An intersection near Red Hill Primary School must be changed, according to local residents who say it’s unsafe for young children.
The Safe Streets to School campaign group says the intersection at La Perouse Street and Carnegie Crescent is symptomatic of a streetscape and town plan which has prioritised motorists, and not schoolchildren, for too long.
Founder of the campaign’s Canberra chapter – and local resident – Gillian King says the ACT’s streets are “not safe for children to walk or ride to school or even to catch public transport”.
Ms King says it’s detrimental to children’s health, fitness and independence, and unhealthy for the environment because children are often driven to school over short distances instead of walking or riding.
“At the moment, parents perceive that their child’s journey to school is unsafe for at least part of the way.”
She says there are multiple issues at the intersection – it’s busy, drivers tend to speed and often don’t stop at stop signs on La Perouse Street.
“On top of that, you’ve got people trying to cross on both sides. Sometimes this means drivers on the through road – Carnegie – will stop or slow down to let people cross, even though the drivers coming from the other direction might not,” she says.
“Then you end up with an extra problem when kids expect all cars to stop on that road even though they may not all do that.”
Other parents say their children find the intersection too difficult to navigate alone. Large trucks speeding around corners are also creating concern.
Ms King says the problem extends well beyond the Red Hill intersection. Her group wants a universal fix, not a piecemeal approach.
“We’re calling for signs and crossings or slower streets within two kilometres of schools. There’s a lot of evidence to show that is safer for children.
“We want uniform changes so kids can get to school safely. This is a symptom of a systemic problem.”
The Canberra Liberals have jumped on board the Red Hill issue.
Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee says the intersection should be fixed as a “matter of urgency” to make it safer for all road users, especially children.
Ms Lee says the intersection is unsafe for children who want to walk, scooter or cycle to school. A number of recent crashes and near misses show it’s also dangerous for drivers.
“When the primary users of the area are primary school-aged children we must take every precaution to keep them safe and we must do this urgently,” she says.
Ms Lee has launched a petition in the ACT Legislative Assembly on behalf of residents calling on the ACT Government to upgrade the intersection.
But Ms King says there’s no point fixing one intersection in one suburb alone – and it shouldn’t take a residents’ group in every area to get it done.
“Every single street should be safe for our kids,” she says.