Recent studies demonstrate that bad ACT road design is a major factor in why our roads poorly serve pedestrians and cyclists. Kambah is a good example. The roads need to be fixed quickly with affordable solutions. If you would like your children to be able to walk around the suburb safely, Local Area Traffic Management is worth knowing about.
- What is Local Area Traffic Management?
- Where has it been done in 2020-21?
- Through the lens of a pedestrian
- LATM before the PTCS committee
- Children and schools
- Recommendations of the Kambah study
At Taylor Primary School we can see a reoccurrence of the same problem that was brought to our attention with the Lyneham Primary School Petition. Even with a pedestrian crossing, drivers fail to stop and intimidate children with their big motor vehicles. Jump to the last section for that.
What is Local Area Traffic Management?
Local Area Traffic Management (LATM) is about identifying a range of measures to make streets safer – typically through traffic calming. For over a decade, TCCS is well aware of the importance of making roads safer for all users, including pedestrians and cyclists. Particularly children benefit from traffic calming as they have been traditionally neglected in road designs found throughout Canberra.
It is a two stage process. First, TCCS will commission a Safe Systems Infrastructure Assessment. “Safe Systems” refer to the Austroads methodology for road safety studies. The study considers improvement options, assesses the benefits, and provides a cost estimate for the work. The implementation of the recommendations depends on funding and currently, in the ACT, the approval of the Transport Minister Chris Steel.
The information below comes from the Question Time Brief (QTB) for the Ministers Budget Estimates 2021-22 for Transport Minister Chris Steel obtained through a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) 21-111 released 3 November 2021.
Why traffic calming?
• Achieving safer speeds on the ACT road network is an essential element of the ‘safe system’ approach outlined in the National and ACT Road Safety Strategies.Question Time Brief (QTB), Ministers Budget Estimates 2021-22, TCCS, FOI 21-111, released 3 November 2021, 142.
• A range of integrated speed management measures covering engineering, enforcement, encouragement and education are part of the ACT Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan.
• One of these measures is to implement local area traffic management (LATM) treatments in residential areas using a range of traffic calming measures.
• Traffic calming measures are physical devices; either horizontal in nature such as kerb alignments and roundabouts, or vertical such as speed humps and speed cushions. Their aim is to reduce vehicle speeds. Relevant signage and line marking is also used in traffic calming projects to reinforce safe traffic speeds.
TCCS hires a traffic engineering consultant to do the Safe Systems Infrastructure Assessment study such as R.D. Gossip Pty Ltd for Kambah. Safe Systems is a standard methodology from Austroads and is documented extensively on their website.
• TCCS considers a range of factors such as traffic volume and speed data, crash history and surrounding land use to identify the need for, and priority of, traffic calming measures on residential streets. High priority streets are then further investigated, and a traffic management plan (TMP) is developed to mitigate identified risks on the road.Question Time Brief (QTB), Ministers Budget Estimates 2021-22, TCCS, FOI 21-111, released 3 November 2021, 142-143.
• All directly affected residents (residences adjacent to the measures) are advised of the proposed works prior to their implementation via letterbox drops/door-knocks. Any concerns raised are discussed with the resident (usually on site) and addressed where possible.
• Consultation is also undertaken with Transport Canberra staff to discuss the impact proposed traffic calming measures would have on their ability to run its bus services on affected roads. For example, the size and placement of speed cushions is selected to ensure buses and other heavy vehicles, such as fire trucks and ambulances, are not impeded.
• All other affected stakeholders, including schools, Emergency Services and Community Councils, are also informed of the proposed works as appropriate.
Who delivers the works
o Delivery of LATM works is predominantly carried out byQuestion Time Brief (QTB), Ministers Budget Estimates 2021-22, TCCS, FOI 21-111, released 3 November 2021, 144.
Infrastructure Delivery, inclusive of notification to residents.
o Some low-cost LATM works that are overdue, such as Ministerial
commitments may also be delivered through Roads
Where has it been done in 2020-21?
