UPDATE – RESIDENTS TRAFFIC AND PARKING FORUM

GERA thanks the 50+ residents for attending last Wednesday’s (11/7/2012) GERA Traffic and Parking Forum – your attendance and discussion contributions made for a very successful and informative evening.

The three speakers (Dr. Bruce Corben, Cr. Narelle Sharpe, Cr. Serge Thomann) spoke about traffic management, road safety and parking innovations from research perspective and  the various approaches Councils use to address these issues.  Unfortunately, no Glen Eira Councillor attended the forum.

Dr. Bruce Corben focused on the issue of safety and the need for road design and traffic calming treatments to reduce speed.  Dr. Corben outlined a “shift in thinking” in the design of roads and traffic management treatments which recognizes that drivers of vehicles cannot be 100% perfect/functional  100% of the time.  Therefore, the concepts of Vision Zero (no deaths) and reducing speed (to protect the most vulnerable road users – pedestrians, cyclists) are now becoming inherent in traffic engineering/management.   Good road design and good traffic calming treatments – which aim at reducing speed and the reliance on vehicles – not only have the well-known tangible benefits of improved safety (less accidents and reduced severity of accidents), a more active population, energy conservation and reduced emissions but also have the lesser known intangible benefits of fostering a sense of community and social contact in a less stressful environment.

Dr. Corben also commented that arguments against installing traffic calming treatments based on the cost of such treatments are increasingly being considered unjustifiable – the dollars and a few seconds added to a motorist’s trip are simply not worth compromising the safety of all.

Cr. Narelle Sharpe,  Moonee Valley Council, outlined the approach that MVCC has taken to the traffic and parking issues within their municipality.  Similar to Glen Eira, Moonee Valley has diverse areas with different traffic and parking issues (the race course, older areas with narrow streets, newer areas with wider streets, shopping and entertainment precincts etc.).  MVCC has recently completed an extensive evaluation, which included substantial community consultation, of the municipality and significantly revised their Local Area Traffic Management (LATM) scheme – 22 LATM’s have been recognized and scheduled for review. The MVCC is investing $40K-$45K for each LATM scheme.   Each review will ensure parking and traffic conditions meet the local needs, provide improved accessibility for other parking users and address the wider metropolitan requirements such as enabling through traffic.

Cr. Sharpe reported that the LATM approach allows Council to change from being reactive to being pro-active when addressing traffic and parking issues and enabled a holistic approach to be taken.  As Cr. Sharpe stated a change in one street, flows on to other streets – “ it is no good fixing an issue in one street by shifting it to the next street”.  

With regards parking, along with the revised LATMs, the MVCC also implemented a Kerbside Road Space User Hierarchy and a Parking Demand Management Framework

  • Kerbside Road Space User Hierarchy – is a system that prioritises the needs of the various users depending on the type of area considered (for example residents have priority to park in residential streets, in activity centres customers/patrons have priority).
  • Parking Demand Management Framework – establishes a clear 85% rule for managing parking within the Moonee Valley municipality and 4 tiers of restricted parking (the higher the tier, the greater the restriction) are applied.  If 85% of available parking space is continuously occupied then parking restrictions are introduced to encourage a regular turnover of vehicles.  The tier of the parking restriction (eg 1P, 2P) is dependent on the needs of area or the activity centre generating the demand for parking.  Community (residents, retailers, commercial operators) consultation is always undertaken prior to restricted parking being implemented.

GERA Note:  The main objectives of a Local Area Traffic Management Schemes are to address road safety issues, traffic speed and volume issues, parking problems and improve the residential environment.  The LATM approach to managing traffic and parking is not a new concept and has long been widely accepted and practised by Municipalities.  The LATM process involves

  • analysing existing traffic/parking conditions in a local area, within the broader municipal area
  • considering the impact of traffic/parking on a local area basis and the flow on impact that installing a traffic calming treatment, or restricted parking, in one street will have on other streets in the local area.
  • extensive community consultation (to identify issues, develop solutions and achieve community support) leading to the development of a traffic management plan for the local areas. 

