ENFORCED SLOW-DOWN: Around 150 concrete pedestrian islands are being installed in newly designated 40km/h streets around Mildura, with funding made available under the Transport Accident Commission’s Safe System Road Infrastructure Program.

OPINION By JOHN DOOLEY 

IF you live in a street where they have been, or are being, installed, you may be asking yourself what the new, raised concrete pedestrian islands in the centre of the road at the entrance to your street are all about.

In addition to these pedestrian islands, there are also 40km/h signs being erected either side of them, and in some cases, in the centre of the island itself.

The Mildura Weekly asked Mildura Rural City Council (MRCC) some questions about the project, which will include the installation of approximately 150 concrete pedestrian islands, 25 raised asphalt safety platforms and more than 900 new 40km/h signs across the city. 

The MRCC confirmed the works are part of a program which will see new 40km/h speed zones introduced in 19 built-up residential areas, broadly bounded by Seventh and Sixteenth Streets and Benetook and Flora Avenues.   

The question of how much the new works are costing, and who is paying for them, was put to the MRCC, who responded, stating that, “The measures were part of a broader $3million suite of works aimed at improving pedestrian and cyclist safety in our region.” 

“The new 40km/h speed zones, and associated raised asphalt safety platforms and concrete pedestrian islands, are covered by the Victorian Government’s funding contribution,” a MRCC spokesperson said. 

“The Victorian Government has contributed $2.1million of this funding through the Transport Accident Commission’s Safe System Road Infrastructure Program (SSRIP).” 

And so why are they needed? 

“The overall aim of these measures is to reduce vehicle speeds at the entrances to, and within, residential areas, ultimately resulting in improving safety for people living within these areas, which often include significant pedestrian and cyclist activity,” the Council spokesperson said.

But are these measures just an overreaction? Upon investigation, some of the streets and avenues targeted, for example ones running off Eighth Street between Ontario and Riverside Avenues, are quiet roads with narrow entrances, which already make it difficult for larger vehicles to negotiate.

Vehicles like a waste disposal truck, or someone towing a boat or caravan, will likely have to drive over the concrete pedestrian island to get into the street. 

Worse still, in some instances, where there is a 40km/h sign in the middle of the island (and I think some may have already been removed), they won’t be able to enter at all.

Council’s response to this was that, “The design of the pedestrian islands and raised safety platforms meet VicRoads requirements and AustRoads guidelines.” 

“The low profile allows for passenger and utility vehicles and some heavy vehicles to negotiate the intersection, while the low profile allows for the infrequent large heavy vehicles to drive over the top to negotiate the intersection,” the spokesperson said.

“In regard to the pedestrian islands, the layout has been designed to allow the free passage of large vehicles such as emergency vehicles, trailers, caravans and garbage trucks.

“The islands are only 60mm high, and are mountable by vehicles travelling at low speed if needed, and the lane width is intentionally narrow to reduce the speed of vehicles entering intersections.

“The placement of islands and signs varies depending on individual site parameters and conditions, such as bus routes. Bus routes have been considered into the design of these measures, ensuring they can negotiate them.”

I’m all for a safer traffic environment, but sometimes it just seems that we go overboard and our lives are ever-increasingly being impinged upon.

However, someone did say to me that there is an upside for residents in these areas who will see the value of their properties rise because their street will be quieter and safer – let’s hope so!