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.”
“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.
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.