By KATELYN MILLIGAN
The St Peters community has amplified calls for a school zone at the Campbell Street crossing after a vehicle running a red light almost hit two schoolchildren.
Parents of St Peters Public School have lobbied for years to upgrade pedestrian safety and protect their children as they cross Campbell Street to attend school. Concerns have grown with the duplication of the street to create a four-lane road for the WestConnex motorway scheme.
Member for Heffron Ron Hoenig, Inner West Council, St Peters Public School and parents in the local community have banded together to demand that the Minister for Transport urgently install a school zone along Campbell Street. The community is also calling for the installation of flashing lights, rumble strips and a red-light camera. Dozens of parents and school students use the crossing at Campbell Street every day walking to and from school.
President of St Peters Public School Parents and Citizens Association Kate Hafey believes it’s time for action.
“There have been accidents, terrible injuries that have been talked about anecdotally. It can be quite terrifying crossing there with kids,” Hafey said.
“We’ve had parents crossing the road with babies in prams nearly bowled over. We’ve had one mum that the car stopped just in time it actually touched the pram. So it is a very stressful situation for parents. A lot of families use that intersection.”
In an address to NSW Parliament last Tuesday, the Member for Heffron slammed the Minister for Transport on the issue.
“I am warning the Minister and I hope that he and his department are listening: If a child is killed at that location by a vehicle speeding or running a red light, the blood will be on your hands and on the hands of the department. I will hold you responsible for your lack of action,” Hoenig said.
After Hoenig’s address to Parliament, Transport for NSW contacted the school to advise that various safety measures have been put in place on Campbell Street. This includes two ‘children crossing’ signs, red-light running software installed at the lights to collect data on the number of vehicles running red lights, and increased monitoring of the road by NSW Police during school times.
But Hafey doesn’t believe that Transport for NSW’s response is sufficient.
“You can make all the signs in the world but it really needs the proper 40km per hour zone, the flashing lights, all that kind of stuff that drivers need to be given a bit of a wakeup call on that street.”
“People don’t really realise that there is a school … they’re not really aware. It just needs to be more visual … once people start getting fines for doing the wrong thing that will change behaviour,” Hafey said.
Transport for NSW has previously rejected the proposal for a school zone, understanding that there is “no direct access point” for the school on Campbell Street. Despite St Peters Public School being only 150 meters from Campbell Street, the crossing fails to meet the criteria for a school zone without a gate or entrance that meets directly with the road of concern.
The community argues that Transport for NSW has introduced school zones for other schools which don’t have an entrance that directly meets a road of concern. Specifically, Hawken Street in Newtown is a 40km school zone despite being a feeder street used to access Camdenville Public School.
Families of the St Peters Public School community have begun recording and documenting vision of cars running red lights and near misses to present to NSW Transport in hope that a school zone will finally be introduced.
“We can’t [just] wait until a kid gets killed,” Hafey said.