The issue for pedestrians at South Fremantle shops
Hampton Rd is a very busy road with approx. 21,000 vehicles per day of which approximately 5-7% are heavy vehicles.
The issue of pedestrian safety when crossing Hampton Road is a long standing issue and has come into sharp focus at South Fremantle shops.
Apart from school times when there are traffic wardens, there is NO provision made to help pedestrians safely cross the road. This crossing is heavily used by people getting to the South Freo shops and children going to Beaconsfield primary school.
In 2016, in two separate incidents, two school children while trying to cross Hampton Road were hit and seriously injured by vehicles. See
- “Hampton a Horror” December 2016 : Fremantle Herald and
- “Calls for action on Hampton Crossing” : May 2016: Fremantle Herald.
In 2016 in response to these incidents, there was a community petition signed by over 250 people, calling for substantial changes to be made.
In March 2017, City of Fremantle (CoF) made some trial changes by closing off right hand turns for vehicles from Hampton Rd into Scott St which is where the crossing where the two children were hit is located. This intersection at Scott St is also a listed BLACK spot intersection with 8 crashes in the 5 years to December 2016.
In late 2017, CoF presented 2 options to the community for a more permanent solution. A recommended option was then taken to elected Councillors for endorsement but this was rejected by Council. Instead they asked Fremantle city staff to progress, in consultation with Main Roads, the installation of signalised traffic lights, including pedestrian priority (“green man” signals) at the Hampton/Scott intersection.
On 27 July 2018, City of Fremantle released updated information about these investigations for pedestrian lights. In the information publicly provided, they state that pedestrian lights are not possible. As a consequence, they have slightly modified the two previous options, mostly by proposing some additional flashing ‘wig-wag’ lights at the crossing and are once again seeking feedback from the community.
Concerns and questions raised about the conclusion
The following are the reasons provided by CoF and WA Main Roads for ‘ruling out’ pedestrian signals :
- Cost for a signalised intersection at Scott St
- Technical grounds relating to pedestrian counts for a mid-block puffin
- That Scott St is a minor road
- That signals would increase congestion on Hampton Road
- That school wardens would be removed if pedestrian signals were installed
We have addressed each of these separately.
Funding of $200,000 via the State Government’s Local Projects Local Jobs has been allocated for this project.
From information obtained from CoF via email on 1 August 2018, the additional cost of providing signalised lights at Scott St is estimated to be in the order of $150,000. This is not a significant cost.
There were no additional costs mentioned as being required for a mid-block puffin crossing.
Technical grounds for a mid-block puffin crossing
The community has been informed that the pedestrian counts of 80/hr in the morning and 53/hr in the afternoon hour did not meet MRWA’s required criteria of 350 pedestrians in an hour, or more than 175 per hour crossing over 8 hours on an average day.
We have concerns that this criteria has been used to rule out mid-block lights. Please see below for additional criteria and information that shows that this conclusion is not supported. Our reference material is based on “Planning and Designing for Pedestrians” (PDP) published by WA Department of Transport and the Road Hierarchy for WA – Road Types and Criteria published by WA Main Roads.
If there was a genuine desire to address pedestrian safety on Hampton Road, there are an abundance of ‘technical’ grounds to justify pedestrian signals.
Signals are not warranted at Scott St as it is a minor street
While Scott St is a minor street for most of its length, it is also a heavily used access point to the busy shopping centre located at the western side of the intersection with Hampton Road, especially if the temporary median is removed.
This intersection is a consistent Black Spot intersection with 7 crashes at a cost of $656,884 in the 5 years to Dec 2017.
Signals are not warranted at Scott St as they would add to congestion on Hampton Road given the proximity of other controlled intersections nearby at Douro Road and South Street.
The intersection at Hampton and Scott is respectively 380m north of Douro and 735m south of South St. Of relevance is the similar situation on Guildford Road, Bayswater where a puffin crossing was installed in 2015 at comparable distances between its 2 adjoining controlled intersections – namely 400m to King William St and 380m to Garret Rd.
We are also aware that SCATS technology is used on all signalised intersections, including puffin crossings which would address traffic efficiency concerns.
SCATS are an advanced computer system that monitors in real-time the traffic signals and the volumes of traffic using them in order to use this data to coordinate adjacent traffic signals to ease traffic congestion and improve traffic flow. For more information please see https://www.mainroads.wa.gov.au/OurRoads/Facts/ITS/Pages/SCATS.aspx and https://www.mainroads.wa.gov.au/OurRoads/Facts/ITS/Pages/SCATS-Sample-Data.aspx
That school wardens would be removed if pedestrian signals were installed
The community was informed that if pedestrian signals were to be installed, then the current school warden service would cease. This point was emphasised heavily by Main Roads staff at the community meeting, even going so far as to say that school crossing guards were a much safer option than pedestrian signals. When challenged however, they were unable to provide any evidence or data to support this statement.
An obvious shortcoming of just having school wardens is that they only operate at school times. This means there is no pedestrian protection during school holidays and outside school crossing times. It is not just school children crossing the road. There are many other types of pedestrians, including mothers with prams, cyclists, the elderly, shoppers carrying heavy bags, families going to the beach, people walking their dog(s). No doubt many more would be encouraged to cross if it were safer.
