Sunday, 20 April 2008

New roundabout: accident waiting to happen

The recently completed roundabout at Anzac Avenue, Hursley Road and Holberton Streets is an accident waiting to happen, according the Toowoomba Bicycle Users Group (T-BUG).

Following a complaint to the group from a Toowoomba cyclist, a working party of T-BUG cyclists, the hazard inspection team, spent Sunday 20 April conducting a site inspection, taking photographs and traffic lane measurements.

Their verdict?

It would appear that hundreds of thousands of rate and tax dollars have been spent speeding-up the vehicle traffic, when it should be slowing down at such a major intersection, and the humble bicycle has never once been considered by the planners.

Road safety for all road users, which should be the starting point of all road design, has been totally neglected, according to the T-BUG hazard inspectors.

At no point, on any approach to the roundabout, can any cycle logos be found painted on the road. No road space has been allocated for bicycles, rather, it has all been devoted to motor vehicles.

Traffic on Anzac Avenue, going towards James Street, is funnelled into a high-speed lane by-passing the need to negotiate the roundabout.

The lane is far too narrow to provide bicycles with the 1.25-1.5 metres required at 60 kph. With large concrete road dividers on one side and the curb on the other, coupled with the road rage some Toowoomba road users exhibit, this all ensures a bad outcome for a cyclist is not too far away.

A cyclist, coming from Holberton Street to James Street, has to make their move off the roundabout and attempt to cross this high speed Anzac Avenue traffic coming up on their left hand side.

During the T-BUG inspection, at a low traffic time of day, it was clear that car drivers are going far too fast in the available space to be able to accommodate slower moving cyclists, who are as entitled to the same road space as other road users.

T-BUG believes the Holy Grail of road design, the Austroads “Guide to Traffic Engineering Practice Part 14- Bicycles” has not been consulted.

Toowoomba’s new councillors are being asked to pay attention to this problem, left to them by their predecessors, and are invited to meet with T-BUG supporters, on site and with the TRC design team.

This lack of regard for cycle road safety cannot be repeated, and T-BUG supporters are aware Council is considering a similar massive road rearrangement at Hume and Stenner Streets, already the focus of much anger from many Hume Street residents.

Also inspected by the T-BUG hazard inspection team was the new Ruthven and Alderley Street intersection, where a dedicated cycle lane has been created.

Unfortunately, the “Part 14” requirement for cycle lanes has been ignored once again with the bike lane only 900mm wide at some points, and no provision made for bike lanes for left or right turning riders.

Going south, past the Shell garage towards Nellie Robinson Park, the cycle lane ends abruptly, where, with a little forethought, consultation, and good planning a full width bike lane could have been created.

T-BUG is lobbying for a full width cycle lane from Nelson Street to Highfields, a simple pioneer project to serve as the central spine to the much needed cycle infrastructure the new Toowoomba Regional Council, the Department of Main Roads and the Department of Transport need to be working together on, with T-BUG supporters.

There are National, State and Toowoomba Cycle Strategies, all designed to make cycling safer and more attractive as a legitimate form of transport, as well as “Austroads Part 14” to inform our road planners but, for some inexplicable reason, Toowoomba still suffers from “cycle blindness”, with Toowoomba cyclists under threat of severe injury and death as a result.

T-BUG urges all road users, not just cyclists, to lodge a Department of Transport Hazard Report on both the Anzac Avenue and the Ruthven-Alderley intersections with their local “Road safety-Hazards” team at Queensland Transport, PO Box 645, Toowoomba 4350, to ensure we can all start to share our roads safely.

The reporting form can be found at:

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