31 March 2022

Lyneham kids face 'stomach-flipping' journey to school due to car park placement

| Lottie Twyford
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child on bike crossing road between cars

Every morning on the way to school, Kate Bradney and her six-year-old daughter are confronted with this as cars enter the Brindabella car park. Photo: Kate Bradney.

An inner north Canberra mum says she is at her “wits’ end” with the dangers and difficulties facing her six-year-old daughter as the pair attempt to navigate the streets around her school every morning and afternoon.

Kate Bradney’s main issue is the placement of the Brindabella Christian College (BCC) car park entrance and exit on Brigalow Street.

“Cars cross over the footpath and the makeshift zebra crossing to drop off and pick up their own kids at a time when it is busy with students,” she explained.

“Often, BCC drivers get frustrated because they have to wait for such a long time and that makes it more difficult for other kids to cross over.

“It primarily concerns students from Lyneham Primary School who usually walk and cycle to school along that road.”

Ms Bradney’s problem isn’t with BCC parents as she knows it’s not their fault, either. It’s all about the placement of the car park.

On one occasion last year, Ms Bradney was (gently) bumped by a distracted, albeit apologetic, BCC driver.

Earlier this year she saw the closest near miss yet, when a seven-year-old riding their bike to school was almost hit by a distracted four-wheel driver.

“My stomach just flipped – I was too far away to do anything about it,” she said.

READ ALSO Red Hill intersection typical of unsafe streets for schoolchildren, campaigner says

It’s not the first time concerns about the road have been raised.

A College spokesperson said it had raised a number of proposals over the years regarding development of a car park off the road, including most recently a proposal for a ‘Car Park and Kiss & Drop’ which would have taken the congestion off the main road and straightened the dog-leg footpath between the college and Lyneham Primary School.

However, the spokesperson said this plan had been “derailed”.

Ms Bradney said this particular issue fitted in with broader pedestrian safety problems in the area.

In fact, a driver was charged last December over the death of an 84-year-old pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle on a pedestrian crossing near the intersection of Brigalow and Hall Streets in Lyneham at about 5:30 pm in June 2021.

But Ms Bradney said poor planning like this and unsafe streets were not unusual in Canberra – where more than a third of current e-petitions lodged to the ACT Government related to keeping children safe on the roads.

Locals in Watson and Kambah have lodged petitions asking for traffic calming actions, including zebra crossings and the like, to be added in their suburbs.

“It is an issue that is endemic across the Territory – our residential streets, all over the ACT, are not safe for children to walk or ride to school,” she said.

It’s Ms Bradney’s view that this is in opposition to the ACT’s planning and transport guidelines which state that active travel should be prioritised in planning and development.

READ ALSO Federal Budget 2022: ACT snubbed again in infrastructure spend

A long-time campaigner on the issue, Gill King of Safe Streets to School, told Region Media earlier this month most Canberra parents perceive their children’s journey to school to be unsafe for at least part of the way.

The group wants to see slower speed limits near schools and improved crossings and signage.

Ms Bradney, with the support of Lyneham residents, has launched her own petition to the ACT Government asking it to conduct a traffic impact assessment of the area and find a solution that prioritises active travel.

Member for Kurrajong and Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti sponsored the petition.

A spokesperson for the ACT Government said they do take road safety seriously, especially around schools.

“We are aware of concerns regarding safety at Lyneham Primary School and have been liaising with Brindabella Christian College to identify an appropriate resolution,” they said,

In the meantime, the government says a school crossing supervisor is stationed on Brigalow Street to assist children to safely cross the road.

“We remind the community to take extra precautions when driving near schools,” they said.

However, Ms Bradney has been disappointed by the lack of action to date and is hopeful this petition can lead to something more tangible.

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I have a not very nice feeling in the bottom of my stomach every time I think about little kids and cars around schools. It is even worse when I see the attitude of some who believe that unless kids are in the “right place” that they are essentially fair game. How can you even think this way?…..

Install traffic lights at the pedestrian crossings. Problem solved! I know, I know, I’m a genius but this was a no-brainer!