The warden cover does not even cover all students, eg those students who attend out of area schools such as Iona. Their afternoon bus drops them at Hampton Rd after the school wardens have left.
There are however parents who are extremely nervous and fearful about the possibility or threat of losing the wardens, given that the situation on Hampton is so treacherous. Other parents however, including the father of one of the children who was hit and seriously injured out of school hours at the unprotected crossing, would rather ‘sacrifice the school wardens’ in order to get pedestrian signals.
This is clearly an issue that is dividing the local community.
But does it have to be a trade-off between the two?
Puffin crossings are ‘intelligent’ with infra-red sensors that will remain red for on-coming traffic while someone is still on the crossing. Would it not be possible to have the warden service continue and to do this at a puffin crossing during school times? Instead of the 2 wardens on duty now, perhaps one warden plus the puffin would be sufficient, given the extra protection to both the pedestrian and the warden that the intelligent puffin system would provide?
To allay the legitimate fears of those parents who do not want to lose the warden service, and to truly make any solution a safe solution for pedestrians, would it not also be appropriate to modify the road conditions leading up to the crossing on Hampton eg reduce the speed limit, narrow the traffic lanes, put speed decelerators in place on the approaches to the crossing?
These treatments are all “Safe System” treatments as advocated by the internationally recognised, evidence-backed Safe System approach to road safety, which underpins:
- WA State Government’s Towards Zero road safety strategy
- Main Roads WA Road Safety Strategy 2011-2015: The Road Towards Zero No more death or serious injury on our roads and
- Main Roads Policy Statement July 2018 which defines the principles and objectives Main Roads have adopted to guide their decisions.
Contrary to the information provided by MRWA at the community meeting, Section 9.3.10 on page 156 of “Planning and Designing for Pedestrians” (PDP) published by WA Department of Transport states “children’s crossings can be installed at busy signalised intersections to provide additional safety for children crossing.”
We therefore do not believe it has to be, nor should it be, a trade-off between these two solutions.
The 2 documents relevant to this discussion are the “Planning and Designing for Pedestrians” (PDP) published by WA Department of Transport and the Road Hierarchy for WA – Road Types and Criteria published by WA Main Roads.
Of particular relevance to this discussion, is the statement on p.135 of the PDP, that “All warrants should be used as a guide only, with the final decision based on an understanding of local conditions and past experience.” In other words, these warrants are not absolute – there is an element of considered judgement that can/should be applied.
The technical grounds provided to the community of why pedestrian signals were ‘ruled out’ appear to be a combination of the criteria on p 136 in Section 9.2.1 under points a) and b) of the PDP.
We believe this is not the only criteria that would apply and strongly believe the following points are significant and of relevance to the thoughtful consideration of an appropriate pedestrian safety solution to the specific situation at South Fremantle:
- That 2 school children have been hit and seriously injured by vehicles outside of school times in the past 2 years and there have been many near misses. Of relevance to this is page 136 Section 9.2.1 (e) of the PDP where it states a puffin signal could be considered where ”two or more pedestrian accidents of the type susceptible to correction by signals have occurred on or near the crossing in the past three years.”
- That Hampton Road carries a substantial amount of traffic – over 20,000 vehicles/day of which approximately 5 – 7% are heavy vehicles with 1326 vph at 8am and 1893 vph at 4pm. That Hampton Road is configured as 4 lanes – the outer 2 being dedicated bus lanes which are frequently used by other traffic to pass stopped cars or as an extra traffic lane which is what is making it so treacherous for pedestrians. Of relevance to this level of traffic on a 4 lane road is p. 138 Section 9.2.4 of the PDP where it states “A signalised crossing would be the only appropriate priority crossing facility for roads with more than 1 lane of traffic in each direction”, (as an asterisked note for 4 lane undivided roads with 700 vph or 4 lane divided (with refuge) roads of 1,600 vph (all figures are peak hour traffic.)As pointed out in this Section, this WAPC Guideline is an alternative consideration of the warrant based on the volume of traffic as the key determining factor of whether pedestrians can safely cross a road. Hampton Road easily exceeds these figures as a 4 lane undivided road, and exceeds the counts for a 4 lane divided road for the afternoon peak and is very close to reaching the count for the morning peak.
- The fact that Hampton Road is classified as a District Distributor A (DA) under the WA Road Hierarchy. Of relevance here is that under Criteria 10. it states for a District Distributor A: “Pedestrians should be provided with positive measures for control and safety eg pedestrian signals.”
- That Hampton Road, as a District Distributor A, would be the equivalent of either a Primary or Secondary Arterial under the classifications contained on p. 140 in Section 9.3.1. of the PDP. This Section states a “Children’s crossing is “inappropriate” and Pedestrian traffic signals are “Most likely” for both classifications.
