Worst shared zone on the planet?

Sgt.Bungers 20 November 2010 29

Childers Street, City West, has recently been modified. The road’s pinch points have been removed, the speed limit has been dropped from 30km/h to a 10km/h shared zone… (makes sense to speed a road up then tell pedestrians they may legally meander across whenever they like…)

There are still centre lines painted on the road, a redundant pedestrian crossing still exists, which is only going to cause confusion. On a road where drivers are not permitted to operate their motor vehicle at above 10km/h, are centre lines really necessary? Pedestrians have the same rights as though in motor vehicles to be on the road for the entire length of the shared zone, hence the pedestrian crossing is unnecessary.

After some observations for the last few days, it looks as though the majority of motor vehicle operators are travelling at 40-50km/h… well above the posted 10km/h.

Not surprising really… and this particular shared zone has the similar road markings that we’ve all been used to for decades… encouraging driver confidence and higher speeds through a pedestrian heavy area… real smart ACT Gov/ANU. Whoever designed, approved, then built this horrendous example of shared space is apparently trying to get somebody killed.

As someone who walks in this area regularly, I have been utilising the road like any pedestrian… a second class citizen with no rights. We must give way to those in machines because… well I’m not sure really… that’s the way it’s always been.

Today I decided to test my legal right an equal human being on this brief 100m long stretch of road. As I approached the road, I checked left and right, as we’ve had drilled into us since we were kids. A vehicle was approaching at several times the 10km/h speed limit… the driver had passed at least once large electronic billboard flashing “shared zone, give way to pedestrians” as well as other shared zone signs. The vehicle would not have been what I would’ve considered close… far from it. Plenty of time to slow down to even triple the speed limit and let me completely clear the thoroughfare before passing… but no. As I stepped off the curb, the driver did not slow down from ~50 odd km/h and lay on the horn. I stopped… the driver did not slow down in the slightest, passing me within cm at a speed where if I had stumbled would have either severely injured or killed me. I did have a few choice words to shout at the time… including something about a shared zone, one expletive.

Bit of a terrifying shared zone experience really… thought I might get a horn blown at me out of ignorance… but didn’t think I’d come so close to being run over.

Did not grab the number plate unfortunately.

So who’s to blame here?
-The ACT Gov/ANU for allowing the world’s worst and most confusing shared zone to be built?
-The driver who was not only travelling at 4-5 times the speed limit, but apparently thought fit to scare another human being with a 1.5 tonne machine?
-Or me, for daring to venture out into a shared zone as a mere, pathetic, lowly pedestrian?

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29 Responses to Worst shared zone on the planet?
Henry82 Henry82 5:06 pm 01 Sep 11

TWK said :

Sorry to dig up such an old thread, but has anyone noticed it’s changed again? Speed limit has been upped to 20, with no mention of a shared zone on any of the new signs.

i don’t think it will make any difference. I’ve never seen a car go *slower* than 50km/hr there.

TWK TWK 5:03 pm 01 Sep 11

Sorry to dig up such an old thread, but has anyone noticed it’s changed again? Speed limit has been upped to 20, with no mention of a shared zone on any of the new signs.

pete74au pete74au 6:02 pm 24 Nov 10

10 kph for shared zones is the norm.. However why are push bikes allowed to speed in shared zones and on footpaths. The ACT is the only jurisdiction that has shared zones at high speed but only for pushies.

JD Eere JD Eere 1:32 pm 22 Nov 10

Just as a note, the original design did not have a centreline painted as it was a shared space. The ACT Government painted the centreline post construction along with all the parking signs. The aim was to unclutter the street as much as possible.
The slow points were to discourage the rat running (MC to Barry Drive) and slow traffic down as drivers would not slow down if it was left to signs alone (as now demonstrated).
The street aimed to allow pedestrians to cross the street where ever by slowing down the traffic, the pedetrian flow to and from ANU comes from may desire paths. Also slow cars allow cyclist to use the street.
The design did not have kerbs 1. to enforce a slow pedestrian space and make cars feel a bit uncomfortable and 2. to allow street to be shut down at night for street functions and therefore less kerbs to trip over.

niftydog niftydog 10:25 am 22 Nov 10

If they had left it as the planned shared zone right from the beginning it probably wouldn’t be as bad. As it is they baulked at the last minute and canned the shared zone idea, installing bollards and crossings and raising the speed limit.

Then a few weeks back they tried to restore the shared zone – lowering the speed limit and removing all pedestrian crossings in the process. Probably two weeks later one crossing was reinstated.

Are the bollards still in place? Parallel parking as well? Then for all intents and purposes it looks as if nothing has changed to the unobservant driver. No wonder people are confused.

Usermane Usermane 5:24 pm 21 Nov 10

Mr Evil said :

Maybe – but if that were the reason, I don’t know why; as the chicanes were wide enough for large vehicles to get through. A number of large trucks have been through there previously while the new building that replace the old Canberra Workers Club was built.

If they left the chicanes in, some Canberra driver would get squashed because of mistiming their attempt to save 10 seconds by darting through a chicane in front of a truck hauling two trailers of dirt.

I will also note that the closure of Kingsley Street has really stemmed the flow of bogan wagons and angries through that corner of the university. Much nicer.

arescarti42 arescarti42 12:36 pm 21 Nov 10

Fiona said :

Where do cyclists fit with all this?

Bikes are technically vehicles, and cyclists their operators, so they should be giving way to pedestrians too.

