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Canberra still learning how to design shareways

Paul Costigan 22 July 2015 58

Bunda-P1120328

I recently took the opportunity to observe the new shareway along Bunda Street.

When I first arrived I watched a large bus make its way at speed along the street. Not surprisingly, pedestrians did not insist on their right of way over the oncoming hulk of metal.

I also saw several cars and small trucks that didn’t realise (or care?) that they did not have right of way. Many were driving at over 20km per hour. Consequently, pedestrians had to step back to allow them to pass. Pedestrians also did well to notice a cyclist’s rapid advance and allow him to pass.

Bunda-P1120307

It was up to the pedestrians to insist on their right of way or to choose the safer option of waiting for a space in the traffic. However, pedestrians seemed more comfortable to venture out and assert their right of way in areas where the the road had a raised surface.

Shareways work best when the street infrastructure is kept simple. Unfortunately, allowing for parked cars along Bunda Street (as opposed to only having a few loading zones) has cluttered up the kerbsides too much.

In addition, I am sure the architectural designers liked Bunda Street’s over-the top iron clad garden features, but all they seem to achieve is to add to the visual clutter.

As for all that distracting painted road decoration, the less said the better—except to say that it also adds to the distractions. This is a concern when being observant and watchful of others is so important.

There are more successful, less intrusive and more appropriate approaches to adding plants and the necessary infrastructure along shareways. As with any good design solution, the best advice is to keep it simple!

Before I venture too far in offering more negative comments about this shareway, let me say that they are a welcome alternative to the usual dominance of the automobiles on our urban streets.

Given that such initiatives are uncommon in Australia, it is even more important to get the basics of the design right. Unfortunately Bunda Street is only marginally successful due to the use of confusing design features. We can do a lot better!

Likewise in Dickson, 40km per hour zones have been introduced in most of the streets within the shopping precinct. This is a good thing and well overdue. But the new signage and traffic slowing devices are minimal and suggest that those who implemented the change did not really believe in the slowing down of cars. As a result, traffic speeds have not changed that much.

Dickson-P1120496

The worst example of ineffective signage is just off Cowper Street where the sign is positioned far to the left, almost into the nearby trees. I doubt many drivers have seen it. But then again, maybe the sign was meant to slow down pedestrians on the footpath!

No matter how many signs and other traffic controlling techniques are applied to our streets, getting people to understand shareways remains a challenge in Australia.

We live in a culture whereby automobiles reign supreme. All other forms of travel, especially walking, can be very dangerous activities when you need to share public spaces with cars. It is not uncommon to see pedestrians caught half way across a street being challenged by a vehicle that appears suddenly around the corner or from elsewhere that then demands the road at all costs.

There are protocols on most occasions, but not all, for how we pass each other as pedestrians. But once one of us in a car, watch out— they are coming through no matter what!

I hope that our government’s roads people assess these initiates very soon and work out what should be improved. The design for shareways requires designers who understanding simplicity and that extraneous clutter and decorations are not part of the solution.

I encourage the introduction of more shareways across Canberra but it must be done using more effective designs.

It would be good to hear about other experiences of shareways in Canberra and elsewhere.


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Canberra still learning how to design shareways
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Madam Cholet 4:54 pm 22 Jul 15

I agree with your comment on the 40 zones. In Tuggers where I live, the 40 zones are policed with the use of speed bumps, which make it impossible to get over about 20ks before you get to the next one.

In the city however on London Circuit at surrounds there are no speed reducing mechanisms and as a consequence most drivers, including the police from the city station on London Circuit drive at 60 or above. I have notified numerous people, including ACT police, Shane Rattenbury and Joy Burch who have all promised to look into it. That was a quite some time ago.

If the police can’t drive to the speed limit the. Who else is going to!

bryansworld 4:43 pm 22 Jul 15

Can someone help me, I am not sure which grocery stores or schools are located on Northbourne Avenue.

I am left wondering if dungfungus is one of those people who thinks that car registration covers road maintenance.

Maybe it’s also time to do a study of the impact on roads of large 4WDs versus compact cars versus bicycles. I’d happily pay registration for my bike if it was apportioned on this basis. I reckon about $5 a year!

Nilrem 4:04 pm 22 Jul 15

Innovation said :

Bunda St would have worked better if it was one way only with lots of chicanes to force vehicles to drive more slowly and regularly change direction. If people wanted two way traffic then they could have opened up City Walk to opposing one way traffic also – which would have increased activity along City Walk also. Parking should be limited to some sections only perhaps for disabled drivers and delivery vehicles.

