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