Post truth politics

JULIE MURPHY is a member of Friends of Hampton and Ord: a residents’ group concerned with safety and amenity of Hampton Road and Ord Street. In this week’s THINKING ALLOWED she calls for a green man crossing to be installed on the dangerous stretch of Hampton Rd in front of the South Fremantle Shopping Centre.

COMMUNITY consultation on a safe pedestrian crossing on the notoriously busy and dangerous Hampton Road at South Fremantle shops (Peaches/IGA) closed this week.

At school times there are school wardens, but no pedestrian protection at other times.

In 2016 this came into focus when two school children were seriously injured, in two separate incidents, out of school hours at the crossing by vehicles using the bus lanes to overtake stopped cars.

In early 2017, Fremantle council installed a temporary median strip across Hampton Road at Scott Street, and in late 2017 the council began looking into “green walk” signals.

This was a great decision by council. However, three weeks ago we were told “green walk” signals had been ‘ruled out’, and council were seeking feedback on a modified version of an unprotected pedestrian crossing.

Friends of Hampton and Ord have asked road safety minister Michelle Roberts and transport minister Rita Saffioti why they’re not supporting council’s efforts to have a safe solution on Hampton Roadd.

Are the reasons for ruling out pedestrian signals valid? Let’s look at them in turn:

• A signalised intersection “would exceed the $200,000 budget considerably”. The additional cost is estimated to be $150,000 – a mere 0.1 per cent of council’s yearly budget.

• Pedestrian numbers did not meet Main Roads’ criteria. What about other criteria based on traffic volumes, road classification and pedestrian accidents? Under these, signals would be ‘ruled in’.

• Scott Street is a minor street. But it is also a heavily-used route to the shops, and a black spot intersection with seven crashes between 2012-17 at a cost of $656,884.

• Signals would add to traffic congestion on Hampton Road. But according to MR’s website, advanced technology (SCATS) are used on all signalised intersections to coordinate adjacent traffic signals to ease congestion and improve traffic flow.

• School wardens would cease if pedestrian signals were installed. This was the “king hit” delivered with some pleasure it seemed by the MR representative at the community meeting. It clearly was divisive. It clearly spooked many. The representative was clearly on a roll and went on, stating pedestrian signals were much more dangerous than school wardens. When challenged he was unable to support this.

If Main Roads were truly concerned about pedestrian safety then why aren’t they referencing their own guidelines, nor the internationally-recognised evidence-based Safe System approach, which underpins the WA government’s road safety strategy?

These clearly show that reducing speeds have the greatest effect on pedestrian safety and surely should be part of any solution.

But is it really a trade-off between signals and wardens? The state government’s 2016 guidelines state: “children’s crossings can be installed at busy signalised intersections to provide additional safety for children crossing.”

Shop owners at South Fremantle do not like the temporary median at Hampton and Scott and want it removed.

They can influence thousands, as they did in 2017 with a petition with over 2000 signatures.

They have again campaigned hard, with posters on shop windows and checkouts, urging “say NO to the median strip”.

So what is the truth?

Is the legal and illegal use by vehicles of the outer bus lanes, often at speed, and the unprotected crossing and heavy traffic loads creating danger for pedestrians?

If so, neither of the two options address this and should be rejected.

Is there a genuine desire to address pedestrian safety on Hampton Road?

If so, why aren’t we being offered “green walk” signals, school wardens at the signals (allowable under state guidelines) and safe system treatments, including reduced-approach speeds, which underpins the state government’s safety strategy and Main Roads’ policies?

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