Ian Ian 11:41 am 21 Nov 10

Oh dear, cars and pedestrians having to share, can’t cope!

Learn to drive.

Mr Evil Mr Evil 10:11 am 21 Nov 10

random said :

Mr Evil said :

Why Roads ACT took the chicanes away, I’ll never know, as at least that made the traffic slow down ever so slightly.

[…]the only vehicles I have seen doing 10km/h on Childers St are the dump trucks hauling soil away from the building site at the other end of the street.

Were the chicanes removed to make the road usable by construction trucks?

Maybe – but if that were the reason, I don’t know why; as the chicanes were wide enough for large vehicles to get through. A number of large trucks have been through there previously while the new building that replace the old Canberra Workers Club was built.

And as to the Childers St pedestrian crossing – I have lost count of the number of times I have nearly been cleaned up at that crossing. And yes, I always look both ways before stepping out onto the crossing, but that doesn’t help when you are halfway across and some tool flies through regardless!

Fiona Fiona 10:00 am 21 Nov 10

Well there you go. I’d noted the temporary sign that says 10km/h but hadn’t noticed any permanant ones, nor had realised it was technically a “shared zone” and so was only stopping at the crossing. Yesterday, on foot, I waited for the cars to go before I crossed. Apparently North rd near union court is also a shared zone, but rarely see cars stop for pedestrians.

Where do cyclists fit with all this?

James-T-Kirk James-T-Kirk 9:19 am 21 Nov 10


PBS Number: 123552667-98
DATE: 21 Nov 2010
Provider Number: 21518891

For: Sgt. Bungers


1 TBS Concrete Three Times/day – Take with a full glass of water, until hardening up occurs.

Signed: JTK

laraeddy laraeddy 1:01 am 21 Nov 10

Ummm – maybe, Sgt B, you should just get over wanting to blame somebody and just accept that, some days, shit happens ! We all know that many Canberrans are arrogant oxyden thieves as soon as they get behind the steering wheel of a car, and clearly have their defective sense of self wrapped up in getting there three seconds sooner. Sorry, but happy to blame this government for selling us out to shonky developers and real stuff like that, but getting out of the way when ya step onto a road is kinda your own business.

MJay MJay 10:20 pm 20 Nov 10

At least the police Harleys that are geared to drive at walking pace will be able to adhere to the speed limit.

p1 p1 9:43 pm 20 Nov 10

Why does a shared zone even need speed limits, since obviously cars will be giving way to pedestrians anyway? Any *safe* speed a car can do while still giving way should be fine.

urchin urchin 9:21 pm 20 Nov 10

I’d have to agree. It’s deceptive and dangerous–the signs are up but nobody pays any attention to them. I don’t think it wise to test the efficacity of the signs by throwing oneself out in speeding traffic, however. as pretty much everyone else has said, they need to either up the speed limit (20-30 is something people might obey) or enforce the crap out of it. major revenue opportunity here–a lot of people doing 50+ in a 10 zone…

but classes are done for the summer so its largely a moot point…

troll-sniffer troll-sniffer 8:37 pm 20 Nov 10

There’s an easy cure to this whole debacle, paint constant pedestrian crossings a la manuka style the whole length. Cars pretty soon get the idea, admittedly some pedestrians would have to deviate 10m left or right but I doubt many would really whinge. And in a similar vein to Bunda Street, any drivers who get cranky wouldn’t get much sympathy, as there is a perfectly usable stretch of road nearby called Marcus Clarke Street.

trevar trevar 6:59 pm 20 Nov 10

Worst on the planet might be a slight exaggeration. I suspect that there are entire cities, such as Bangkok, New Delhi and Cairo, that would count as poorer shared zones than one little street in Canberra with far less traffic than, say, Connaught Circus in New Delhi at 3am on the quietest day of the year… whatever day that may be.

I shouldn’t worry. Had the driver killed you, I’m sure an example would have been made and your death would not be in vain.

sandysusie sandysusie 5:15 pm 20 Nov 10

bd84 said :

Then there are pedestrians who also do not know that they have right of way and combined it creates confusion and chaos. Add in all the on street parking in that area which make pedestrians try and cross from between cars, makes it more dangerous.

Count me in this group. I don’t usually go anywhere near this part of town, but recently I’ve had to walk across this street on my way to a class. I didn’t noticed the 10k speed limit signs – I’m not driving after all – and I did see signs about it being a shared zone but it certainly wasn’t obvious to me who was sharing what. To me, it just looks like a really oddly marked street with no obvious differentiation between road and footpath, no obvious pedestrian crossing and where drivers still take complete right of way and pedestrians still wait until there are no cars coming.

Now that I’ve read this? I’m still going to wait until there are no cars coming. I’ve made it almost to 52 years old and I’m not going to throw it all away by walking out in front of a Canberra driver and assuming they’ll stop for me!!!

Bosworth Bosworth 4:21 pm 20 Nov 10

Mr Evil said :

What’s funny though, is that no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to pin any fault on cyclists for this – so it looks like many Canberra drivers really are selfish, impatient meatheads. Maybe because pedestrians don’t pay rego, they don’t have rights to use the road either?

Don’t be so hasty! Those speeding drivers are probably cyclists that just happen to be driving their cars.

Next time, check the boot and you will likely find a bike. :p

Rawhide Kid Part3 Rawhide Kid Part3 3:25 pm 20 Nov 10

Speed Hump, Speed Hump, Speed Hump….

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