The street and road are not the same thing. Simply put, the road is for cars, but everybody benefits from the street. Take way the road and we still have a street, it may even serve the local community better.
Streets are where we live
The place function of a street can be regarded as what distinguishes it from a road, which primarily has a traffic carrying function. A ‘sense of place’ is fundamental to a richer and more fulfilling environment. It comes largely from creating a strong relationship between the street and the buildings and spaces that frame it. A sense of place encompasses aspects such as local distinctiveness, visual quality, and propensity to encourage social activity (Department for Transport 2007).Austroads AGTM08-16 Guide to Traffic Management Part 8 Local Area Traffic Management, 13.
The idea that traffic can become a menace and that we can improve the quality of the street for people by slowing cars is not new. Measures to do this are often called traffic calming, also known as Local Area Traffic Management (LATM) by Austroads and TCCS in the ACT.
As international attempts to improve local street safety increased in the 1970s, it became apparent that there were very few opportunities to separate moving traffic from other road users in active urban spaces, and so it became necessary to explore ways to deal with the impacts of traffic on other activities in the street and on adjacent land uses in the typical case where the streetspace is shared (OECD 1979). The creation of an ‘environment of care’ in which pedestrian, cycle and vehicular movement in local areas can be amenably integrated, rather than segregated, was stated as being the fundamental rationale of LATM more than 30 years ago (Brindle 1979, 1984a).Austroads AGTM08-16 Guide to Traffic Management Part 8 Local Area Traffic Management, 13.
Arguably, the cheapest way to quieten a street down is to slow the cars on the road by reducing the speed limit on that road. On local streets, this makes a lot of sense. In Europe, many cities of 30 km/h speed limit on all local streets.
Lower speed limits in neighbourhoods are now common. … the introduction of even lower speed limits in some local precincts in both Australia and New Zealand, along with many street treatments that have been installed in parallel, have had the effect of reducing speeds in local streets, and encouraging drivers to be more speed conscious. In addition, the Australian Road Rules and various state Traffic Acts make provision for ‘shared zones’, in which care for non-motorised users of the street space is reflected in lower posted speed limits (usually 10 km/h) and the requirement that drivers must give way to pedestrians.Austroads AGTM08-16 Guide to Traffic Management Part 8 Local Area Traffic Management, 13.
Sure, cars have speedometers but drivers sense of speed has a lot to do with the road design. People will drive slower when the road is narrowed or winds, and the opposite is true for wide and straight roads. As speeding is a very common cause of collisions and injury, it makes sense to make to narrow roads and slow cars. A narrow road is also easier to cross. Paradoxically, traffic engineers often design roads wider to make them safer for drivers and thereby less safe for pedestrians. Wide roads may be justified on arterials but not on local streets. Traffic calming on local roads includes shared zones where the car is tolerated as a guest.
The use of lower speed limits by themselves, instead of physically modifying the environment of the street to slow traffic down, frequently leads to community concerns and traffic discussions. The hope is that lower speed limits will create lower speeds. … while lower speed limits provide a rationale and legitimacy for speed control devices, speed reduction measures such as common LATM devices or other treatments like streetscaping and active roadsides, are usually necessary in order to reduce the speed environment and make the lower speed limit effective. This is a basic premise of self-explaining streets.Austroads AGTM08-16 Guide to Traffic Management Part 8 Local Area Traffic Management, 13.
Information box: Austroads recommends 30 km/h on local streets
Austroads recommended speed limits within Canberra.
For many people, 30 km/h may seem a bit too slow. Austroads sees it differently.
“It is increasingly accepted by road safety practitioners that, to be aligned with the Safe System philosophy for pedestrians and cyclists, 30km/h impact speeds define the upper limit of an ‘acceptable’ collision. This ‘Safe System boundary condition’ coincides with an approximate 10% chance of the struck pedestrian being killed by the collision. Put another way, this corresponds to a 90% chance of survival. For the corresponding situation with serious injury (i.e., a collision with a pedestrian producing a 10% chance of serious injury), a much lower impact speed applies.”Integrating Safe System with Movement and Place for Vulnerable Road Users (Austroads, 2020), 14.
