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Canberra still learning how to design shareways

By 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.

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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.

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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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JC 10:04 am 24 Jul 15

H2O said :

NOTE! It’s NOT a shared zone people! You’re lucky my brakes work.

Shared Zone, despite the name doesn’t mean the zone is shared. In essence they are treated as one massive pedestrian crossing where your meant to give way to all pedestrians even if walking at a snails pace, crossing diagonally or doing what ever they like.

JC 10:01 am 24 Jul 15

Fritz said :

Bring on the election… hopefully Canberra will vote in a more intelligent and responsible government next time.

Got anyone in mind? A Liebral goverment lead by Jeremy Hanson would be an absolute and utter joke. All they know what to do is say the opposite to the current government in the hope of getting voted in by default, rather than actually presenting themselves as a viable alternative.

H2O 9:42 am 24 Jul 15

Genge Street

The number of times I’ve driven down Genge Street only to find pedestrians (mainly ATO staff), walking at a snail’s pace, with their morning caffeine fix, totally oblivious to vehicles.

NOTE! It’s NOT a shared zone people! You’re lucky my brakes work.

joingler 10:14 pm 23 Jul 15

I am perplexed as to what the benefit of a share zone is. Roads are for cars and footpaths are for pedestrians. Why are we trying to combine the two? What problems were occurring for pedestrians and/or drivers that resulted in the shareway being developed to fix the problem. As a pedestrian/cyclist using the area, I will always still stop and let cars pass first. Unless there is a marked pedestrian crossing, this is what I will always do.

I’d have thought Bunda St would make a good terminus for the light rail. Put the tracks down Bunda St with stops for the Canberra Centre and Garema Place with the final stop somewhere near the Casino. This would then be easier to extend the line towards Constitution Avenue to Russell and the airport (which government have indicated interest on doing).

Fritz 9:26 pm 23 Jul 15

countach said :

The Bunda shareware is a death waiting to happen, plain and simple. There is nothing good about it.

ACT Government irresponsibly promotes mixing traffic types – pedestrians on roads, bicycles on roads, pedestrians on bike paths… all of these situations are dangerous and, in Canberra, unnecessary. These combinations only lead to injury and death. We have roads for cars, bike paths for bicycles, and foot paths for pedestrians… leave it that way – don’t mix them.

The Bunda Street Shareway is yet another example of an expensive ACT Government idea that doesn’t work.

The train will be another. Another contributor mentioned that “Northbourne Avenue is a car park in peak hour” – with the train along it Northbourne Avenue will be significantly worse as the Government wants to increase population density and congestion along this road to help justify the train. As Northbourne Avenue is a key thoroughfare (both locally and interstate) into the city it will totally stuff-up traffic flow.

I wasn’t aware that the Government is planning on slowing down traffic around City Hill… this is yet another stupid idea.

Bring on the election… hopefully Canberra will vote in a more intelligent and responsible government next time.

ungruntled 6:40 pm 23 Jul 15

I am hearing what you are saying and agree to some extent. However, it would also be good if pedestrians were also able to show some consideration.
The number of occasions on which I have been at a crossing, where people cross from one section of the shopping centre to another, over a small road and seen people crossing in an unending stream. One by one by one. “Brown’s cows” was my mother’s description of it.
Very few pedestrians seem to think of making it possible for cars to pass as well.
As well as being a planning issue, it is a social issue. We all just need to be a little more considerate of each other.

agent_clone 5:48 pm 23 Jul 15

Personally for the shared zones I would put the diagona striped zebra crossing markings on the road for the shared zones like they have at the front of bunnings stores at least for a while. To me these would nicely indicate a shared zone and be a colour that should be reasonably visible at night… Whether or not it would actually do what it is meant to do would be another question though…

PeterC 2:56 pm 23 Jul 15

dungfungus said :

bryansworld said :

dungfungus said :

The “shareway” in Bunda Street is just another reason why I avoid going into Canberra City.

…Do you pick-up your kids and the groceries on the way home with your bike?…

“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.

Yep, and me too, not now, but when my daughter could pedal on the trailer-bike and was at childcare near my work.

countach 2:46 pm 23 Jul 15

The Bunda shareware is a death waiting to happen, plain and simple. There is nothing good about it. Personally I feel fearful crossing, which I didn’t before the changes. Before you knew where you stood, you didn’t expect cars to stop for you except at the designated crossings. Now you have no expectations, some cars insist on pushing through and trying to bowl you over, their speeds are way too high, and there is not enough traffic calming devices. It’s just an awful awful set of changes. Either close it completely to traffic, or put it back how it was. This half assed thing is plain awful.

rubaiyat 11:45 am 23 Jul 15

bryansworld said :

But we still have the steps to nowhere at the back of the Civic Library!

Yeah isn’t that weird?

I skirt the barriers and cross the murderous 3 lanes of speeding traffic to climb over City Hill and do the same on the other side.

Planning has proposed the steep and unwelcoming hill as the centrepiece traffic island of City to the lake. Their answer to the obvious problems this causes will be to slow the traffic right down, ignoring that it is still 3 lanes of busy traffic.

