Category Archives: Pedestrian Safety

CARNEGIE LANEWAY PRIMARY SHOOL ACCESS – Finally sense Prevails

This morning’s (8.30 a.m.) installation of bollards in the laneway (between Shepparson Street and Koornang Road, Carnegie) ends over two years of frustrating argey bargey between residents and Council re a significant pedestrian and child safety issue.

Koornang Road Laneway Access 08/09/2017

Shepparson Avenue Laneway Access 08/092017

This safety issue being the shared vehicle and pedestrian (particularly primary school children) usage of a confined narrow laneway to access the Carnegie Primary School via the Koornang Road School Crossing.  For background refer GERA’s previous postings – Child and Pedestrian Safety – Access to Carnegie Primary  and Child and Pedestrian Safety – Access to Carnegie Primary – Part 2

In line with residents initial request, permanent bollards and appropriate signage have now been installed.  Gone are Council’s unacceptable and unsuccessful earlier solutions of time restricted vehicle laneway signage and the recent installation of speed humps.

While residents are happy that a significant longstanding issue has finally been resolved without any personal injury occurring, they are also seriously questioning Council’s processes which did not result in the timely application of a simple cost effective solution to a high risk situation.  A high risk situation that at all times was undeniably within Council’s traffic and pedestrian safety responsibilities.

More about these processes in a subsequent post – for now, residents are extremely relieved that “finally sense prevails”.

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CHILD AND PEDESTRIAN SAFETY – ACCESS TO CARNEGIE PRIMARY – Part 2

UPDATE 2/6/2016 – Second Sign Installed

The second sign, banning vehicle usage of the laneway during peak school usage times, was installed at the Koornang Road laneway entrance on 30/5/2016.

UPDATE 29/5/2016 – Signage Installation

Last Friday 27/5/2016, one month after Council decided to “ban” through vehicle usage of the Koornang/Shepparson laneway during peak school access times via signage, residents were notified that the signage would be installed that day.

After 12 months of wrangling with Council, the residents were delighted to see the signage being installed – the signage is highly visible and readily understood.

Alas, the “spanner in the works” became readily apparent when only one sign was installed.  And that installation was at the Shepparson Avenue laneway entrance rather than the Koornang Road laneway entrance.  The Koornang Road entrance being the entrance most used by motorists seeking to avoid the Koornang Road traffic congestion.

As Council has been unable to advise why only one sign was installed, residents are admiring Shepparson Avenue signage and wondering if they should do a quick whip around to fund the Koornang Road signage.

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27/4/2016 UPDATE – Council’s Decision

After 11 months of frustrating argy-bargy between residents and Council, at last night’s (26/4) meeting, Councillors decided to end the impasse on the significant cyclist and pedestrian (particularly child) safety issues that exist in the Koornang/Shepparson laneway section in Carnegie.

Councillors decided to restrict through vehicle laneway usage during peak school access times (a.m. and p.m.) via signage (cost = $200.00).  If motorists continue using the laneway as a “short cut/rat run” after the signage has been installed or, as per Cr. Magee, if a “catastrophe occurs”, residents were assured that Council will consider installing a removable vehicle barrier in the laneway section during peak school access periods.

While residents welcome the end of the impasse, many are left wondering why it took so long for Council to “do something” that addresses a clear-cut safety issue and are fully expecting to return to the fray sometime within the next twelve months.  They believe that signage alone is unlikely to be an effective, long-term deterrent for those motorists who think it acceptable to use the laneway as short cut/rat run during peak school access times.

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In May, 2015, concerned residents first contacted Council re the inherent risks associated with combined through vehicle and cyclist/pedestrian (particularly parents and young children) usage in a section of the Koornang Road to Tranmere Avenue, Carnegie, laneway  –  the laneway, which connects to the Koornang Road School Crossing, provides a significant pedestrian short cut to the Carnegie Primary School.  The section of the laneway deemed unsafe by residents is the Koornang Road to Shepparson Avenue section which is being used as a “rat run” (a.k.a. shortcut) to avoid  Koornang Road traffic congestion.

Over the ensuing 11 months, there have been frequent communications between residents, Council Officers and Councillors – yet despite this communication, Councillor and Officer site visits and publicity in the local media,  residents report Council has maintained a “do nothing”  (Leader article 12/01/2016)  approach that favoured vehicle over cyclist/pedestrian laneway usage.

Therefore, when in response to a reported incidence,  Councillors formally requested an Officer’s Report 2016 03 15 Extract from Minutes of Council Meeting), outlining the possible measures that could be taken to close the laneway to through vehicular traffic during peak school access times, residents welcomed that initiative.  It was seen as a positive step towards ending the current impasse that would provide an objective assessment of the current issues, their potential solutions and lead to a safer environment for families accessing Carnegie Primary via the laneway.

