Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pedestrians versus Cars - The Bowen Place traffic safety submission

Lake Burley Griffin is an iconic Canberra presence and a walk around it, and especially the popular central basin, is a 'must' for a resident or visitor. During the day it is heavily trafficked by people walking and jogging around it, and after work it is also used heavily by people walking and riding home. On the weekends it is used by people for exercise, or just walking and riding around the lake for sheer enjoyment. The lakeside path provides ready access to many national treasures including the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, High Court and National Library. You can then walk a kilometer or two along it and visit the Glass Works and the Old Bus Depot Markets. Its a little piece of Canberra that has stunning views, things to see and visit and has been steadily upgraded and improved, especially in the last ten years. 
Walking around the central basin of Lake Burley Griffin using both bridges is very popular

One part of this popular circuit which has remained an afterthought is Bowen Drive and Bowen Place. It is the most dangerous part of the walk as you have to cross Bowen Drive to walk onto the Kings Avenue Bridge to cross the lake to access the Russell side. There have been many pedestrians injured here over the years. 

About ten years ago, a pedestrian crossing was built, but it is in a bizarre place, and still forces people to cross Bowen Drive. Traffic is limited 80 KM in this area but is particularly dangerous, especially at night. Pedestrian do not have right of way, and it is difficult to cross in heavy traffic. Cyclists often race in front of cars, as few dismount (although they are required to). It is a suboptimal road/pedestrian interface for both pedestrian and driver. 

The fact that it is located in the Parliamentary Triangle, and subject to special planning laws, and not administered by the ACT, complicates matters somewhat. 
Bottom left of corner is where current pedestrian access from lake path to bridge occurs, using a path that takes pedestrians directly across Bowen Drive.

Recently, the National Capital Authority initiated a consultation process on their proposed solution, and designs for, an upgraded access point to connect the lake path to Kings Avenue Bridge. Annoyingly the public consultation phase only began following the shortlisting of three designs. This poor decision means that three suboptimal designs have been pre-selected, and the public can only really comment on the least worst of the three design solutions.  

As a person who used this area frequently when I lived in Campbell and worked in Russell, I decided to make a submission on the best way to design an access point for pedestrians transiting from the path around the lake to Kings Avenue Bridge. The National Capital Authority have shortlisted three designs, all of which are substandard and very expensive. My proposal is more straightforward and does not impact upon Bowen Drive at all, in fact I suggest that a ramp and stairs rise directly from the path alongside the lake, to the bridge. 

I have no doubt this submission will be ignored, and that one of the options already shortlisted will be chosen, but I felt it was important that I present my ideas. Im sure the designers are competent and experienced, but as  person who used this dangerous crossing hundreds of times over the years, I am pretty sure I have a considered opinion on the matter.

This is the submission I made to the National Capital Authority concerning the Bowen Place traffic/pedestrian consultation process.  

I thank the National Capital Authority for the opportunity to comment on the proposed safety upgrades to the Bowen Place area. This area is one I am very familiar with as a former resident of Campbell, when I used this crossing every night for some years. My use predates the existing pedestrian crossing, and also the various attempts to prevent walking up the steep bank where the NO PEDESTRIAN ACCESS sign is placed on the Kings Avenue Bridge.

As a long time user of this area, I have given considered thought to solving safety and access issues and the conclusion I have reached is different from yours.

All three of the proposals on the NCA website are sub-optimal, with the Footbridge over Bowen Place being the least worst of the three short listed design proposals.

I would suggest that a far simpler and more user friendly option would also be the simplest – construction of a ramp and stairs rising directly from the path running alongside Lake Burley Griffin, up to the Kings Avenue Bridge itself. This would negate the need to cross Bowen Place at all.

I am attaching three simple proposals where these stairs and ramp could be sited on the following pages. I would suggest that although you have already pre-determined that only one of the three short listed proposals be adopted, you instead consider a far simpler and more logical proposal.

Proposal 1 - Ramp or stairs rising from existing cycle/pedestrian path running alongside the lake, to the Kings Avenue Bridge.

Proposal 2 - Ramp or stairs rising in a semi-circular fashion from the existing path to the Kings Avenue Bridge.

Proposal 3 - Ramp or stairs rising adjacent from the existing path to the Kings Avenue Bridge.

Yours sincerely
Damien Haas
Senior Consultant
MFP Consulting
PO Box 1043
Kaleen, ACT

Proposal 1 - Ramp or stairs rising from existing cycle/pedestrian path running alongside the lake, to the Kings Avenue Bridge.

Proposal 2 - Ramp or stairs rising in a semi-circular fashion from the existing path to the Kings Avenue Bridge.

Proposal 3 - Ramp or stairs rising adjacent to the existing path rising to the Kings Avenue Bridge.

1 comment:

  1. I can't understand how you think your stairs and ramp option even comes close to the elegant design that NDC are currently implementing. Your proposal has a significant negative impact on the Lake and Kings Avenue bridge ascetic