Inner West Independent

NSW government ‘chose to ignore’ warning signs before Inner West pedestrian death

A pedestrian was killed at an Ashfield intersection last month. Photo: change.org.

By SWAGATALAKSHMI ROYCHOWDURY

Inner West Council warned the NSW government four years ago about the dangers of the Ashfield intersection where a pedestrian was killed last month.

The WestConnex local area improvement report, commissioned by council and released in 2018, flagged the dangers of the Frederick and John Street intersection, warning that increased traffic volume in the area “could increase the exposure to crash risk for vulnerable road users”.

The report found that there had been 106 reported crashes, including seven pedestrian accidents, on Frederick Street (between Parramatta Road and Elizabeth Street) from 2010 to 2016, where the intersection lies.

Philippa Scott. Photo: Facebook.

Labor councillor Philippa Scott told City Hub that the state government “chose to ignore” the information in the report.

“They had this information for four years … now someone is dead,” Cr Scott said.

When contacted by City Hub, Transport for NSW said that the government will be “prioritising new linemarking and signage upgrades to improve the advance warning to motorists of the pedestrian crossing”. A further investigation will take place at the area to “assess the feasibility” of other options, including traffic lights.

A motion calling on the NSW Minister for Metropolitan Roads Natalie Ward to visit the site of the Ashfield fatality will be tabled at a council meeting next week, which also requests that the state government installs urgent safety upgrades at the Ashfield intersection.

‘It is extremely upsetting’: victim’s granddaughter

The motion will be tabled by Cr Scott, who is also requesting that council recognise the “unsuccessful” alterations to the pedestrian crossing at the Frederick and John Street intersection in past years. She will also discuss the calls from a local petition that has amassed over 1,600 signatures for immediate action (including installing traffic lights) in the area.

“The people who have signed the petition are experts in their area. They can tell us first-hand how many near-misses they have had at that intersection. