What is a Shared Zone?
A Shared Zone is a road shared by vehicles and pedestrians. The maximum speed limit is 10 km/h. 10 km/h is close to the walking speed for most pedestrians.
The NSW guidelines for shared zones state it must have clearly different coloured and textured surface treatments from the surrounding roads. RMS Guidelines state: “All new shared zones must be constructed without kerbs.” According to experts, when you isolate drivers from people by a kerb, it is like saying: This is my space, and that is yours, so the driver drives faster.
Drivers must give way to pedestrians at all times.
Rule 83 of the NSW Road Rules states:
“Giving way to pedestrians in a shared zone
A driver driving in a shared zone must give way to any pedestrian in the zone.
Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.
Shared zone is defined in rule 24.
For this rule, give way means the driver must slow down and, if necessary, stop to avoid a collision—see the definition in the Dictionary.”
The Pedestrian Council of Australia did at one stage mount a campaign asking for Shared Zones to be renamed Pedestrian Priority Zones. This campaign was not successful.
How Do You Know the Road is a Shared Zone?
Shared Zone Signage must be displayed at each road entrance.
This is fine for cars, but how do pedestrians know it is a shared zone? International Experts advise against displaying signs for pedestrians as this may deter them from using the shared zones for walking.
Why is Birdwood Lane a Shared Zone?
Early concept pictures of The Canopy showed Birdwood Lane as a pedestrian zone only with trees planted in the middle of the street. This was unrealistic. The businesses that are located on Birdwood Lane need deliveries. Also, there are residential units located in some of the buildings, and they also need access to their garages.
Generally, any location with over 1000 vehicle movements per day or 100 vehicles in the peak hour is deemed inappropriate for a shared zone. ITC monitored traffic for 30 minutes between 11.00, and 11.30 am on Thursday. The traffic movements were as follows:
- Nine cars
- One smaller truck
- One delivery van
Why Not Just Have Pedestrian Crossings on Birdwood Lane?
Road Safety experts believe that by funnelling people across a pedestrian crossing, is sending a message to the driver only to look out for people at those crossings. By having a shared zone, it puts drivers on notice that they must slow down and be extra careful driving along the entire shared zone.
Why are Lane Cove Residents Concerned?
They are concerned as the area is being widely promoted as a park and playground, which means the area will have high child numbers. Children are unpredictable, and if you have a bolter, it only takes a second to lose sight of a child. Others argue that it is all about personal responsibility. Experts say that a shared zone is where you can look the driver in the eye. This is true, but not if you are a child.
What needs to be done?
The RMS guidelines for Shared Zones specifically note:
Transport for NSW, RMS and local councils are strongly focused on pedestrian safety. They recognise that everyone is a pedestrian at some time and should be able to walk safely. The establishment of Shared Zones is part of a strategy to reduce the incidence of injury and death among pedestrians. Changing the way streets are used improves the quality of life. Streets become places for people, not just traffic. You’ll see different surface texture and traffic calming features, such as raised threshold.
The success of a Shared Zone depends on community involvement and participation during their development and operation.”
Lane Cove Council must provide education to drivers and pedestrians. They should also look to restrict traffic to residents, business owners and delivery drivers. Uber drivers should be discouraged from using this lane. There should be a short term dedicated parking place for Uber Drivers on Longueville Road and Rosenthal Avenue for pickups.
When a shared zone was introduced at Bridgepoint Shopping Centre in Mosman, an education campaign was launched. A ranger was stationed at the road entrance to let people know it is a shared zone. The education campaign was funded by local businesses, the Pedestrian Council of Australia and Mosman council.
When shared zones were introduced in Canberra flags were installed to show there had been a change.
The shared zone signage at the entrance of Birdwood Lane is not visible when a driver turns left into the street from Rosenthal Avenue. It is certainly not noticeable when a truck parks in front of the sign (which happened when ITC was monitoring traffic).
What do you think? How should the Shared Zone be better communicated to drivers and pedestrians?
Cover Photo: Thomas Shanahan
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