If the whole of Bunda St is a shared zone – meaning that pedestrians have right of way – then the traffic lights on Bunda St are a nonsense. And I can understand why some heavy vehicles might need to use Bunda St but I cannot comprehend why buses are allowed down the street as one poster before noted.

I’m not convinced that the Government knows how to construct shared zones. The shared zone in the Weston carpark is an excellent example. There are unusual markings on the road that imply only some sections of each side of the road are shared zones and traffic isn’t slowed in any way meaning that drivers nearly always exert right of way.

Yep, the traffic lights under the airbridge ar the most bizarre thing. They undoubtedly contribute to the sense that many motorists have that they still have right of way when the lights are green!

Innovation 2:54 pm 22 Jul 15

Bunda St would have worked better if it was one way only with lots of chicanes to force vehicles to drive more slowly and regularly change direction. If people wanted two way traffic then they could have opened up City Walk to opposing one way traffic also – which would have increased activity along City Walk also. Parking should be limited to some sections only perhaps for disabled drivers and delivery vehicles.

If the whole of Bunda St is a shared zone – meaning that pedestrians have right of way – then the traffic lights on Bunda St are a nonsense. And I can understand why some heavy vehicles might need to use Bunda St but I cannot comprehend why buses are allowed down the street as one poster before noted.

I’m not convinced that the Government knows how to construct shared zones. The shared zone in the Weston carpark is an excellent example. There are unusual markings on the road that imply only some sections of each side of the road are shared zones and traffic isn’t slowed in any way meaning that drivers nearly always exert right of way.

Nilrem 1:54 pm 22 Jul 15

Those metal planter border don’t seem to achieve much, as two cars can still pass eachother in the narrower stretches of the Shareway.

tim_c 1:53 pm 22 Jul 15

Holden Caulfield said :

I don’t mind driving down Bunda Street, I usually find it more satisfactory than the frustration of unsynchronised traffic lights on Cooyong Street.

And I still happily drive down Bunda Street. I don’t have a problem with the shareway concept, but agree it has not been explained well.

For example, I wasn’t aware that there was a 20km/h speed limit as explained in the TAMS link Paul provided in his article.

Since the shareway opened common sense has dictated a much lower speed than even the usual 40km/h zones in Civic are necessary, but it would be good to point this out with some signage.

The raised entries to the shareway with metal barriers do a good job of interrupting the drivers’ mindset but this should be reinforced with a simple sign that reads something like:

20km/h shareway. Give way to pedestrians at all times.

Haven’t we had the discussion about the cars before and how that has left City Walk and Petria Plaza something of a dead zone?

I would hope Bunda Street remains open to car traffic, at the very least (perhaps not buses as in the photo above), and that the issues raised here can be resolved over time.

Signs won’t help – there is a shared zone out the front of Cooleman Court and signs saying “vehicles must give way to pedestrians”, but I’ve yet to see it happen. When I’m driving, I give way as required, and everyone just looks at me dumbfounded like “what are you waiting for?”

It is rather dangerous to mix the two with everyone giving way to everyone – if you want Bunda Street to be pedestrian friendly, close it off completely to motorised traffic.

And don’t put more spine-jarring speed bumps around – if drivers can’t control their vehicle at or below the sign-posted speed limit, they shouldn’t be granted the privilege of driving on public roads. I fear the day when all the truck and bus drivers start filing workers’ comp claims for their wrecked backs after having to jolt over all these mid-lane traffic islands all day every day of their working life.

Personally, most of those 40km/h zones in shopping areas made little difference to me (with the exception of Marcus Clarke St in the City during non-peak times) – I always drove at an appropriate speed for the situation, which was often less than 40km/h anyway, and I didn’t need to be told it was a “high pedestrian area” – I could already see that with my eyes! Why is our government handing out driving licences to people who can’t even see pedestrians?

And OP “It is not uncommon to see pedestrians caught half way across a street being challenged by a vehicle that appears suddenly around the corner or from elsewhere that then demands the road at all costs.” – the road rules state that a driver turning into a road must give way to all traffic on that road INCLUDING PEDESTRIANS CROSSING THE ROAD. Perhaps we just need a road rules test before handing out licences, and a few police who can enforce all the road rules without being restricted to enforcing only the speed limits. Traffic in Canberra is becoming more and more like that of undeveloped countries where road rules are not enforced, and often not even known/understood.

Nilrem 1:53 pm 22 Jul 15

I agree that maybe the Shareway needs more signs to alert motorists to the need to give way to pedestrians, and the lower speed limit. Perhaps also more measures to slow traffic, like bollards or speed humps would also be helpful. At the moment pedestrians are not prepared to risk stepping out in front of vehicles, because the vehicles are not giving way. Hello TAMS?

dungfungus 1:39 pm 22 Jul 15

bryansworld said :

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

bryansworld said :

dungfungus said :

The “shareway” in Bunda Street is just another reason why I avoid going into Canberra City.
Our city planners are pushing incredibly expensive square peg innovations in to round holes.
Just because they may work somewhere else doesn’t mean they will work here.
The light rail will be the “Mother of All” planning mistakes.