Kate Bradney9:57 pm 03 Apr 22

Anyone keen to help, please sign this petition to ACT parliment (takes less than a minute to read and sign). https://epetitions.act.gov.au/CurrentEPetition.aspx?PetId=215&lIndex=-1

We are asking the Gov for a Traffic Impact Assesment, and a solution that keeps kids safe! We are hoping to set a precedent for Safe Active Travel to school in ACT. Thank you ACT!

“In the meantime, the government says a school crossing supervisor is stationed on Brigalow Street to assist children to safely cross the road.”

As another local who walks this route (and full disclosure, is local and knows Kate), that’s a bit misleading from the government.

There are indeed supervisors on the road itself, but the issue isn’t the crossings on the road, it’s the crossing on the footpath where the driveway goes into the BCC carpark. There’s a “pedestrian crossing” there that the BCC drivers don’t always honour. The paint is faded, and there are no bumps/etc. This is definitely not manned regularly (although I have seen someone, presumably from BCC, there once or twice).

To be fair to the drivers, given the lack of markings on the crossing, it must be hard to see (although it’s still crossing a footpath with lots of children, so you’d think you’d be a bit careful). Whoever maintains it needs a big kick up the bum.

This whole section of road at school pickup and drop-off is an absolute nightmare for everyone, pedestrians and drivers alike.

Also, BCC crying poor about their proposals being knocked back is a bit rich – a lot of locals have been burnt by their “generosity” before. You’d want to check the fine print of those proposals, because generally whatever they’re giving is about 1/100th of what they’re taking from you.

Crossing or no crossing, bumps or trafficable surface, vehicles entering or leaving a driveway MUST GIVE WAY to pedestrians using a footpath that crosses the driveway. Perhaps the ACT Government needs to stop handing out licenses to people who don’t/won’t obey basic road rules.

ChrisinTurner5:05 pm 01 Apr 22

It should not be legal to drop children closer than 300m from a school. They need the exercise anyway.

Kate Bradney7:50 pm 01 Apr 22

interestingly, in the DA response (post community feedback) that BCC put in for the expansion works in 2016, they put an argument to EPD, that they dont actually need to do a Traffic Impact Assesment, and one of the reasons they included was because they planned to action ‘mitigating’ strategies like encouraging kids to walk to BCC school and car pooling with other families…. Turns out that wasn’t followed through.

Great – just shift the same problem 300m down the road!

Ms Bradney better get used to being disappointed. I was disappointed by nothing being done on this issue over 25 years ago, after trying to cross on a marked pedestrian crossing one Sunday afternoon. Back then the Liberals were in charge. Remember them?

I predict nothing will be done in response to this issue now because it will involve challenge the motorists’ implied right to injure and maim as long as they have the security of keeping their nether regions warm in their chariot.

lynehamlover10:56 am 01 Apr 22

Well done Ms Bradney. That crossing is crazy and something needs to be done. I signed your petition.

BCC also need to be accountable.

Canberra Local5:27 pm 03 Apr 22

Yeah 100% but BCC accountable for what? They clearly don’t own the footpath or crossing so surely ACT Government need to pull their finger out and redevelop the entire street and crossings.

swaggieswaggie10:47 am 01 Apr 22

If you walk on the west side of Brigalow across the road from the school car park and just cross Brigalow at the Lollipop lady / man who is there most mornings (up towards Boyd) then what’s the problem? It might mean walking another 50 metres but your child’s life is worth that surely?

I was visiting my nieces and had similar issues in this exact spot as we walked to Lyneham Primary School at school drop off. As we were crossing the zebra crossing a car inched forward as we walked. The driver was fully aware of us, but seemed to be using their vehicle as a buffer to move us along, the complete lack of safety and consideration especially with children around left me absolutely dumbfounded.

Kate Bradney10:00 am 01 Apr 22

The petition to ACT Parliament for Safer Active Travel to School in Lynehem is available at epetitions.act.gov.au as well as many other communities trying to advocate for safer streets. We would be incredibly grateful for any support from fellow ACT residents, to help keep the youngest generation of vulnerable road users safe and prioritise safe active travel in the ACT. Thank you RiotACT for this article and helping to casting some spotlight on the issue!

https://epetitions.act.gov.au/CurrentEPetition.aspx?PetId=215&lIndex=-1

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