Unfortunately, Friday’s published Officer’s Report, presented by the Manager, Strategic Transport, does not provide an objective assessment of either the current issue or potential solutions and the proposed recommendations do little to ensure a safer environment within the laneway.  Particularly as the residents simple yet effective, proposed solution of installing a bollard and appropriate signage in the Koornang/Shepparson laneway (estimated total cost $400)* section has been overlooked.

* Although both the cost of bollard and speed hump installation was sought in a public question (15/3/2016 Public Question Extract) surprisingly Council was unable to provide that information.   The estimated cost is therefore reasonably assumed to be equivalent to the recently advised cost of manufacturing and installing 6 time restricted parking signs in Elsternwick ($200) plus Council’s advised signage cost of $200.

LANEWAY DETAILS

 To recap details of the details of the laneway included in GERA’s previous posting

Street Directory with measurements

  • The multi coloured dotted line denotes the laneway access to Carnegie Primary School from Tranmere Avenue.
  • The Red dotted line denotes the Shepparson to Tranmere section of the laneway that is not currently deemed unsafe by residents, however, given the pace of development along Neerim Road it may become unsafe in the future.
  • 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 Koornang/Shepparson laneway section

  • Is 80-85 metres long and 3 metres wide and surrounded by solid high fencing – given current vehicle widths, cyclists and pedestrians (particularly those with strollers and/or young children yet to develop risk awareness) are provided with little scope for action.
  • The laneway’s significance in providing pedestrian access to Carnegie Primary, has been recognized by Council’s placement of a supervised school crossing in Koornang Road. The school crossing connects this laneway with the Koornang/Graceburn laneway.
  • The 4 properties abutting the laneway section do not use the laneway for vehicular access to their properties – all use on-street cross overs (driveways). Residents have advised that  property owners have given verbal approval for the laneway to be closed to through vehicle traffic.
  • All vehicular usage of the laneway is through traffic seeking a short-cut to avoid traffic congestion at the traffic lighted Koornang/Neerim or Koornang/Truganni intersections.
  • Allows for through vehicle traffic, where as the Elliot/Tranmere section of the laneway is permanently blocked to through traffic by an aged, permanently installed bollard.
  • As per the Glen Eira Road Register (December, 2015), Council is responsible for traffic management within the roads/streets that connect with the laneway and in the laneway itself.

OFFICER’S REPORT

 GERA makes the following points with regards the discussion issues included in the Manager, Strategic Planning’s Report

  • GERA and residents accept that through vehicle usage of the Koornang/Shepparson laneway section during peak school times is relatively low (ie. an average of 3 vehicles, where residents consider 1 too many) and usually at low speeds consistent with the laneway’s narrow width.   However,  Council’s expectations that motorists, who knowingly use the laneway during at peak school times as a time saving “short cut”, will use caution and stop to allow cyclists and pedestrians to pass safely are not being met.  Rather than slowing or stopping,  vehicles continue moving forward while blowing their horns.  Cyclists and pedestrians are then required to squeeze up next to the wall when cars come past because even they only just fit through” in a confined space that does not provide either party with space to respond to the consequences of “a moments inattention”.

 In short,

  • the risks to cyclists and pedestrians (particularly parents with strollers and/or young children not known for either attentiveness or risk assessment) far exceed any “short cut” benefit to motorists, and
  • allowing continued through vehicles (presumed to be driven by local residents) laneway usage, in order to avoid traffic congestion at either the traffic lighted Koornang/Neerim or Koornang/Turganni intersections, creates an inherently high risk situation that is difficult to reconcile with accepted good traffic management concepts.
  • Closing the laneway to through vehicle traffic will have minimal impact on motorists both in terms of time/distance and traffic volumes. Not closing the laneway to through vehicle traffic will have a major impact in terms of time/distance (approx. 500m – as it will involve accessing the School either by Neerim Road (North) or by the Crossover (South) then “doubling back”).   This extra time/distance, combined with the safety issue may well result in increased traffic congestion as parents opt to drive rather walk their children to school.

  • Council’s stated intention to install speed humps during the 20016/17 Financial Year
    • Is an expensive solution (vs. a simple bollard – $400 estimated), and
    • Does not address the principal issue, ie. the presence of through vehicular traffic, travelling at relatively low speeds and not giving way to cyclist/pedestrians, and
    • In the absence of definitive timeline (eg. July, 2016 vs. June, 2017), allows a high risk situation, that has existed beyond its use by date to remain unaddressed for an indefinite period.
    • The cost of installing the proposed speed humps is not known as Council, surprisingly was unable to provide the information (15/3/2016 Public Question Extract).
  • Council’s inclusion of the Koornang/Graceburn laneway (via the Councillor’s unanimous resolution for a Report on the Koornang/Shepparson laneway) is questionable since, during the past 11 months, neither the residents nor GERA have implied, or raised, any safety issue regarding the Koornang/Graceburn laneway.

