Slowing Down Traffic At Intersections Improves Pedestrian Safety
Victor P Taffa
Putting People First may seem a bit odd in this day and age of Internet Speed, IPod’s, Twitter, Face book, Search Engine Optimisation, or Former New South Wales Minister Ian McDonald’s Homebush V8 Races however to keep a normal perspective on life is the ability to cross a street safely.
When we grew up in Primary School we were taught to ‘Look to the Right then Look to the Left and Look to the Right Again.’ This message was pretty simple and easy to remember and by and large most people follow this rule.
Road deaths for motorists, truck drivers or pedestrians end up as being merely statistics as if it were a State Of Origin Football game.
As a Taxi Driver in Sydney for 4½ years not only did I improve my driving skills but also saw the worst habits that people perform when driving a potentially lethal weapon.
Since the introduction of signalised intersections at Market/Kent Streets in 1914 Sydney now has approximately 4,000 sets of signalised intersections that provides for 2 minutes to cross one side of a T or 4 Point Intersection. To cross in a diagonal fashion in the apron of the intersection would be a saving of 3 minutes at many intersections.
The ‘Scramble Crossing’ method as the Pedestrian Council’s Harold Scruby has described them would actually save time overall across Metropolitan Sydney.
‘Scramble Crossings’ should be allowed at EVERY signalised intersection in New South Wales. People should be able to cross a signalised intersection diagonally.
People should be Put First and People should be allowed to cross increasingly busy roads in safety. Now the response from the Speed Merchants would be to say that it would “slow down the traffic.”
The Roads and Traffic Authority (R.T.A.) has a centralised control system of signalised intersections. The RTA may say that it might “mess up our system.”
The Pedestrian Council supports Countdown Timers at intersections. The Pedestrian Council whispered that “The RTA wouldn’t like countdown timers because people would be horrified at having to wait for up to 2 minutes to cross a street.”
Perhaps attitudes from Transport Authorities is changing because 20 years ago there was a uniform speed of 60 Km/h on EVERY road in New South Wales.
Now we have limits of 70Km/h, 60Km/h, 50Km/h and School Zone 40 Km/h. The RTA seems to have a policy that suits the conditions and not a ‘One Zone Fits All’ approach.
20 years ago it would not have been imaginable that a 6 lane road such as Victoria Road outside Holy Cross College, Ryde would have a School Zone of 40 Km/h.
‘Scramble Crossings’ work well at George/Park/Druitt Street, Sydney and Macquarie/Smith Street, Parramatta Intersection.
Would ‘Scramble Crossings’ work everywhere? NO
- M4/Homebush Bay Drive does not have pedestrian access and would not suit a ‘Scramble Crossing.’
- Edgbaston Road/King Georges Road is a right turn only intersection and similarly would not suit a ‘Scramble Crossing.’
There is no reason why most T Intersections could not have ‘Scramble Crossings’ such as:
- Marsden Road/Lawson Street
- Blaxland Road/Florence Avenue
- Forest Road/Stoney Creek Road
4 Point Intersections:
There is no reason why most 4 Point Intersections could not have ‘Scramble Crossings’ such as:
- First Avenue/Rutledge Street
- Miller/Mount Streets/Pacific Highway
- Falcon Street/Pacific Highway/Shirley Road
- M5/King Georges Road has pedestrian access and could accommodate a ‘Scramble Crossing.’
There is no reason why most Y Intersections could not have ‘Scramble Crossings.’
Intersections such as King Georges Road/Princes Highway, Blakehurst has a park adjacent and there is no reason why this intersection could not have a ‘Scramble Crossing’ and also Blaxland Road/Lane Cove Road/Devlin Street.
Where there is pedestrian access from most sides of an intersection should be able to have ‘Scramble Crossings.’
Lives could have been saved if ‘Scramble Crossings’ were installed at EVERY signalised intersection. For example in recent times there were two cases at least in the last 3 years that ‘Scramble Crossings’ would have saved lives had they been allowed.
In July 2007 Jessica De Andrade was killed when crossing Botany Road at a signalised intersection and in May 2010 a 91-year-old man was also killed when crossing Gardeners Road at Racecourse Place using the pedestrian crossing controlled by traffic signals.
‘Scramble Crossings’ would more than likely have saved both lives had they of been introduced. While this measure will not bring down the road toll to zero it will make crossing the road safer for all.
‘Scramble Crossings’ do not have to have countdown clocks but noise activation to go on when traffic lights turn to red.
While stopping traffic at every point of the intersection will take an adjustment for the RTA to co-ordinate particularly for major roads such as Victoria and Parramatta Roads, Princes Highway it will make all signalised intersections safer for pedestrians.
J-Walking is still an enforceable offence and allowing for ‘Scrambled Crossings’ at every signalised intersection would not affect existing J-Walking laws.
Putting People First maybe foreign to some people but as with the introduction of other road safety measures it is all about saving lives.