Yeah, because designing Canberra for the car has worked so well. Have you noticed that Northbourne Avenue is becoming a car park at peak hour?

It isn’t a problem compared to other cities in Australia – it could be a lot worse if planning for the motor car in Canberra wasn’t done in the early days.
Does it bother you and your bicycle brethren in your exclusive taxpayer-funded bike lanes? Do you pick-up your kids and the groceries on the way home with your bike?
If you think it is bad now, wait until the light rail “value added” high density housing goes up along the strip.
As I said in my earlier post, it will be The Mother Of All planning disasters.

“Do you pick-up your…groceries on the way home with your bike?”
Many times.

Yep, me too. And sometimes I pick up our smallest in our bike trailer, and the other kids ride. And sometimes I drive. I’m not interested in tribal warfare, just safe and effective transport infrastructuire for all. BTW, bike lanes are not “exclusive”. Anyone can use them Just like roads.

I was referring to the bike lanes in Northbourne Avenue and where they are abutting roads that were designed for registered motor vehicles.

bryansworld 12:13 pm 22 Jul 15

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

bryansworld said :

dungfungus said :

The “shareway” in Bunda Street is just another reason why I avoid going into Canberra City.
Our city planners are pushing incredibly expensive square peg innovations in to round holes.
Just because they may work somewhere else doesn’t mean they will work here.
The light rail will be the “Mother of All” planning mistakes.

Yeah, because designing Canberra for the car has worked so well. Have you noticed that Northbourne Avenue is becoming a car park at peak hour?

It isn’t a problem compared to other cities in Australia – it could be a lot worse if planning for the motor car in Canberra wasn’t done in the early days.
Does it bother you and your bicycle brethren in your exclusive taxpayer-funded bike lanes? Do you pick-up your kids and the groceries on the way home with your bike?
If you think it is bad now, wait until the light rail “value added” high density housing goes up along the strip.
As I said in my earlier post, it will be The Mother Of All planning disasters.

“Do you pick-up your…groceries on the way home with your bike?”
Many times.

Yep, me too. And sometimes I pick up our smallest in our bike trailer, and the other kids ride. And sometimes I drive. I’m not interested in tribal warfare, just safe and effective transport infrastructuire for all. BTW, bike lanes are not “exclusive”. Anyone can use them Just like roads.

Maya123 12:01 pm 22 Jul 15

dungfungus said :

bryansworld said :

dungfungus said :

The “shareway” in Bunda Street is just another reason why I avoid going into Canberra City.
Our city planners are pushing incredibly expensive square peg innovations in to round holes.
Just because they may work somewhere else doesn’t mean they will work here.
The light rail will be the “Mother of All” planning mistakes.

Yeah, because designing Canberra for the car has worked so well. Have you noticed that Northbourne Avenue is becoming a car park at peak hour?

It isn’t a problem compared to other cities in Australia – it could be a lot worse if planning for the motor car in Canberra wasn’t done in the early days.
Does it bother you and your bicycle brethren in your exclusive taxpayer-funded bike lanes? Do you pick-up your kids and the groceries on the way home with your bike?
If you think it is bad now, wait until the light rail “value added” high density housing goes up along the strip.
As I said in my earlier post, it will be The Mother Of All planning disasters.

“Do you pick-up your…groceries on the way home with your bike?”
Many times.

dungfungus 11:51 am 22 Jul 15

bryansworld said :

dungfungus said :

The “shareway” in Bunda Street is just another reason why I avoid going into Canberra City.
Our city planners are pushing incredibly expensive square peg innovations in to round holes.
Just because they may work somewhere else doesn’t mean they will work here.
The light rail will be the “Mother of All” planning mistakes.

Yeah, because designing Canberra for the car has worked so well. Have you noticed that Northbourne Avenue is becoming a car park at peak hour?

It isn’t a problem compared to other cities in Australia – it could be a lot worse if planning for the motor car in Canberra wasn’t done in the early days.
Does it bother you and your bicycle brethren in your exclusive taxpayer-funded bike lanes? Do you pick-up your kids and the groceries on the way home with your bike?
If you think it is bad now, wait until the light rail “value added” high density housing goes up along the strip.
As I said in my earlier post, it will be The Mother Of All planning disasters.

Holden Caulfield 11:43 am 22 Jul 15

I don’t mind driving down Bunda Street, I usually find it more satisfactory than the frustration of unsynchronised traffic lights on Cooyong Street.

