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.
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.
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.