Safe Systems Infrastructure Assessment study
The implementation of recommended measures from the studies below are currently unfunded (as of 12/10/2021). There must be a large backlog of work that needs to be done. The studies “Boddington Crescent and O’Halloran Circuit, Kambah” and “Marconi Crescent, Summerland Circuit and Livingston Avenue, Kambah” are attached as FOI 21-119.
In 2020-21, Roads ACT completed traffic studies on the following streets:Question Time Brief (QTB), Ministers Budget Estimates 2021-22, TCCS, FOI 21-111, released 3 November 2021, 144.
o Bugden Avenue, Gowrie. (FOI 21-114)
o Owen Dixon Drive, Evatt.
o Antill Street, Knox Street and Aspinall Street, Watson.
o Boddington Crescent and O’Halloran Circuit, Kambah. (FOI 21-119)
o Marconi Crescent, Summerland Circuit and Livingston Avenue,
Kambah. (FOI 21-119)
o Kosciusko Avenue, Palmerston.
o Beasley Street, Torrens/Mawson.
o Theodore Street and Carruthers Street, Curtin.
o Knoke Avenue and Jim Pike Avenue, Gordon.
Implemented LATM measures
We were surprised by how many implementations there were. All the studies could be obtained via FOI. The Safe Systems Infrastructure Assessment study for “Newman-Morriss Circuit, Oxley” (FOI 21-117) was completed and implemented within 2 years.
In 2020 – 21, Roads ACT implemented LATM measures on:Question Time Brief (QTB), Ministers Budget Estimates 2021-22, TCCS, FOI 21-111, released 3 November 2021, 144.
o Heagney Crescent, Chisholm/Gilmore.
o Newman-Morriss Circuit, Oxley. (FOI 21-117)
o Heysen Street, Weston.
o McInnes Street, Weston.
o Namatjira Drive, Chapman/Fisher/Stirling/Waramanga.
o Krefft Street, Florey.
o Charnwood/Flynn/Fraser LATM study.
o Bandjalong Crescent, Aranda.
o Phillip Avenue and Majura Avenue, Watson.
Through the lens of a pedestrian
TCCS often talks about gathering evidence. Austroads Local Area Traffic Management is about gathering evidence. We should, however, ask ourselves the question, what sort of evidence? Government processes work as designed and consider some aspects but ignore others. Engineers work with models and various algorithms – such as those for spatial mapping. Computer systems use data to make predictions and aid in decision making. They are as good as the data they provided.
Our system, for whatever reason, is more likely to collect data related to roads and motor vehicles than people who walk and ride bikes. The interests of the motorist are favour due to a “silence” – the lack of data for pedestrians and cyclists (read Measuring cycling safety below). The “lens” of those people who drive, those who walk and those who ride is quite different. Vulnerable road users – pedestrians and cyclists – experience our streets quite differently to drivers.
Austroads Local Area Traffic Management process gathers data that is skewed to road data, consequently favouring the interest of the motorist over that of the vulnerable road user.
Data skew is bad enough, management skew makes it far worse: management skew. Management encourage traffic calming by making it a priority, or that it is to be avoided. For TCCS, the latter is unfortunately the case. At the heart of this is street are for movement and not streets as place (read Movement and Place). Cars have the priority and pedestrians are expected to wait.
As TCCS manager Shelly Fraser said before the PTCS committee, 4 March 2021, Local Area Traffic Management is used as a last resort. Data skew already favours drivers. Management directives to minimise or avoid traffic calming measures, takes any recommendation from the Local Area Traffic Management process and waters them down again to the bare minimum.
This process reduces the voice of pedestrians and cyclists – firstly through selective data collection, and secondly through the management directive – so that any final measures achieve little improvement to pedestrians and cyclists experience. As a result of an unfavourable walking and cycling environment, people are less likely to ride and walk – including children to and from school. Parents will perceive streets as dangerous and drive their children to school instead. The street is not a place for people but dominate by road designed for cars, and thus the private motor vehicle remains the prime mode of transport.
Our data collection in the ACT is skewed towards motor vehicles. Injuries are recorded at our workplaces, in schools, and on the roads, but not in public spaces. Should a cyclists or pedestrian slip and fall, that incident – with or without injury – will not be record.
