A new turning restriction will be introduced at Wellington St, Bondi, if a Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) proposal for vehicle and pedestrian safety is approved.
RMS is advocating the banning of the right turn into and out of Wellington St from Bondi Rd to help control traffic movements at the busy intersection, with a mooted left-in, left-out arrangement proposed as the best way to “improve safety”.
But Waverley Deputy Mayor Tony Kay raised concerns over the safety of local school children from neighbouring schools like Bondi Public and Montessori East, arguing the proposal would lead to greater congestion and may result in more traffic accidents.
“The [proposal] from the RMS only considers traffic safety at that intersection, it does nothing for pedestrian safety,” he said. “The other negative is that it will increase traffic, and reduce traffic and pedestrian safety, in our local streets – Edward, Ocean, Penkivil – they’re all [streets] people will [use] to avoid the intersection.”
Mr Kay said the proposal also fails to adequately address the safety of the signalised pedestrian crossing over Bondi Rd to the immediate east of Watson St, a crossing that was identified as being “dangerous” as a result of meetings that council held with RMS.
“The Penkivil Precinct has identified these as being dangerous for school parents of Bondi Public and Montesorri East. RMS have changed the timing [of the signalised pedestrian crossing] very slightly, but it is still very unsafe to cross.”
According to an RMS spokesperson, in the five years to June 2012, there were 20 crashes at the intersection resulting in 14 injuries. The majority occurred when vehicles turning right from Wellington St collided with vehicles on Bondi Rd.
But Waverley Mayor Sally Betts said the turning restriction would divert traffic into surrounding residential streets, with parents resorting to making dangerous U-turns in close proximity to the schools.
“If you are travelling west along Bondi Rd, I just think it would cause a huge additional volume of traffic which would slow everything up even more,” she said.
Mr Kay said Waverley Council favours an extension of existing traffic lights at the intersection with Watson St to include Wellington St.
“The key aspects of this dangerous intersection from a pedestrian point of view [are] the lack of pedestrian safety when you cross Wellington St at Bondi Rd, and Bondi Rd to the east of Watson St.
“Also council has installed a centre traffic island and that makes it safer for pedestrians to cross Wellington St but it is still not safe. Traffic lights would make it safe,” he said.
A community consultation was conducted by RMS at the end of last month and a spokesperson said they are currently assessing all feedback received.
“Roads and Maritime [Services] carried out assessments for the proposal with the possibility of installing traffic lights found to delay traffic moving through the intersection. [This will] require parking spaces to be removed [and] bus stops relocated on a road with many traffic lights in place,” she said.
Depending on the outcome of the consultation, Ms Betts will write to NSW roads minister Duncan Gay outlining council’s concerns about the turning restriction and outlining Waverley’s advocacy for extending existing traffic light infrastructure.
Further investigations are expected to be carried out by RMS next month before a final decision is made.