Glen Eira has LATM’s and has used this holistic management approach in the past, however, recent decisions (lower speed limits in Glen Huntly Road and Centre Road, speedhumps in McKinnon Road) and Council’s failure to proactively recognise the “rat runs” this has caused in nearby residential streets indicates it no longer follows this approach. 

Cr. Serge Thomann, Port Phillip Council, began by stating that Port Phillip had significant problems with traffic (volumes and speed) and parking – Port Phillip, because of it’s location and attractions, was both a through area for metropolitan traffic and a destination.  In their approach to their traffic and parking issues Port Phillip Council has determined that it’s primary role is to facilitate livability for residents and therefore has adopted the following

  • Traffic
    • A Road User Hierarchy – which focusses on the needs of the most vulnerable road users – pedestrians’ needs are our foremost priority, followed by bicycles, public transport users and finally trucks and single occupant vehicles.
    • Port Phillip actively discourages through traffic use of residential streets (rat runs) and encourages use of main roads by installing a wide variety of traffic calming measures in local streets (including blocking off residential streets).  In determining if, and what type of, traffic calming treatment is to be installed, the flow on impact to other local streets is also considered and addressed.   Where possible Port Phillip incorporates, and maintains, street planting in traffic calming treatments.
    • Port Philllip provides an extensive, well patronized, free community bus service within the municipality to discourage residents reliance on private vehicle transport.  The community bus service has a regular schedules and routes
  • Parking
    • Port Phillip sees itself as being responsible to provide parking for its residents, retailers, workers and the patrons of its areas – it does not see itself as responsible to provide parking for commuters, therefore, most of Port Phillip has restricted parking.
    • Since 2002, Port Phillip has excluded any development which intensifies the number of residences on a lot from its residential parking permit scheme.

Open Discussion – after the presentations a general discussion occurred in which the residents made the following comments on Glen Eira’s traffic and parking management issues.

  • Council is unresponsive to residents’ concerns – the expense of installing traffic calming treatments in local streets is the standard reason for refusal.  Issues of safety do not seem to be given any weight or adequate investigation.
  • Council’s focus is on main roads rather than residential streets
  • Council is re-active rather than pro-active (after, rather than before, an accident occurs)
  • Council does not adopt a holistic approach – the decisions it has taken on traffic management in Glen Huntly Road, Centre Road and McKinnon Road have resulted in ‘rat runs’ (usually at high speed) in nearby streets.  That “professionals” didn’t recognize this flow on impact, or take it into consideration, is source of frustration to residents.  No community consultation occurred prior to or after the installation – residents feedback since installation is not heeded.
  • Residents’ concerns re speeding vehicles are not addressed by Council – Council refers the residents to the Police, who in turn refer the residents to Council.  The Police are responsible for enforcing the speed limit (when it comes to residential streets, police speed limit checking is intermittent), however, when it comes to local streets and a continual problem it becomes a safety issue and the responsibility of Council.  Residents are put in the unenviable “ïn between” position
  • Council’s enforcement of the residential parking permit system or parking restrictions in various activity centres (eg Carnegie and Murrumbeena) is minimal.  It relies on motorists doing the right thing or residents raising an issue with a particular vehicle.  Patrolling these areas need not be daily but even a once weekly patrol would make a significant difference in the no. of vehicles overstaying their welcome.
  • Glen Eira has community buses, however, they do not provide any bus service within the municipality.  The community buses are provided and maintained by Council for use by non-profit organisations or groups in the municipality.

At the end of the open discussion, Cr. Thomann commented that this was an election year and although Councillors may not have been listening for the past 3.5 years they should be listening now.  Residents needed to stand up and make sure that Councillors and the Administration listened.

GERA thanks Dr. Bruce Corben, Cr. Narelle Sharpe and Cr. Serge Thomann for their presentation and active participation.  GERA will actively lobby Councillors to listen and focus on the items raised during the forum.  GERA welcomes resident involvement in these endeavours.

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