20 March 2019

Police record nearly 50 incidents of jaywalking in one hour across light rail tracks

| Lachlan Roberts
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Chief Police Officer Ray Johnson has concerns about pedestrian safety around the light rail corridor. Photos: George Tsotsos.

ACT Policing is urging pedestrians to be more aware of their surroundings after officers witnessed 49 separate jaywalking incidents in an hour at the intersection of Northbourne Avenue and Alinga Street along the light rail corridor.

Over a one hour period, high visibility patrols issued 58 cautions – 49 to pedestrians who did not comply with pedestrian crossing lights, seven cyclists not wearing helmets and two cyclists going through red lights.

Chief Police Officer Ray Johnson said the intersection of Northbourne Avenue and Alinga Street was selected as it is statistically the highest area for vehicle collisions with pedestrians in the ACT and labelled the pedestrian’s actions as “very dangerous and totally unnecessary”.

Speaking to ABC Canberra this morning, CPO Johnson warned jaywalking across the light rail track could lead to fatal consequences.

“Part of our concern as we prepare ourselves for the opening of the light rail, we had traffic members in uniform with reflective high visibility vests spend some time on an intersection along the light rail corridor over the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“In an hour’s period, they identified 58 different breaches of road rules by pedestrians primarily.

“49 of those were jaywalking and the like. This told us that perhaps people were getting away with it, by not getting hit by cars and the like, but the light rail brings in another part of that.”

Two weeks ago, a man was taken to hospital after he was hit walking across the light rail network on a red signal and with headphones in and CPO Johnson warned against other pedestrians doing the same.

“On the face of it, that might seem safe enough to cross but it’s not,” he said. “It does raise my concerns about pedestrians thinking about their own personal safety, particularly around light rail.

“It is time to enforce the importance of careful, appropriate and legal pedestrian crossing on roads because the light rail will increase the danger of taking an extra step if they aren’t paying attention.

“Historically, about 10 per cent of pedestrian incidents on the road occur on Northbourne Avenue, so it is already one of our higher touch points in term of pedestrian safety.

“Everybody has a responsibility but pedestrians absolutely need to obey road rules.”

With the light rail network set to launch on 20 April, CPO Johnson reminded Canberrans it is an offence to enter a pedestrian crossing against a red light with a fine of $151 and urged pedestrians to show extra care.

“I think the message in the early days of light rail is to pay double attention,” he said. “It brings another aspect into the driving and walking around Civic and Northbourne Avenue.

“We encourage everybody till they get comfortable with light rail and how it works to be doubly careful, to follow the crossing signs, to follow the speed limits, not to cross in front of light rail vehicles against red lights and pay careful attention when they are on the rails.”

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It might be a good idea to get cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes across the tracks. It is easy to get wheels locked and jammed in the tracks. I already dismount and walk the bike when I’m crossing a road at lights.

Fortunately from the Melbourne tram experiment we have learned that humans will learn to survive and those who scrape themselves up from the remnants of the light rail hitting pedestrians destruction will erect large and beautiful monuments to those less fortunate.

I don’t agree that they should have been only given a caution, they should have been hit with a ticket for breaking the law. Its time that police take responsibility for the laws they have been entrusted to protect and enforce and stop paying lip-service to the ones that are inconvenient to their run to the coffee shop to pick up more donuts.

Oh dear! How horrific!! Never mind the speeders, the phone users, the tailgaters, the red light runners, the unregistered, the unlicensed nor the bikies shooting up the place, torching cars and bashings, the jaywalkers must answer for their crime. ACT “Policing” is a total farce.

Is it about time the ACT began looking at physically separating pedestrians from wheeled traffic? Subways and overhead bridges are just one method – for the pedestrians. But why not for the wheeled vehicles. Do we really need a 3 lane highway running through our civic centre. Road tunnel from Northbourne under the hill to Commonwealth Avenue anyone?

Even if pedestrians obey the signals, Light Rail already has a record of running red lights. So we’re all at risk regardless.

So why are people being cautioned for running red lights? What a joke.

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