Readers may remember a Leader article (12/01/2016) entitled “Lane Impasse” that related to calls from residents to restrict through vehicle traffic in a section of a Carnegie laneway that is used by pedestrians to access the Carnegie Primary School. The resident’s concerns relate to significant safety issues that arise when vehicles (seeking to reduce commute time, a.k.a. “rat running”) and pedestrians (particularly parents and young children walking to/from the Carnegie Primary School) are combined in a confined space (3m x 75-80m) defined by high fencing.
Residents advise that Council is still not “budging” from it’s June, 2015 decision to install signage and discourage pedestrian use of laneway as Council cannot restrict access to the laneway. This is despite the residents continuing to report issues of vehicles not exercising caution when using the laneway (the latest report being made early last week).
GERA is supporting the residents over this significant safety issue and provides the following analysis of the issues (together with proposed solutions) to assist them in their future dealings with Council.
- Council’s letter, dated 12/6/2015 identifies the laneway as a “road”, however, this is not supported by Council’s 2015 Road Register which designates the laneway as a “right of way” rather than a road. Although a Right of Way is not defined in the Road Register, Council’s website provides a “Uses of Rights of Way” policy* that states
“Rights of way were principally created as part of subdivisions for the purpose of providing ancillary services to properties, which include sanitary collection, deliveries to retail, commercial and industrial properties. Most rights of way were never intended to be the principal means of access to any property, nor are they wide enough to cater for public vehicular through traffic and/or pedestrian access.”
- There is an apparent contradiction in the statement (above attached Leader article) that “council’s transport planning manager was unable to restrict access to the laneway because properties next to it could, in future, create an access point” in that Elliot Avenue’s access to the Elliot/Tranmere section of the laneway has an aged, permanent bollard installed that prevents through vehicle usage.
- Street Configuration
- If the laneway is unable to be safely used by pedestrians to access the Carnegie Primary School (and the Route 67 Tram Service), this will add a significant extra distance for pedestrian school access as it will involve accessing the School either by Neerim Road (North) or by the Crossover (South) then “doubling back”. This extra distance (approximately 500m), particularly when combined with the current and expected future disruption caused by construction in and around Neerim Road, is contrary to Council’s Sustainable Transport Policy and may well result in increased traffic congestion as parents opt to drive rather walk children to school. In contrast, the increase in travel time incurred by confining vehicles to the road network proper is minimal.
The multi coloured dotted line denotes the laneway access to Carnegie Primary School from Tranmere Avenue.
The Black dotted line denotes the Shepparson Avenue/Koornang Road, Carnegie, section of the laneway which residents argue is currently unsafe.
The Blue dotted line denotes a closely aligned laneway that connects Koornang Road with Graceburn Avenue and the Carnegie Primary School.
- The significance of pedestrian usage of Koornang/Tranmere laneway to access Carnegie Primary School has been recognised by Council, via locating a school crossing that links the laneway’s access point on the eastern side of Koornang Road with a closely aligned laneway (located on the western side of Koornang Road) which connects Koornang Road with Graceburn Avenue. The Carnegie Primary School being located on the corner of Truganni Road and Graceburn Avenue.
Further, taking into account Council’s above Rights of Way definition and
o the close alignment of these two laneways (Koornang/Tranmere and Koornang/Graceburn), and
o the residential nature (ie. the absence of retail, commercial or industrial activities) of development in the area serviced by the Koornang/Tranmere Laneway, and the absence of laneways to provide for sanitary services for each property, and
o the limited number of properties ( 16 – all with on street crossovers/driveways, none currently using the laneway for vehicular property access) that could be serviced by the Koornang/Tranmere laneway, and
o the Elliot Street bollard, and
o that the laneway terminates at the eastern boundary of the Carnegie School Zone (ie. Tranmere Ave)
it is reasonable to conclude that providing pedestrian access to the Carnegie Primary School was a significant (if not primary) factor in the creation of the Koornang/Tranmere laneway.
- The adequacy of the crossing signage recently installed at the laneway’s Koornang Road and Shepparson Avenue access points. Residents report that this signage is not clearly visible to drivers because of
o height, and
o placement that faces the other side of the road rather than traffic travelling north or south on either roadway
- The possibility of relocating the lighted speed limit signage facing traffic travelling north on Koornang Road to a location that is before (rather than after) the school crossing.
- Undertaking an analysis of the current and future laneway usage by both pedestrian and vehicles.
While the Koornang/Tranmere laneway is located in a Neighbourhood Residential Zone (which restricts redevelopment to 2 stories and 2 dwellings per lot), the laneway’s proximity to the Carnegie Growth Zones (3-4 story multi unit development zones) points to a likely significant future increase in pedestrian laneway usage (to access Carnegie Primary School) not only in the Koornang/Shepparson section but also in the Shepparson/Tranmere sections. Similarly, through vehicle usage of the laneway is also likely to increase.
Therefore, in line with good planning concepts, GERA urges Council to consider applying the results of the Council’s review of the Koornang/Shepparson section of the laneway to all sections of the laneway.
Finally, GERA suggests Council consider implementing at least one of the following options
- In each laneway section, installing
o a bollard (similar in width to the cast iron poles commonly used for traffic and parking management purposes and of a height that would impede through vehicle usage without impacting pedestrian usage) in the centre of each of the 4 laneway sections and in line with the rear property boundary of the abutting lots, and
o “no throughway” signage at appropriate locations, eg. at laneway access points, on each bollard.
Such bollards and signage should
o be relatively inexpensive*, readily available and easily installed, and
o have little impact on a possible future requests from abutting properties for property access points to be provided via the laneway.
* In August, 2012, in response to a Public Question, Council advised “that the cost of six parking restriction signs manufactured and installed by Council’s depot was less than $200” (ie. less than $33.33 each).
- Designating the laneway as a Shared Zone and installing appropriate signage (not GERA’s preferred option).
Such a designation would recognise that, while pedestrians and vehicles share the laneway, special rules apply to laneway usage, ie
o that, at all times, pedestrians have a legally enforceable right of way over vehicles within the laneway
o a low vehicle speed limit (typically 10 km/h) is applicable within the laneway.
However, such a designation may take time to implement and become widely known/accepted and encourages through laneway vehicle usage.