Friday, April 5, 2013

Williamsons Road, Fitzsimons Lane and Porter Street Templestowe bus priority and roundabout improvements.

I received a brochure in the mail today with regards to the roundabout improvements. What I found interesting was the Liberal Party promised traffic lights at the intersection, which to most people would mean replacing the roundabout with traffic lights which isn't the case, but now they'll have met their commitment.

I also found it interesting that this really feels like the government is using this more as an opportunity to make the movement of buses better, so in essence potentially looking after themselves and their services first and road users second and the local community second.

A lot of work goes into planning for any such modifications so we have to keep that in mind. There was certainly no consultation with anyone that I know in the area, so given I and many others use the roundabout daily, you'd have expected perhaps they may be interested in hearing what people and users of the road would like. As usual we are simply given what the government deems is appropriate. We've all seen how the government/VicRoads screwed up the addition of the bus lane in Foote Street, making it dangerous for people exiting Hawting Street and removing a significant section of the bicycle lane, so my concern is natural that I first think what are they going to get wrong.

The amount of detail in the brochure is good but as stated, it is not to detail and is an artist's impression. Yes, not real information and potentially what is delivered could be considerably different. But the reality is it is usually too late at this stage. The apathy of people will ensure the government does whatever it wants. Changing what they do will be close to impossible.

The concerns:

1. The bus stop in Porter Street west of the roundabout heading west is marked as being on the road. That potentially means the removal of the indented bus stop. The removal of indented bus stops has done nothing but slow the movement of traffic with a small gain to the movement of buses. I've been on a bus in Parker Street which had door troubles and delayed traffic for 10-15 minutes whilst the driver attempted to reset the door multiple times. I ended up advising commuters to enter via the rear door of the bus. Had the bus stop been indented this would not have affected other traffic.

2. The additional bus lane on Porter Street going from west to east through the roundabout is a real concern. This means that a bus can unexpectedly pull up to the left of a left turning vehicle, where people are focusing on the traffic coming from the right. Having an additional lane for buses (and I've seen the same done for cyclists) is nothing more than a recipe for disaster. It is only a matter of time before accidents start to occur. Absolutely crazy design.

3. Only time will tell if metering signals will improve traffic as opposed to traffic lights. Metering signals for vehicles entering the freeway at Bulleen Road/Thompsons Road has done little more than create congestion that never previously existed. Until the lights were installed I could exit the freeway and use either lane. Now you can only use the left lane in Thompsons Road and hope the traffic isn't being blocked by cars on Bulleen Road entering the intersection, which it often is.

Good points:

1. The shared path is common sense and move the bicycle traffic away from fast moving and potentially dangerous high speed traffic. Many people illegally use footpaths whilst riding through fear of the traffic. It isn't right but it is safer, unless of course cyclists speed past driveways as I've seen previously a number of times.

2. The proposed pedestrian operated signal to enable people to cross south of the roundabout in Williamsons Road will provide a welcome method to cross Williamsons Road. If there is one thought I've always had is there is no safe place to cross Williamsons Road. The lights at Foote Street and Williamsons Road are not safe as drivers often drive through the the slip lanes without looking or stopping. Crossing the road on Williamsons Road to use the bus is dangerous and potentially deadly. Something as a parent that has always concerned me since moving to the area over twenty years ago.

3. The bus lane going west to east along Porter Street will now have the bus stop in the bus lane which should help traffic flow going east on Porter Street and left into Fitzsimons Lane.

4. Moving the existing pedestrian crossing further north along Fitzsimmons Lane makes sense. Even today traffic was blocking the roundabout because these lights are too close to the roundabout and people unexpectedly get blocked.

5. The proposed footpaths should make it safer for people using the buses in Williamsons Road. Currently the footpaths are not made and there are fairly deep soil drains where someone could easily hurt themselves. In the wet it is impossible to get to the bus stop without walking on the road to avoid getting your feet saturated in the grass.

At this stage the positives appear to outweigh the negatives and that is an improvement. The bus lane going west to east on Porter Street would be my main concern, as I believe it potentially creates a dangerous situation.

If you live in the area and wish to share your thoughts, you are welcome to leave a comment. In the end I believe if we don't voice our opinions we all end up getting what we deserve. If you take no action it is only your own fault you get what is given to you.

Kelvin Eldridge
Online Connections
Call 0415 910 703 for computer support.
Servicing Templestowe, Doncaster, Eltham and the surrounding area.

PS. I've searched the VicRoads' site in order to find more detailed plans rather than the artist's impression, but unfortunately could not find any such plans. I think detailed information on all roadwork of this nature should be easily available through the VicRoads site.

PPS: Additional concern.
Westerfolds Park is a major recreational area for residents in the area. The problem is, for those south-east of the park, south of Porter Street, there is no safe place to cross to get to the park. Had the government gone ahead with traffic lights this may have introduced safer points to cross. I say 'may' because slip lanes are often designed into intersections with traffic lights such as Foote Street and Williamsons Road and traffic often doesn't stop for pedestrians. In fact often the drivers don't even see the pedestrians they're so busy checking if the can drive through the slip lane and that there are no cars coming. There appears little concern by drivers for pedestrians. Never assume a car is going to stop in a slip lane as often they don't. This isn't safe. The new design offers no improvement for locals walking to the park. 

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