And I still happily drive down Bunda Street. I don’t have a problem with the shareway concept, but agree it has not been explained well.

For example, I wasn’t aware that there was a 20km/h speed limit as explained in the TAMS link Paul provided in his article.

Since the shareway opened common sense has dictated a much lower speed than even the usual 40km/h zones in Civic are necessary, but it would be good to point this out with some signage.

The raised entries to the shareway with metal barriers do a good job of interrupting the drivers’ mindset but this should be reinforced with a simple sign that reads something like:

20km/h shareway. Give way to pedestrians at all times.

Haven’t we had the discussion about the cars before and how that has left City Walk and Petria Plaza something of a dead zone?

I would hope Bunda Street remains open to car traffic, at the very least (perhaps not buses as in the photo above), and that the issues raised here can be resolved over time.

Solidarity 11:15 am 22 Jul 15

I stay off it as the law of physics will always trump ACT road laws.

bryansworld 10:49 am 22 Jul 15

I’ve also been abused by someone in a motor vehicle for having the nerve to ride my bicycle down the shareway. Not a lot of sharing happening.

bryansworld 10:45 am 22 Jul 15

dungfungus said :

The “shareway” in Bunda Street is just another reason why I avoid going into Canberra City.
Our city planners are pushing incredibly expensive square peg innovations in to round holes.
Just because they may work somewhere else doesn’t mean they will work here.
The light rail will be the “Mother of All” planning mistakes.

Yeah, because designing Canberra for the car has worked so well. Have you noticed that Northbourne Avenue is becoming a car park at peak hour?

bryansworld 10:42 am 22 Jul 15

bd84 said :

Bunda Street goes nowhere and there’s no reason to drive down it as all other roads in the area provide better access so it should be closed to traffic, other than local traffic for vehicles of business owners and for deliveries which could be accessed by specified points.

The share way is a half a**ed job raised the pavement of only a couple of sections and kept all the on street parking that doesn’t need to be there which reduces visibility of pedestrians and makes traffic ignore the zone except in those raised areas. Then there’s the counter intuitive sections where the shared zone ends for 200 metres at the traffic lights under the airbridge to make pedestrians wait for the lights? If they wanted to do it, it should have been done properly.

The more pedestrians show their assertiveness in the zone forcing the traffic to stop, the more it will happen. People stopping and giving way to traffic allows the behaviour to continue.

Agreed. I ride regularly through there and see many cars doing 40-50 km/h through there. Unsurprisingly, pedestrians (and bikes) are not prepared to assert their rights. Two things that contribute to this are the raised intersections, which people think are the only shared zones, and the retention of parking down both sides. It’s a great idea, but needs more work. Maybe speed humps to slow the traffic down? I fear nothing will be done to imporve the situation until a pedestrian gets skittled. I hope I am wrong.

pink little birdie 10:17 am 22 Jul 15

To be fair most people avoided driving on Bunda Street before the shareway.
As a driver it was slow and irritating anyway particularly after the pedestrian crossing in the Canberra Centre went through

Paul Costigan 10:16 am 22 Jul 15

Dear bd84

I did not comment on the traffic lights under the airbridge at the Canberra Centre – but I agree leaving them there just does not make sense. Maybe they though the foot traffic between buildings is too high during peak times. Which points to the next issue – should Bunda Street be open to traffic?

I agree with you – the whole street should not be open to general traffic – it should be for service vehicles only.

I remain positive about this initiative – the shareway is a great concept. But Bunda Street is not well designed. Shame really.

bd84 9:54 am 22 Jul 15

Bunda Street goes nowhere and there’s no reason to drive down it as all other roads in the area provide better access so it should be closed to traffic, other than local traffic for vehicles of business owners and for deliveries which could be accessed by specified points.

The share way is a half a**ed job raised the pavement of only a couple of sections and kept all the on street parking that doesn’t need to be there which reduces visibility of pedestrians and makes traffic ignore the zone except in those raised areas. Then there’s the counter intuitive sections where the shared zone ends for 200 metres at the traffic lights under the airbridge to make pedestrians wait for the lights? If they wanted to do it, it should have been done properly.

The more pedestrians show their assertiveness in the zone forcing the traffic to stop, the more it will happen. People stopping and giving way to traffic allows the behaviour to continue.

dungfungus 8:13 am 22 Jul 15

The “shareway” in Bunda Street is just another reason why I avoid going into Canberra City.
Our city planners are pushing incredibly expensive square peg innovations in to round holes.
Just because they may work somewhere else doesn’t mean they will work here.
The light rail will be the “Mother of All” planning mistakes.

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