24 January 2023

Petition launched over traffic safety fears at Harrison education precinct

| Ian Bushnell
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Harrison School

Harrison School: chaotic traffic situation needs government attention, urges petition. Photo: Supplied.

Parents at Harrison School in Gungahlin fear a government failure to deal with an increasing and alarming number of traffic issues in the area could result in serious injury or even death.

School P&C roads and safety coordinator Shane Merry, who has two children aged six and nine, has launched a Legislative Assembly petition calling for an independent traffic study of the Harrison education precinct and for the ACT Government to implement any recommendations in the 2023-24 Budget.

Mr Merry said he was introduced to the school’s traffic chaos in 2020 when he was picking up his young son only to be sideswiped by a ute.

“It was quite a scary scenario,” he said, but other parents told him it was an ongoing situation at the school.

A previous campaign for government action managed to secure a study by Transport Canberra and City Services, but Mr Merry it used outdated data for the growing area.

The study, finalised about 18 months ago, made recommendations, but none had been acted on.

READ ALSO Bus timetable shake up as Canberra’s kids head back to the classroom

Mr Merry said the population had surged in recent years due to the development of apartment blocks. Enrolments at Harrison, with just under 2000 students, and nearby Mother Teresa School, about 800, had boomed.

As a result, the roads, car parks and footpaths in the area had experienced a significant increase in traffic and major congestion around the drop-off and pick-up times of both schools and the childcare centre in the area.

“Despite repeated requests for the ACT Government to reassess the traffic and road safety strategy of the precinct as a whole, we have been disappointed by the fragmented, localised response to date,” the petition says.

It lists the lack of pedestrian crossings, insufficient lanes for queueing traffic into schools, and insufficient parking facilities as key problems.

“These issues have led to frustrated motorists choosing dangerous driving behaviour, which is resulting in a concerning number of near misses,” the petition says.

Mr Merry said the P&C had spoken to local members Michael Pettersson, who sponsored the petition, Leanne Castley and Suzanne Orr, telling them that if something was not done they were going to hear about it on the radio, that there would be an unfortunate accident which could cost someone serious injury or even worse a death.

The petition says pedestrian and cyclist access in the precinct is also dangerous and needs to be upgraded.

READ ALSO Woden Community Service CEO calls for funding for driver education equity

Mr Merry said the school wanted to encourage students to walk and ride to school, but some parents did not trust that it was safe enough.

The petition also calls for a review of speed limits in the side streets adjacent to the schools and childcare centre.

Mr Merry said the apartment developments had also caused parking issues with many residents using the school car park, including those boarding light rail at the nearby stops.

He said students alighting from the tram also had to cross the road to the school through a roundabout.

The other issue the school had to contend with was its mobile Defence population, which required constant education efforts to keep families informed and safe.

The Harrison Education Precinct is bordered by Mapleton Avenue, Katoomba Street, Nullarbor Avenue and Flemington Road.

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Ban cars within certain distances of schools, except for physically disabled students. Kids can walk the last bit to the school if not the whole way, to keep the space around the school safe for pedestrians, whether kids or their parents.

ChrisinTurner5:31 pm 25 Jan 23

Where is the link to the petition?

ChrisinTurner1:12 pm 25 Jan 23

Unfortunately ACT Roads only seem to have one priority, “Keep the traffic moving”. Speed limits of 30 km/hr should apply on residential streets in Canberra, particularly around schools.

Rubbish ! 30km/hr is a crawl, how about teaching people about roads, you know like look to the right, look to the left look to the right again! soon will have horse’s again.

You’re kidding obviously. The Government has done nothing but slow down the traffic. Living in Turner you probably don’t have or need a car so wouldn’t be aware. The roads around Harrison School like most schools are a problem because everyone wants to drop off and pick up at the same time. The rest of the day there is no problem and it has a 40kmh limit. There are adequate Pedestrian crossings complete with someone who walks out and stops the traffic before and after school. The biggest problem is the lazy parents who want to cross where there is no crossing. Most live that close they should walk to the school and leave the car at home.

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