The hospital emergency departments collect statistics for health purposes. Injuries at emergency departments are reported including the cause and other information about patients. Fatalities are, not surprisingly, reported too (with the cause).
Any registered vehicle can drive on our road system. To be registered they must be road worthy and insured. Single vehicle or multivehicle collisions will be recorded, either by the insurance company (as part of the claim) or the police. Accident statistics can be obtained from the insurance companies or the ACT Government.
There is usually no recorded of incidents involving vulnerable road users. The exception being where a motor vehicle collides with a vulnerable road user on a road. If the pedestrian or cyclists is taken to hospital or dies, the incident will be recorded. Admissions at the hospital are recorded. Should the police attend the scene they prepare a written recorded too. Otherwise, our system does not collect data on pedestrian or cyclist incidents and injuries.
The legal system can note personal damage claims when pedestrians or cyclists collide, but usually only in the case of significant injury.
Pedestrians or cyclists will tell you the most common incident is falls, minor injuries and near misses. These fall below the reporting threshold.
Reporting such accidents is difficult as the police do not really want to know about them. They feel helpless to do anything about it. They are, however, obliged to collect the data and there is a process in place. The process is unwieldy, complicated and requires considerable effort from the injured person, with little gain – except the statistics.
Without these statistics, however, TCCS has nothing to work with. TCCS has a risk model for accessing the priority of path repairs (warrant) system. For a system driven by accident and injury statistics, the logical consequences of the lack of statistics for paths is that the paths are largely invisible and therefore seen as low risk. As a result, a path fault is unlikely to be put on a priority list for repaired.
Path faults can be reported through Fix My Street and faults will be prioritised for inspection should they be a safety hazard. Faults can be reported before accidents occur. Nobody needs to get injured. However, it can take a long time before faults are repaired with the average being 52.2 days. Faults on bike paths can take years to be repaired.
The need for traffic calming is assessed through the collation of data for traffic incidents and fatal collisions. This may work with registered motor vehicles on roads. It does not help with bicycle and pedestrian incidents. Traffic calming measures – Local Area Traffic Management (LATM) process – depend on these statistics to complete the assessment (Austroads Standard). The lack of data from the cyclist and pedestrian view point (lens) means cyclists and pedestrians are poorly served by LATM.
Shelly Fraser’s statement is telling: “We do not keep a register per se of accidents that relate to cyclist hazards. We rely on reporting through Access Canberra on serious or fatal incidents on the road network.”
The lack of data around cycle accidents that do not result in death or hospitalisation, or involve a collision with a motor vehicle, leaves considerable uncertainty about the costs of such accidents. Assessing traffic calming through the collation of data, presumes there sufficient quantity and quality of data to make a recommendation. Clearly, when the data is lacking, this approach will not bear fruit. In modelling, they say “garbage in, garbage out”. As good as the model may be, the predictions will never be better than the data you put into it. We need more and better data for cycling incidents.
LATM before the PTCS committee
Discussion of Local Area Traffic Management (LATM) from the Transcript Of Evidence, Standing Committee On Planning, Transport And City Services (PTCS committee), ACT Legislative Assembly, 4 March 2021. Mark Parton, Shadow Transport Minister, asks how is traffic calming done?
A constituent in Banks suggested to me earlier this month that City Services staff had indicated to him that traffic calming measures, in the form of speed humps, were set to be installed on Forsythe Street in Banks. In the context of this hearing, are we able to get an indication of whether that is the case or not?
I am not aware of that specific instance, but I will ask the team whether they are aware of it. If not, they can take that question on notice. The usual process would be that assessing whether those types of treatments were going to be useful on a particular street would be informed by some sort of traffic study on the street.
This goes to my wider question. What is the process to determine whether traffic calming measures are required? Which one is optimal? What is the actual start point of that process? Is that a process that is driven by community concern or by police concern? How does it happen from start to finish?
