Traffic calming in Narrabundah should be child’s play

Narrabundah residents hunt the woolly mammoth.

Why is it so hard to implement traffic calming in the ACT? The mechanism is so slow and tedious with petitions and discussions dragged through the ACT Legislative Assembly. Surely slowing traffic is not such a big thing. TCCS seems ill prepared to deal with the problem in an agile way, and labours through the problem like a mammoth through the tundra. Tactile urbanism is a faster way to do this.

Content

  1. The problem
  2. Local Area Traffic Management
  3. Canary in a coal mine: fowl drivers to blame
  4. Slower Streets campaign: jump on board
  5. Narrabundah drivers: no respect for others

The problem

The Narrabundah petition for traffic calming in front of a primary school as discussed in the ACT Legislative Assembly (1 June 2022). Ms Lee has made the point that many residents would feel about the TCCS process.

The petition points out the glaring fact that the intersection at La Perouse Street and Carnegie Crescent is dangerous and no longer fit for purpose. It was designed and built at a time when the focus was on driving and less on pedestrians and active travel.

Ms Lee, Hansard 1 June 2022, ACT Legislative Assembly.

That is, of course, a stark contrast to what Ms Clay has just spoken about. This government’s own Active Streets for Schools program encourages schoolchildren to get active on the commute to and from school by riding, walking or scootering. Yet this intersection’s current hazards would seem to be starkly in contrast to that initiative.

Whilst I wholeheartedly support this petition—after all, I am the only local member that has been raising this for years and years—it is galling that Minister Vassarotti is sponsoring this. She is a minister in this government, as well as the local member—literally in the cabinet that makes the decisions, that allocates the funding, that supposedly gets things done. It is a sad, sad, indictment and it is absolutely and abundantly clear that Minister Vassarotti has no influence whatsoever on getting things done in her own electorate. The latest from Minister Steel is that there will be more studies done and they will be public. The residents are sick of more studies. They want action and they need it now. They are, rightly, concerned that if this intersection is not fixed soon the safety of vulnerable road users, and in particular school students that go to the primary school nearby, is going to continue to be at risk. The issue has dragged on for years, and the subsequent inaction by this Labor-Greens government is unacceptable.

Ms Lee, Hansard 1 June 2022, ACT Legislative Assembly.

Local Area Traffic Management

Local Area Traffic Management (LATM) is the TCCS standard approach but seems to achieve little to fix what is a chronic problem in Canberra. Canberra needs a simpler and dynamic approach that residents can easily engage with. Tactical urbanism is one such approach.

It was agreed that Roads ACT would conduct a study to better understand the traffic issues in the area and recommend the treatment options that would be required. A consultant was engaged to investigate the recommended options to improve safety in the area. The study has now been completed and a report, with recommendations to inform discussions with the Narrabundah Peafowlers and other community groups, has been prepared.

Following that, I can now provide the Assembly with some information about the measures that we want to discuss with the stakeholders in the area. The measures that are proposed are the installation of speed humps on each approach to the La Perouse Street and Carnegie Crescent intersection; refuge islands; and upgrades to the wildlife hazard peafowl signs. A pedestrian crossing facility is also proposed, particularly to support schoolchildren who are crossing over to Red Hill Primary School. They are looking at the 50-kilometre speed limit as well.

Minister Steel, Transport Minister. Hansard 1 June 2022, ACT Legislative Assembly.

Canary in a coal mine: more fowl drivers

It is not just cyclist that feel like roadkill. Motorists are mowing down peafowl in Narrabundah close to a Primary school. Will a child be next?

We seem to get used to deaths on the roads as though it has to be that way. For every death, there are many more injuries. Are we so fond of speed that we have become indifferent to the destruction, so impatient that we have no time to consider others?

Birds of a feather flock together

Vulnerable road users are the type of road participants that do not get up again when mowed down by a motor vehicle. When hard steel meets bone, it is clear what will break. Ducks, Peafowl, cyclists and children should not be crash tested but too often are. Ducks are small, so it is perhaps can be overseen. Peafowl are big birds, about as tall as a small adult, and brightly coloured birds, certainly more brightly coloured than many uniformed school children. They are about the same weight child and similarly dead when struck by a motor vehicle, travelling at just 40 km/h.

We should be worried. 😦 Peafowl mowed down beside a primary school is an ill omen for worst things to come. Are we smart enough to drive slower, be more careful and be more mindful?

Canaries in a coal mine

At one time, miners would take canaries into the coal mine as the birds could “detect” bad air and would suffocate before the miners. They were the warning before a greater disaster. A warning best heeded. Miners learnt to keep an eye on the canaries and react while they still could.

The recent article “Do we have to wait until it’s a child that is hit?”: peafowl deaths spark further calls to slow down (The RiotACT, 27 February 2021) would suggest the ducks and peafowl are sending us such warnings now in Narrabundah. Roadkill is found regularly opposite Red Hill Primary School.

““Feathers were scattered everywhere, and Penny was killed a very short distance from a stop sign in wet conditions,” Mr DeWan told Region Media. “Across the road is Red Hill Primary School. “If it’s some little kid on a bicycle who comes out behind a car, they’re gone. Does the government have to wait until something like that happens?””

Do we have to wait until it’s a child that is hit?”: peafowl deaths spark further calls to slow down, The RiotACT, 27 February 2021.