- That under Section 9.2.1 (c) of the PDP, a puffin crossing may be considered if “At a school where, in two separate one hour periods of a typical school day, there are no fewer than 50 persons crossing the roadway, and at least 600 vehicles pass the site subject, and the product of the number of pedestrians crossing and vehicles passing in the same hour exceeds 40,000”.Based on 2018 pedestrian figures provided by CoF and traffic figures published by MR, the actual numbers on Hampton Road easily exceed these with 84*1326 = 111,384 for mornings and 53 * 1893 = 100,329 in the afternoon.
- That under Section 9.2.1 (d) of the PDP that a puffin crossing can be considered if “The pedestrian and traffic volume is sufficient to justify a zebra crossing but pedestrians would be in danger at an ‘unprotected’ pedestrian crossing. This could be due to the width of the carriage way, traffic speed or traffic volume.”We are aware the afternoon pedestrian numbers are just 7 short of the threshold number, but all other counts needed to achieve justification of a zebra crossing are comfortably exceeded. Meeting this criteria is important, not to get a zebra crossing as that would not be safe or appropriate on this section of Hampton Road, but rather that meeting this overarching criteria appears to be a necessary pre-condition to meeting some (although not all) of the conditions listed under a) to f) – any one of which would ‘rule in’ a signalised solution.
- That there is significant residential in fill occurring to the south such as Shoreline and the Cockburn Coast which means traffic numbers along Hampton Road will increase, possibly rapidly in the near future.
- That the more recent pedestrian counts in May 2018 reveal a substantial increase (over 100%, from 40 to 84) in morning pedestrians compared to June 2017 figures. As mentioned earlier, this crossing services a very busy local shopping centre, as well as local schools and is a logical, walkable connection to the nearby very popular café strip at South Terrace and to the beaches and parks especially in summer at South Beach. It is highly likely that pedestrian figures would increase significantly if a safer signalised crossing with associated calming as per Safe System approaches were installed.
Both revised options put cars and traffic first and pedestrian safety last. This is the opposite of what CoF states are its transport priorities in its Integrated Transport Strategy.
NEITHER option provides pedestrian crossing signals (“green man” walk signals).
NEITHER option provides any pedestrian priority or protection outside of school crossing times.
NEITHER option addresses the main safety issue of drivers using the bus lanes, often at speed to bypass stopped traffic with no pedestrian cover provided at all outside of the guarded school crossing times.
Both Option 1 and 2 will result in essentially the same unprotected crossing but with the addition of ‘wig-wag’ warning lights that will flash at peak before and after school crossing times. This is likely to be confusing to drivers and pedestrians. It likely will encourage cars to stop and wave pedestrians across the road into the adjoining bus lane – exactly the situation that caused the previous pedestrian accidents.
In Option 1 this crossing is relocated away from the Scott St intersection. This would see the only crossing becoming a mid-block crossing which is not where people will choose to cross.
In Option 1 the existing pram ramps at the existing crossing site near Scott St will be kerbed (ie the ramps will be removed) and the existing mid-road pedestrian refuge will be raised and paved (ie the pedestrian refuge will be removed also).
Option 1 will also open up the intersection at Scott St again which will effectively reinstate the same traffic issue that leaves pedestrians vulnerable to being hit by vehicles using the bus lanes, especially as it is very likely that people will still try and cross Hampton at the intersection where they do now – in spite of the fact that the pram ramps and median refuge will have been removed.
In Option 2, the school crossing remains where it is (with the addition of new flashing ‘wig-wag’ lights). It also includes a new informal mid-block crossing to the south, in addition to the school crossing. This is likely to be confusing to both pedestrians and drivers, having 2 differently signed crossing points located within 50 metres of each other.
In Option 2, the trial closure of right hand turns at Scott St would be made permanent although provision would be made for bikes to get through.
In Option 2 there is provision for cars to make cross the mid-block median – this is to allow for the residents who need to access their driveways but potentially could cause safety issues being so close to the mid-block crossing.
Both options see the bus stop on the west side moved north towards Scott Street which for Option 2 would appear to create a line-of-sight issue for pedestrians crossing the school crossing at the intersection, especially from west to east, and for Option 1 this will likely cause line-of-sight problems for right turning traffic out of Scott (west side).
In keeping with Fremantle Council’s published Transport Priorities and with the WA State Government’s “Towards Zero” road safety strategy, it is incumbent on Fremantle Council and the State Government to put the safety of pedestrians first.
Why pedestrian safety needs to be a priority
- Hampton and Ord is a dangerous and costly barrier through the heart of Fremantle.
- It has become the de-facto Fremantle Eastern Bypass, carrying an enormous amount of traffic including heavy vehicles.
- This is not appropriate for a residential street with schools, local shops and homes.
- It is dangerous and costly with 18 BLACK SPOT intersections, costing the community nearly $13.5 million over 5 years. (More data on this on on our Issues page.)
Get involved now!
- Do you care about pedestrian safety on Hampton Road?
- Do you worry about your children getting safely to school across Hampton Road?
- Are you sick and tired of being abused and yelled at as a pedestrian for just trying to cross the road to get to the local shops?
- Do you want to see change?
If so, please get in touch with Friends of Hampton and Ord (FoHO) and help us achieve real change.
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