30 December 2022

Growing pains drive Harrison residents to braking point

| Lottie Twyford
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Harrison residents want the speed limit on the busy Nullarbor Avenue lowered to 50 km/h. Photo: Google Maps.

Harrison residents have become the latest to take local road safety issues to the ACT Government in the hopes that something will change before someone gets injured.

Two separate petitions have been lodged with the ACT Legislative Assembly urging changes in Nullarbor Avenue in Harrison.

Specifically, petitioners are calling for the speed limit on what they say is a busy suburban street to be reduced to 50 km/h, down from the current limit of 60.

They say that 60 is too high for a road that is home to a school, school zone (Harrison School), playing fields, the heritage-listed Well Station farmstead and suburban houses, and near Mother Teresa Primary School and Mullion Park.

“The street was originally a cul-de-sac. With the opening of the street to Well Station Drive, the street is seeing higher and higher use and high speed through traffic,” the petition reads.

“This through traffic poses a safety risk to residents, other vehicle users of the street, including bus services, and the large number of community pedestrians such as school children walking along the street to attend school or sporting events.

“The high speed through traffic is also causing extra and unnecessary neighbourhood noise, making it difficult for residents living on the street to cross the road, exit and enter their driveways and park.”

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A second, similar petition is also before the government.

“There is major traffic congestion around the drop-off and pick-up times of both schools and the childcare centre in the area. Issues include the lack of pedestrian crossings, insufficient lanes for queueing traffic into schools, and insufficient parking facilities,” the second petition reads.

“These issues have led to frustrated motorists choosing dangerous driving behaviour, which is resulting in a concerning number of near misses. We are concerned that, if these traffic safety issues are not addressed immediately, future incidents could result in serious injury or death.”

It also calls on the Assembly to acknowledge the increase in traffic in the area due to development and reassess the safety of the precinct as a whole, particularly around the Harrison Education Precinct.

These petitioners want the government to thoroughly study the area and make the “necessary changes” to streets, including adding pedestrian crossings, adding additional lanes and parking facilities for increased pedestrian, motorist and cyclist safety.

Their petition also suggests additional works like a recessed bus bay and wombat crossing (a pedestrian crossing on a raised platform) to ensure student safety when crossing and additional road barriers.

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Gill King, a long-time campaigner for lower speed limits (down to 30 km/h) with the Living Streets Canberra group, was unsurprised to see yet another petition calling on the government to improve road safety.

Ms King said Canberra’s problem is that the city continues to favour vehicles over all other modes of transport.

“Our city’s streets should be safe, comfortable and accessible to everyone no matter their mode of transport, age, gender or anything else,” she said.

“The city remains geared towards driving … our roads are wide, the corners are wide … and that won’t change unless we improve the condition of the roads and encourage people to take public transport.”

But Ms King said the government should not be going out and taking the expensive “piecemeal” approach to road safety by simply trying new initiatives.

She’s adamant the best way to improve things is by talking to local communities who understand and are acutely aware of the issues in their neighbourhood.

“In most cases, it’s locals who know how to fix these problems because they live with them,” Ms King said.

“If the community is the one who makes the changes, they are also all more likely to abide by their new rules.”

She said the issues now emerging in Harrison will likely become increasingly prevalent as Canberra grows unless something is done.

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Good luck to Harrison residents at getting this ACT government to consider pedestrians, who they seem to regard as a nuisance. We’ve been trying to get consideration for pedestrians in the Kingston / Griffith / Narrabundah areas for years!

On Canberra Avenue there is no pedestrian crossing, traffic light, underpass or overpass to allow people (including kids) to cross 4 lanes of fast moving traffic to get to and from school if they live in Kingston and attend the 2 schools across the road in Griffith. There is a crossing in Fyshwick on Canberra Avenue and another in Manuka on Canberra Avenue, but none near the schools or going to Kingston. How stupid is that?

It was ok when traffic was light, but cars in Canberra have multiplied massively in the last 10 years as urban density has increased. Isn’t it time the ACT government upgraded infrastructure to deal with the issues caused by higher density?

They planned the increased density but seem not to have considered the need to improve infrastructure to suit. They continually talk about active travel, but have priorities for cars that ensure kids and their parents cannot safely walk to school, across main roads or from one suburb to another.

Its called Avenue for a reason.

Its like the people don’t read the plans when they buy the place.

If its so hard to reverse out, install a turn table.

The complaint lost me when they said Nullarbor Ave was originally a cul-de-sac. Like WTF? Sure when first built it didn’t go through to Well Statio drive and it ended at a dead end (obviously) but that doesn’t mean that it was a cul-de-sac and that it was never built with the intention of it being a through road.

Though would agree a 50km/h limit would seem logical and align with the speed limits on other similar through suburb main roads.

Avenue is just a wide tree lined street. What is the point you’re trying to make? People walk down and across avenues safely in well-designed cities, rather than ones that put cars before residents, visitors and people in general.

We seem to have a problem with town planners who focus on buildings, cars and traffic flow, whilst ignoring the needs of people to get around their neighbourhood and live their lives in a safe and healthy way.

Capital Retro5:58 pm 02 Jan 23

The only solution is to reduce the speed limit to 50kmh and enforce it by fixed radar detectors. Spped humps do not work.

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