““These birds can easily be seen, so how much longer do we have to wait until it’s a child that is hit?”” “There are also reports of ducks being hit by motorists in the area as well.”

Do we have to wait until it’s a child that is hit?”: peafowl deaths spark further calls to slow down, The RiotACT, 27 February 2021.

“A community group at Narrabundah is urging the ACT Government to consider an urgent public information campaign for motorists to slow down after seven peafowl were hit by cars in the past eight months, reducing the population from 30 to 23 birds.”

Do we have to wait until it’s a child that is hit?”: peafowl deaths spark further calls to slow down, The RiotACT, 27 February 2021.

“What we’re seeing is the population of our peafowl is being slowly wiped out, not necessarily by deliberate human activity, but by sheer indifference to the speed laws and thinking about slowing down because these birds are here, or maybe a child.”

Do we have to wait until it’s a child that is hit?”: peafowl deaths spark further calls to slow down, The RiotACT, 27 February 2021.

Motorists or dumb ducks?

“Mr DeWan said there was a definite attitudinal problem among some motorists travelling at speed on suburban streets and he welcomed calls for a public education campaign for motorists to reduce their speed in areas where the speed limit is 50 km/h unless marked otherwise.”

Do we have to wait until it’s a child that is hit?”: peafowl deaths spark further calls to slow down, The RiotACT, 27 February 2021.

One would hope that we are a little smarter than dumb ducks and have learnt something from the carnage on Canberra roads in 2020. 50 km/h is too fast for many suburban streets and lower speed limits, speed reduction and traffic reduction measures best considered.

I would hope the ACT Government and the drivers of Narrabundah are cocky enough to take action. 🙂

Slower Streets campaign: jump on board

The ACT Government’s Slower Streets campaign was good for cycling. What is Slow Streets about?

The early suburbs included in Ainslie, Aranda, Braddon, Crace, Downer, Farrer, Garran, O’Connor, Watson, Weston and Yarralumla.

ACT Government’s safe streets measure.

“Canberra’s suburban streets are experiencing a walking and cycling boom. The ACT Government is working with local residents’ groups to encourage people to slow down and share the road with their neighbours who are walking and cycling.

With physical distancing here to stay for the foreseeable future, Slower Streets has been developed to assist people who are walking and cycling and may need to use some of the road for exercise.

Slower Streets is an initiative developed in partnership with walking and cycling groups and delivered by residential organisations and networks to encourage people to slow down and look out for their neighbours.

Slower Streets has not changed speed limits. It is just an invitation to look out for each other.

The ACT Government will provide signs and some basic guidance about how to place them.

Local residential communities can then install the signage according to local circumstances and may do additional communications about walking and cycling locally.

Slower Streets is being rolled out in Ainslie, Aranda, Braddon, Crace, Downer, Farrer, Garran, O’Connor, Watson, Weston and Yarralumla.

Slower Streets, ACT Government, accessed 16/8/2020, page now taken down.

The participating suburbs in the Slower Streets program has been expanded to (new suburbs in bold): Ainslie, Aranda, Barton, Braddon, Canberra Lakes Estate (Belconnen), Crace, Downer, Farrer, Garran, Gowrie, Hackett, Kingston, Macquarie, Monash, O’Connor, Throsby, Turner, Watson, Weston and Yarralumla. (stand 16 June 2022)

Narrabundah drivers still speeding

After the motoring chaos in 2020, the ACT Government was worried. Road congestion decreased in Covid 2020. Surprisingly, this resulted in increased speeding on Canberra’s roads. Despite the return of the traffic, drivers did not slowed down. ACT Government advertising campaign targeting speeding: I thought going a little over was OK… (facebook.com)

The peafowl were back in The RiotACT, 7 March 2021, with Minister Steel planning to meet with the Narrabundah Peafowl group convener Timothy DeWan.

Call of the peafowl leads to meeting with minister to address road safety. Mark Weaver, The RiotACT, 7 March 2021.

“While the familiar call of the area’s peafowl population has not been enough to stop a spate of deaths at the hands of motorists, the call of the Save the Narrabundah Peafowl group will now be heard in the hallways of the ACT Government.

The group says a meeting with Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel next week is a big step forward to address the wider issue of road safety in Canberra’s suburbs.

Save the Narrabundah Peafowl group convener Timothy DeWan said the recent publicity on the peafowl deaths highlighted the behaviour of motorists who had been observed driving too fast in built-up areas of suburban streets.”

Call of the peafowl leads to meeting with minister to address road safety. Mark Weaver, The RiotACT, 7 March 2021.

Motorists who slowed down for the birds had also been abused.

Mr DeWan also welcomed a survey from Opposition leader Elizabeth Lee that called for the community’s thoughts on the issue of the speed of motorists in the suburbs. Member for Kurrajong Rachel Stephen-Smith has also contacted the peafowl group.

The discussion with Minister Steel will involve speed and high traffic flow issues and the risk to local pedestrians, schoolchildren and elderly residents, as well as the increased use of streets in the area by heavy vehicles on construction sites.

Call of the peafowl leads to meeting with minister to address road safety. Mark Weaver, The RiotACT, 7 March 2021.

We all need to slow down and some more than others. Our cars and roads are safer than they ever were before, and paradoxically our driving habits are getting worse.

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