Jolly unhappy

This week’s THINKING ALLOWED is by JOLLY READ, a journalist and writer who has lived in Fremantle for nearly 40 years. She recently wrote to the City of Fremantle’s director of infrastructure and projects about the lack of adequate planning for South Freo.

I  have lived in Fremantle/South Freo for the past 38 years.

My grandmother was born in King William St (then Florence St) in 1903 and my grandfather’s horses were trained in the 50s, 60s and 70s at the stables at southern end of South Freo like many others of the racing fraternity.

I remember when I first moved here in the late 70s that bizarrely, it was considered somewhat undesirable to live anywhere south of South St.

How that has changed!

Today, South Fremantle—like the West End—holds a special place in Fremantle’s crown.

As one of the city’s jewels, it offers unique, very different and very important living experiences for its residents and people who love to visit.

People can live and walk to most things here, not like the satellite suburbs elsewhere where people must use cars to get to the supermarket, dry cleaner, school, markets, post office, coffee shop, or local restaurant.

As I am sure you are keenly aware, in cities across the world, this aspect of living and amenity is now taking planning priority in improving people’s city lives and wellbeing.

We also can see evidence of this on our own doorstep, in inner Melbourne and Sydney for instance.

Hobart and Adelaide are also implementing ‘reclaim the streets’ programs and re-routing traffic around residential centres in ring routes to replace existing transport ‘corridors’ through them.

Closer to home the examples of Scarborough and Cottesloe point to this same design thought: that people need to be connected to their special surroundings without the impediment of vehicle traffic.

But back to South Freo, our city’s only southern beachside suburb.

We have the same situation.

Like these places, South Freo has witnessed in recent years a very large increase in traffic encroachment into most of its suburban streets due to increased popularity and an increase in use to get in and out of Fremantle.

South Freo is sandwiched between Marine Terrace and Hampton Road.

At the northern end, our boundary with inner Freo is divided by South St, at the other end there’s Duoro Road filtering traffic onto Hampton road.

Right through the middle is South Terrace which is evolving into a bright, friendly and popular ‘walkable’ commercial and social amenity for residents and visitors with new businesses, eateries, renovations and access.

But while this has been evolving, something else has been developing which is increasingly concerning residents.

Traffic has increased substantially on the wrong roads and parking is becoming increasingly tight around the suburb as non-residents take advantage of free street parking (even at Dog Beach) and take the CAT bus into the train station to go to work in other places, or to the uni or local work.

Long delays

This is exacerbated by a seemingly lack of overall local ‘traffic movement/parking’ planning by the council pertaining to South Freo.

We have been told South Terrace is to be calmed and the traffic taken from this road forced down to Marine Terrace.

For instance, recently we have seen several small side streets closed (and according to residents in those streets, no pre-warning of this) to two-way traffic, which has funnelled hundreds more cars per day down Jenkin St, causing severe problems for residents in that street.

The council has responded to residents’ concerns saying that traffic diversion to Jenkin St is well within a ‘manageable and acceptable level of service for a local access road’ because a recent traffic count recorded 850 vehicles per day (vpd) at the Marine Terrace end, against an allowable maximum of 3000 vpd on a local access road.

Needless to say this has not pleased residents who, as well as querying the count process, say this small stretch of Jenkin St can’t manage current traffic let alone up to 3000 vehicles a day.

Marine Terrace also has seen large traffic increases as it has become a major exit road from the city to connect to Hampton Rd from Douro Road.

Residents feel there has been little substantial planning or consultation to accommodate the traffic spike and consequences of long delays and back up traffic on Duoro road trying to get onto Hampton Road, and back along Marine Terrace at afternoon peak times.

Hampton Road ought to be the preferred corridor in and out of Fremantle with South St a major connector.

Has any thought been given to installing a right hand turn at the traffic lights on South St into Hampton Road to accommodate this?

This would greatly assist traffic leaving the city.

Currently, drivers are choosing Marine Terrace or Jenkin St  and South Terrace to join Douro Road to access Hampton Road  to avoid the lengthy and dangerous delays trying to turn right off South St.

Calming South Terrace traffic is a great idea but not at the expense of Marine Terrace, and the side streets between.

There needs to be some careful thought around traffic use of Marine Terrace so it does not become the western Hampton Road (just plopping speed humps out of the blue along South Terrace for instance without any community reference or explanation doesn’t seem to point to an integrated traffic strategy).

South Freo residents have raised traffic and planning concerns at community meetings and are hoping the council will assist creating a better local environment for walking with pleasant and strong walking routes, comfortable and safe access to our wonderful beaches, with less use of our streets as primarily transport corridors out of Freo. Have we been offered a similar ‘Heart of Beaconsfield’ initiative to hear locals’ ideas and thoughts towards a masterplan for the revitalisation of South Freo?

South Freo faces the ocean.

Many feel this should be the starting point for future planning, both for amenity and traffic.

As the proverb says, all roads lead to Rome, but there are many routes that can lead to getting the balance right.

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