Providing for Bicycles in LATM
Bicycle and pedestrian safety considerations should also be included in safety audits of LATM schemes and treatments, at all stages. The needs of mobility impaired pedestrians and people with disabilities should also be carefully considered. The Guide to Road Design Part 6A: Pedestrian and Cyclist Paths provides guidance on alignment, width and geometric requirements, and information on the design of treatments necessary for a designer to prepare detailed geometric design drawings.Austroads AGTM08-16 Guide to Traffic Management Part 8 Local Area Traffic Management, 129.
Consideration of cyclist needs should be an integral part of the LATM planning and design process rather than treated as a supplementary or post-design check. Cyclists’ needs can be expressed in terms of four requirements (Maher & Stallard 1994):Austroads AGTM08-16 Guide to Traffic Management Part 8 Local Area Traffic Management, 130.
– Enhanced cycling access – by linking safe cycling streets to form continuous through-routes for cyclists, and by improving crossing points across main roads.
– Enhanced safety of cycling – by restricting the speed, volume and movement of motor vehicles, without introducing additional hazards for cyclists.
– Enhanced convenience of cycling – by providing new, safe cycling opportunities and short cuts to destinations. (ed. permeability)
– Maintenance of continuity of bicycle routes – by ensuring uninterrupted bicycle passage through local streets, and by ensuring bicycle access through full or partial road closures.
Copenhagen style protected cycle lanes
Have you ever wonder what is meant by Copenhagen style protected cycle lanes? This term appears in a number of ACT Government document, one of note is the Molonglo Group Centre Concept Plan. They should not be confused with bike paths which are grade separated and the better solution. Copenhagen style protected cycle lanes are popular in big cities as they can be retrofitted in old suburbs as part of urban renewal. What are we doing building them in green field suburbs instead of bike paths? The information shows the way Copenhagen style protected cycle lanes have been built in Melbourne.
The list is long and in this section, are pictures of a few.
Flat-top road hump – slow cars but without a pedestrian crossing
Wombat crossing – include a pedestrian crossing
Keb extensions and lane narrowings
Full road closures
Half road closures
Diagonal Road Closure
Calming traffic around schools
Roads past schools must be made safe for children to be able to walk to school without supervision. For this reason, they should be given priority in the ACT to promote active travel – both cycling and walking.
Suitable LATM measures for these roads typically include (Daff & Wilson 1996):Integrating Safe System with Movement and Place for Vulnerable Road Users (Austroads, 2020), 40.
– roundabouts and/or mid-block splitter islands
– median islands, intermittent planting islands or barrier lines to restrict overtaking and provide pedestrian refuges
– carriageway narrowing or linemarking to provide one lane in each direction; this can also provide protected parking lanes and provide for cyclists.
Zebra (wombat) crossing are different from pedestrian crossing in that they are built on a raised platform to slow cars and commonly built in front of schools.
Lack of footpaths
We do not have footpaths in the ACT but instead community paths that can be used by pedestrians and cyclists. Many older suburbs in the ACT have streets without any community paths, so for many Canberrans the situation described in the Austroads report would sound familiar.
Footpaths tend to be taken for granted but are too often not provided in local streets… This happens as a result of a failure to make even the most basic provision for walking in urban areas. There are a number of important consequences from these long-standing practices. First, pedestrians are forced to walk on roadways when the space normally provided for footpaths is blocked by overgrown trees and other vegetation, parked vehicles or otherwise unsuited for walking because of wet weather and/or poor surfaces. This results in pedestrians, often children on foot and/or parents with young children, prams and strollers, negotiating traffic while walking on the road alongside approaching traffic travelling at 50km/h or higher. On occasions, pedestrians will have their backs turned and have minimal lateral clearances. Such conditions are far outside the boundaries for low-risk walking and often remain in place for decades due to insufficient funding to rectify the situation. Mobility-impaired people and older and younger pedestrians using local streets become even more vulnerable in these circumstances.
A secondary effect of a lack of basic walking conditions is that people are more inclined to driver, particularly when transporting children to and from school, which adds to the problems of car dependence, human inactivity, congestion around schools and the resultant risks that children face when interacting with traffic.Integrating Safe System with Movement and Place for Vulnerable Road Users (Austroads, 2020), page 109.
Footpath – A minor path for use by pedestrians and cyclists. In the ACT unless designated otherwise, a path may be designated for pedestrians only if it conforms to the requirements of the Australian Road Rule 239 to become a separated footpath and signed accordingly.Active Travel Facilities Design – Municipal Infrastructure Standards 05 (MIS05) (ACT Government, April 2019)