Inner West Independent

Safety calls for Inner West crossing intensify after pedestrian death

A pedestrian was killed at an Ashfield intersection on the weekend. Photo: change.org.

By ERIN MODARO

A community petition in the Inner West calling for increased safety at an Ashfield intersection has gathered new steam in response to a pedestrian fatality last week.

On Sunday, a pedestrian was struck by a dual cap four-wheel drive at the Frederick and John Street intersection while using the pedestrian crossing and was treated by paramedics before dying at the scene.

Inner West councillor Dylan Griffiths commended the community petition, saying that it was great that the community had “stood up to call for a safer intersection at Frederick Street”, and called on Transport for NSW to take urgent action to make the intersection safer.

Cr Griffiths said that this was not the first time the community had spoken up on road safety in the area, and that the safety of the entirety of Frederick Street should come under urgent review.

“People want to be able to walk the streets of Ashfield safely,” Cr Griffiths said.

State Member for Balmain Jamie Parker, along with Cr Griffiths, wrote to the Minister for Metropolitan Roads Natalie Ward on Wednesday to ask for better pedestrian safety at the intersection, with the letter calling on Ms Ward to “urgently investigate what improvements can be made on this site”, with both a reduction in speed limit and the installation of traffic lights suggested as protective measures.

The letter also cited another incident at the intersection in 2017, which left a teenager seriously injured after being struck by a ute.

Councillor Mark Drury said that council has been calling for action from the state government at several intersections for the past decades without success: “We will get advice from our traffic engineers, but it’s a state government road,” Cr Drury said.

When asked by City Hub if Transport for NSW would consider installing traffic lights or a pedestrian overpass at the intersection following Sunday’s fatality, a spokesperson said that the agency would “await the outcome of the NSW Police investigation before considering any further action”.

Intersection known as a ‘black spot’ in the Inner West 

The online petition calls for the installation of traffic lights or the construction of a pedestrian overpass to decrease the danger of crossing at the intersection.

The Frederick and John Street intersection has a long history of crashes and has been the subject of community outcry in the area. It is recognized as a “black spot” for traffic in the Inner West, and a high activity area for motorists and pedestrians. Concern for Frederick Street and its pedestrian crossing goes as far back as 2001, when now-defunct Ashfield council approved upgrades to increase the intersection’s safety.

Concerns continued to be raised over the following decades, as a 2016 report by the Ashfield Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plan found significant safety issues with the intersection. The report highlights issues such as faded crossing lines, and missing or non-compliant ramps, and recommended the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to respond. The intersection was also noted in the report as a priority area for safety concerns because of high pedestrian activity paired with high vehicle volume and speed.

Over 30 serious crashes in two years at the intersection 

In 2017, the intersection was again brought to the government’s attention, with then-State Member for Strathfield Jodi McKay making a statement to NSW parliament addressing the lack of response, saying that residents had come to a point of “utter frustration”, with Ms McKay also predicting more incidents to take place on Frederick Street if action wasn’t taken.

According to Transport for NSW, there have been over 30 crashes resulting in serious injury or death in 2015 and 2016 at the Frederick and John Street intersection. In response to the safety concerns raised, Transport for NSW installed raised median strips in 2018, as well as the relocation of a bus stop to “reduce pedestrian crossing distance as well as increase visibility and safety”.

However, residents today claim that more needs to be done to protect pedestrians at the intersection. Jessica Lea Dunn, a longtime Ashfield resident who signed the online petition, says that she and her family often walk an extra five minutes to the nearest traffic lights just to avoid crossing at Frederick and John Street.

“I hear the sirens from my house quite frequently on Frederick Street, and it gives me goosebumps just knowing that someone else could have been injured and killed there,” Ms Dunn said. The online petition to install traffic lights now has attracted over 600 signatures.

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