Personally I would divert the traffic under and be ruthless with City Hill. Flatten it, with car parking and a transport hub under. Make it a sunny partially sheltered park/piazza linking to the rest of the city with broad walkways, cafes and the fresh start to a real heart for Canberra.

Design it to shield it from winter winds, with taller buildings to the south and west whilst catching winter sun and give the city a breathing living space worthy of the Capital.

bryansworld 11:23 am 23 Jul 15

JC said :

JC said :

bryansworld said :

creative_canberran said :

Paul Costigan said :

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.

I wonder who actually owns that crossing and the traffic lights? It’s a bit hard to tell on ActMapi but I kind of assumed it was part of the Canberra Centre title. In which case the lights are there because of their lawyers.

So it’s official, the mega mall owns a big chunk of Ainslie Avenue? There goes that Griffin axis.

Your about 15-20 years late.

Actually make that 26+ years late. Of course one part of Ainslie Ave was closed when the first stage was built in the mid 80’s, with the otherside closed in the 2nd redevelopment.

But we still have the steps to nowhere at the back of the Civic Library!

JC 10:57 am 23 Jul 15

JC said :

bryansworld said :

creative_canberran said :

Paul Costigan said :

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.

I wonder who actually owns that crossing and the traffic lights? It’s a bit hard to tell on ActMapi but I kind of assumed it was part of the Canberra Centre title. In which case the lights are there because of their lawyers.

So it’s official, the mega mall owns a big chunk of Ainslie Avenue? There goes that Griffin axis.

Your about 15-20 years late.

Actually make that 26+ years late. Of course one part of Ainslie Ave was closed when the first stage was built in the mid 80’s, with the otherside closed in the 2nd redevelopment.

bryansworld 9:33 am 23 Jul 15

JC said :

bryansworld said :

creative_canberran said :

Paul Costigan said :

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.

I wonder who actually owns that crossing and the traffic lights? It’s a bit hard to tell on ActMapi but I kind of assumed it was part of the Canberra Centre title. In which case the lights are there because of their lawyers.

So it’s official, the mega mall owns a big chunk of Ainslie Avenue? There goes that Griffin axis.

Your about 15-20 years late.

I’ve looked, but have not been able find any documentation of the arrangement regarding Ainslie Avenue. There is something peculiar about it because there appears to be a right of way for bicycles through the part that goes from the traffic lights past Target to the bus stop?

bryansworld 9:31 am 23 Jul 15

JC said :

One point of order. Whilst the road rules do say vehicles etc must give way, no where does it say that anyone actually HAS right of way, so a bit hard to assert ones right of way.

Now before I get flammed, I do realise that in a shareway vehicles are meant to give way to pedestrians, but as mentioned that doesn’t mean pedestrians have right of way[/q

Maya123 said :

If it’s a shared area I can’t see that those lights should mean anything now and it should be okay to walk on red or green, because after all, this is a shared area. Because of that, I think those lights are dangerous, as they can be misleading. They need to be removed to ease confusion.

I think (need to be check) that there are signs indicating that the shared area does not include the traffic light area under the footbridge. Heavens knows why. Shammozzle!

JC 9:23 am 23 Jul 15

bryansworld said :

creative_canberran said :

Paul Costigan said :

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.

I wonder who actually owns that crossing and the traffic lights? It’s a bit hard to tell on ActMapi but I kind of assumed it was part of the Canberra Centre title. In which case the lights are there because of their lawyers.

So it’s official, the mega mall owns a big chunk of Ainslie Avenue? There goes that Griffin axis.

Your about 15-20 years late.

JC 9:22 am 23 Jul 15

Maya123 said :

If it’s a shared area I can’t see that those lights should mean anything now and it should be okay to walk on red or green, because after all, this is a shared area. Because of that, I think those lights are dangerous, as they can be misleading. They need to be removed to ease confusion.

If I am not mistaken the shared zone ends near Dobinsons, but would make sense to just extend the zone to the next intersection and do away with the lights.

bryansworld 8:58 am 23 Jul 15

creative_canberran said :

Paul Costigan said :

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.

I wonder who actually owns that crossing and the traffic lights? It’s a bit hard to tell on ActMapi but I kind of assumed it was part of the Canberra Centre title. In which case the lights are there because of their lawyers.

So it’s official, the mega mall owns a big chunk of Ainslie Avenue? There goes that Griffin axis.

Maya123 7:08 pm 22 Jul 15

If it’s a shared area I can’t see that those lights should mean anything now and it should be okay to walk on red or green, because after all, this is a shared area. Because of that, I think those lights are dangerous, as they can be misleading. They need to be removed to ease confusion.

JC 5:32 pm 22 Jul 15

One point of order. Whilst the road rules do say vehicles etc must give way, no where does it say that anyone actually HAS right of way, so a bit hard to assert ones right of way.

Now before I get flammed, I do realise that in a shareway vehicles are meant to give way to pedestrians, but as mentioned that doesn’t mean pedestrians have right of way

creative_canberran 5:04 pm 22 Jul 15

Paul Costigan said :

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.

I wonder who actually owns that crossing and the traffic lights? It’s a bit hard to tell on ActMapi but I kind of assumed it was part of the Canberra Centre title. In which case the lights are there because of their lawyers.

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