12 February 2018

Ask RiotACT: Slowing down the Hoons on Heysen Street

| Blen_Carmichael
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Hi Rioters,

If you’re familiar with the roundabout at the intersection of Heysen St / Bellente St / Hilder St, Weston, you may have a view on this.

I was travelling on Bellente Street recently, intent on entering the roundabout to turn left into Heysen Street. There was no traffic on the roundabout. But there was no way I was going to do so, because of an ACTION bus on Heysen Street approaching the roundabout at great speed (heading towards the Tuggeranong Pkwy overpass). The bus driver would have been obliged to give way to me had I entered the roundabout at that stage, but that’s of little satisfaction when I would have been t-boned. There was no way the bus driver could have stopped in time.

Like many road users, the driver probably wasn’t aware that road rules require any vehicle entering a roundabout to give way to traffic on the roundabout (I would have thought this was stressed at ACTION driver training, but that’s another matter). That said, I’m sure many flout the rule because they don’t want to slow down given the steep rise of Heysen Street just before Lyons. Whatever the case, it’s dangerous.

Before the roundabout was erected, there were chicanes in the area in question. Perhaps it’s time to consider similar traffic-calming measures.


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As a Canberra historian I would like to point out that Heysen St/Devonport St was never meant to be an arterial link between Woden and Weston Creek.

Devonport St was supposed to proceed north and link with Cotter Rd, however it stopped at a dead end when the streets in Lyons were built. Shortly after that, the suburb of Weston was planned and built, and Heysen St was supposed to link with Tuggeranong Parkway when it was built. But construction of the Parkway was delayed by the 1973-75 oil shock recession, so Heysen St was extended to link with the Devonport St dead end.

When Tuggeranong Parkway was finally built it was decided not to build an interchange linking Heysen St, and instead a bridge over Heysen St with no links was built.

That is interesting, especially as it is now taking load not just from weston creek but Molonglo.

Paul van Belkom11:44 am 17 Feb 18

You are right regarding the road rules at a roundabout. A driver must give way to any vehicle already in the roundabout, so in this case the bus driver legally must give way if you had entered the roundabout first.

If you had entered in front of the bus, you could have been killed, or the bus driver would have had to brake suddenly sending passengers through the windscreen. I would have taken down the rego number of the bus and reported the driver to ACTION and/or the police. I’ve got a dash cam in my car, so if it had been me, I would have sent the video to the police.

Having said all that, all drivers have a responsibility to drive defensively to avoid a collision, and self preservation is the paramount concern. If you had a collision with the bus and it ever went to court, you could still be deemed to have contributed to the accident, by not taking appropriate evasive action….luckily for you, you did 🙂

I’ve found that most drivers at roundabouts actually apply the GIVE WAY TO THE RIGHT RULE, which in some ways is common sense. There are pros and cons with both the road rule as it stands and the give way to the right rule. Personally, I’d prefer to see the law change to the latter……particularly when there is so much danger in a SMALLER roundabout, with both vehicles very close to each other!

There is no “give way to the right” rule. If there is, please provide a reference.

As discussed there is no give way to the right rule in roundabouts only giving way to people in the roundabout. However, in effect when waiting to safely enter a roundabout which direction will vehicles in the roundabout approach from?

I am confused by this, surely if you are turning left and faced with a situation where you cannot turn on safely then it is not “give way to vehicles on roundabouts” but failing to give way to your right that is the element of concern. That is the overarching rule of intersections especially as you are both faced with a give way sign for entering the roundabout. If you are going to enter a small roundabout but see a car on your right and deem it unsafe to enter, you give way to your right you dont jump out then claim to have right of way as this would be entering unsafely. Feel free to clarify if i have something wrong with this scenario.

I use this road most days (Molonglo to Woden) i find the chicane(downhill direction from roundabout) causes more issues than it helps. I have often caught the bus which often stops just down from the roundabout so is definitely not carrying speed at the point you mean most of the time.

Blen_Carmichael8:21 am 14 Feb 18

>>I am confused by this, surely if you are turning left and faced with a situation where you cannot turn on safely then it is not “give way to vehicles on roundabouts” but failing to give way to your right…<<

If you're saying that a driver is negligent for recklessly enforcing the obligation that the other driver give way even it means a collision, then I see what you mean. However, in this instance it is not a case of 'failing to give way to your right". Often as a matter of course you would give way to vehicles that are on your right – but only because they have entered the roundabout before you. The "overarching rule" of roundabouts is to give way to traffic already on the roundabout, not to give way to your right. It's a straightforward rule, but one of the most misunderstood ones.

When entering giving way to vehicles “in the roundabout” translates poorly from multi lane roundabouts to small ones but is still instructing people to give way to vehicles to their right. In effect this is where the vehicles already on the roundabout will be coming from. Ie dont enter untill there is a safe gap in the traffic stream.

I still disagree with your arguments. If there wasnt space for you to enter the roundabout without in your words “being t-boned” there wasnt time for you to safely enter before the bus and you are obliged to give way, ” drivers must take reasonable action to avoid collisions” (as discussed in Paul’s post). To be t-boned, you were entering..not (circulating) in the roundabout so why would the bus have to give way to you?

Again i may be misinterpreting..you were turning left and the bus driver going straight through the roundabout is this correct?

Clearly a lot of this is tied up in how fast the bus was going which was probably the original point of the post. Regardless it sounds like you did as expected of you under the road rules.

I use the full length of Heysen St a few times each week. While I have seen far worse than the example you gave, such as overtaking on the blind crest, I share your concerns.

Blen_Carmichael6:25 pm 14 Feb 18

Overtaking on the blind crest? You’re not wrong that’s far worse.

I used to live on Heysen Street over 40 years ago. Even then it was a mini-race track. Only the car numbers have changed.

Blen_Carmichael3:02 pm 13 Feb 18

I didn’t realise I’d be inundated with opinions! 🙂

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