Both GERA and residents, agree with Council, that Koornang/Graceburn laneway’s sharp right angle corner and partially paved surface makes it “not trafficable” to modern through vehicular traffic.   Additionally, it lacks the smooth concreted surface (installed by Council approx. 3 years ago) and straight, clear line of sight that exists in the Koornang/Shepparson section of the Koornang/Tranmere laneway.    A more appropriate comparison would be with the Elliot/Tranmere section, since both are of the same dimensions (length and width), are a confined by high solid fencing and provide a straight, clear line of sight.  A permanently installed aged bollard, which prevents through traffic in the Elliot/Tranmere section, being a major difference.

 GERA makes the following points with regards the options presented by Manager, Strategic Transport

  • For the reasons outlined above, the validity of the inclusion of the Koornang/Graceburn laneway in a objective risk management assessment of the Koornang/Shepparson laneway section is seriously challenged.   As are the implications
    • that because the Koornang/Graceburn laneway is used to provide rear vehicular property access it cannot be closed and therefore neither can the Koornang/Shepparson laneway, and
    • that the “restriction of access to the laneways, by way of erecting a barrier, such as a gate or bollard(s) …. Would be a permanent arrangement that applies at all times. The process does not enable the bollards to put in place only at specific times”.

Bollards may be permanent or temporary and it is conceivable that bollard placement and removal could be included in the duties of the Council’s School Crossing Supervisor.

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  • GERA believes that designating the Koornang/Shepparson laneway section as one-way traffic only (direction yet to be specified) in an attempt to reduce vehicle volumes will yield an uncertain outcome. Signage by itself does not restrict vehicle access.  While we acknowledge that one-way designations are a known traffic management treatments for  “rat runs”,  to be effective in managing traffic flows they require an opposite direction one-way designation in close proximity.  Since this is not available, GERA supports the recommendation not to implement this option.
  • Similarly, as per GERA’s previous posting, designating the laneway as a Share Zone is not a preferred option. While a Shared Zone acknowledges that vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians share a common space,
    • It’s advantage is that at all times cyclists and pedestrians have legally enforceable rights of way over vehicles and vehicle speed limits are usually restricted to 10 kph.
    • However, It’s disadvantage is that it does not prohibit through vehicle traffic and therefore, GERA and residents do not support it’s implementation
  • Council’s preferred option is to restrict turns accessing and exiting the laneway, at various times during the day, via signage. However, as mentioned previously this does not restrict vehicle access and unless monitored by a traffic infringement officer is unlikely to provide a long term solution.  There is a definite probability that motorists, who consider it acceptable to use the laneway for through access while it is occupied by cyclists/pedestrians, will continue to use the laneway regardless of the signage.  Therefore, GERA and residents do not support it’s implementation.

In summary, GERA urges Councillors making a decision on the most appropriate and effective option for eliminating the risks within the Koornang/Shepparson laneway section to take a step back and undertake an objective assessment of the issue.  Quite frankly, both the situation and the most appropriate solution are so simple that many are scratching their heads wondering why after 11 months the issue has yet to be addressed.

  • The situation is that a small number of vehicles (ie. 3) consider it acceptable to use the laneway as a time saving short cut during peak school access times and by doing so create a an unacceptable level of risk for cyclists and pedestrians. Combine this usage with motorists sporadically failing to exercise the level of caution expected by Council and that level of risk escalates to beyond unacceptable.
  • The solution is to prevent through vehicle usage during peak school access times by installing a vehicle blocking barrier (eg. gate or bollard) and no through road signage during specified time periods.

 Whether it’s a gate or bollard installed as a temporary or permanent barrier is open.  However, aside from giving a high priority (ie. within a month) to the installation of either a gate or bollard. we urge Councillors to give consideration to the following

  • Bollard (at an estimated cost of $400) will be as effective as a gate and less costly vs. a gate which requires a support posts (bollards?) and design features that will not impede cyclists, pedestrians with strollers or those with mobility disabilities.
  • While the current discussion has focused on peak school usage, the Koornang/Shepparson laneway section is also used on a daily basis, during off peak school access hours, by not only through vehicle traffic but also by cyclists/pedestrians/disabled accessing the Koornang Road bus service, the local convenience stores/services near Truganni Road and the Route 67 tram service. This cyclist/ pedestrian/disabled usage should be considered when determining temporarily or permanently closing the laneway to through vehicle traffic.

CHILD AND PEDESTRIAN SAFETY – ACCESS TO CARNEGIE PRIMARY

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.

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Composite

  • 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.

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  • 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.

Street Directory

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.

Eastern Side Laneway Access

Western Side Laneway

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.

Laneway Streets and Zones

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.