the installation of traffic lights on this corner in order to bring some order to the vehicle traffic at this intersection and to enable a safe crossing point here for pedestrians.   The lights will also break up the steady stream of city bound traffic along Hill Street into pulses and thereby create some safer crossing opportunities for pedestrians all along Hill Street.  This will be especially helpful in the morning peak hour.

b) Safer children's crossing at the Train Park
Apparently the Department of State Growth provided the advice “that the installation of children’s crossings on Hill Street would not be appropriate as they would not be located adjacent to school property. Providing a median treatment along Hill Street ... will improve safety by allowing pedestrians to cross the road in two stages. Experience indicates that median treatments are also beneficial in moderating vehicle operating speeds.”

This doesn't make much sense to us in light of firstly common sense (do median strips really help to moderate traffic speeds?) and secondly previous advice provided by State Growth. Council are liaising with State Growth to work out how to proceed.

c)  Statewide Warrants for Pedestrian Crossings
No response has been received to date from the Transport Commissioner. However the Manager Traffic Safety (Department of State Growth) has supported both using the warrants that have been developed in Victoria, and restricting the use of zebra crossings to locations where vehicle speeds are low and drivers are prepared to stop and give way to pedestrians. It was also noted that the installation of zebra crossings normally has to be accompanied by a street lighting upgrade so that motorists can clearly see pedestrians at night.

We still are keen to see zebra crossings, preferably on raised landings (also known as wombat crossings) at popular crossing points along Hill St and Lansdowne Crescent.  These will help to slow traffic to enable safer crossings by pedestrians, offer safer passage for older residents* and will be safer for bike riders than the "kerb bulb and traffic island" option currently favoured by Council.

WHEN recommends five locations for  these wombat crossings:
  1. Hill Street at Lansdowne Cres/Patrick Street intersection.  This will assist children crossing to school and pedestrians accessing the West Hobart Post Office.
  2. Hill St near Warwick St intersection.  This will assist children crossing to go to the park and to and from school, also pedestrians accessing the Porky Duck cafe on the corner.
  3. Hill St near Pine St intersection.   This will assist children crossing to school and pedestrians accessing the Pharmacy and Smolt Kitchen cafe.
  4. Hill St near the Arthur St intersection (this is on the basis that the proposed traffic signals are refused or deferred).   This will assist children crossing to school and pedestrians accessing the Hill Street Grocer.
  5. Lansdowne Cres near the Lansdowne Cres Primary School.  This will discourage drivers choosing Lansdowne Cres to avoid the new wombat crossing on Hill St near the train park, and will also assist children crossing here outside of the "manned" school crossing hours.
WHEN's ideas on how to make West Hobart more liveable in terms of its residential traffic management arrangements are shown on this map.  As well as the above listed wombat crossings to provide physical traffic calming measures, we support reducing the speed limit in our neighbourhood to 40 kph, and reducing the speed limit at the school to 30 kph, both of which are standard practices in many residential zones both in Australia and overseas.

Next Steps

Council officers are currently developing a concept design for the " median treatment, refuge islands and kerb outstands" to be installed in Hill Street this financial year. These plans will be used to undertake consultation with the residents and businesses on Hill Street (and other stakeholders within the West Hobart community, including the Primary School).

We intend to be actively involved in developing these plans and will encourage as many residents as possible to get involved in the consultations when they occur.  Actual construction of the new crossings is likely to be towards the end of the 2016/17 financial year.

* A Monash University study undertaken for Victoria Walks (Fall-Related Injuries While Walking in Victoria, March 2016) included in its recommendations to reduce opportunities for pedestrian falls while walking in public places: "At crossing locations on minor roads, design should consider raised crossings, raised thresholds so that the footpath is at the same level as the street crossing".

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