A range of factors contribute to our assessments of local area traffic management considerations. Usually, if we get a number of concerns from the community or police with regard to a range of factors—it could be speeding, crash…
incidents or fatals—we collate all that data and undertake studies to determine the average speed and whether there are implementations other than traffic calming. We try to utilise traffic calming as a last resort. …
With regard to the installation of traffic calming measures, are you guys able to measure the effects? Do we assess the effect … and in some cases the unintended effect?
We certainly undertake follow-up audits, I believe on an annual basis, to determine the efficiencies of the implementation of those local area traffic management devices and whether it is warranted to install more devices, or remove or reassess, based on a range of factors, such as community feedback, speed surveys and police reports.Transcript Of Evidence, PTCS committee, ACT Legislative Assembly, 4 March 2021, 87-88.
Children and schools
Not surprisingly, when there was bad driver behaviour, children walking or cycling to school were the victims.
Livingston Avenue / Vosper Street
Livingston Avenue / Vosper Street has a nasty reputation and on the day that the traffic engineers were there, a child crossing the road was almost driven down by a speeding driver. The cause – poor road design.
During the site visit, a near-miss was observed between a child, cycling to school, crossing the road from north to south and a vehicle travelling through the intersection from west to east. While the child failed to look for traffic before beginning to cross the road, the speed of the vehicle through the intersection is expected to have been significantly in excess of the safe system speed for pedestrian and cyclist crashes and on this basis would be expected to have a high likelihood of resulting in serious injury or death. In addition to high vehicle speeds through the intersection, the poor-quality pedestrian facilities and long crossing distances at the intersection, both contributed to the conflict.Traffic Investigation on Marconi Crescent, Summerland Circuit and Livingston Avenue, Kambah, FOI 21-119, 49.
Taylor Primary School Children’s Crossing
We see at Taylor Primary School a reoccurrence of the same problem that was brought to our attention with the Lyneham Primary School Petition. Even with a pedestrian crossing, drivers fail to stop and intimidate children with their motor vehicles.
TCCS have advised that concerns have been raised by the community in relation to poor driver compliance with the children’s crossing adjacent to Taylor Primary School. This poor compliance was observed during the site visits with numerous drivers (from both directions) failing to stop for children (without adults) waiting to cross the road. This occurred within approximately 20 m of the mobile speed camera. Furthermore, it was noted that when drivers did stop for pedestrians, the pedestrians appeared uncomfortable when crossing the road (i.e. rushed / jogged across the road, waved apologetically to the drivers).Traffic Investigation on Marconi Crescent, Summerland Circuit and Livingston Avenue, Kambah, FOI 21-119, 60.
The report makes recommendations how to fix the problem: a zebra crossing.
In order to improve driver compliance at the children’s crossing, it is recommended that the children’s crossing be raised onto a platform. This will increase driver awareness of the crossing as well as acting to locally reduce vehicle speeds. This raised platform could also be utilised as an additional speed hump in front of the school, reducing speeds to below 40 km/h.Traffic Investigation on Marconi Crescent, Summerland Circuit and Livingston Avenue, Kambah, FOI 21-119, 64.
Recommendations of the Kambah study
The most common measures from this sample of Safe Systems Infrastructure Assessment studies in Kambah was speed reduction and lane narrowing. The troublesome roads are typically past schools with 5 m wide lanes and faded signs. The standard recommendation for these streets is:
- speed reductions to 50 km/h
- replace all the 60 km/h signs with new 50 km/h ones
- narrow the lanes from 5 m to 3.5 m by painting a shoulder (white lines on the road)
- the shoulder can serve as an unofficial bike lane – which means it looks like one but legally is not one.
On straight sections of roads, speeding can be very common. Where there is a history of accidents, speed bumps are a likely recommendation. Speed cushions are more common and likely for no other reason than that they are cheaper – but not better than other alternatives.
The studies also discovered missing links and recommended that they be filled. Further, missing gutter ramps, misaligned gutter ramps, and poorly maintained paths are common with the predictable recommendation “fix it”. The paths “on the back of the curbs” are all recommended for replacement with paths that have at least a 400 mm separation from the curb but preferably 1 m (ACT Active Travel Standards).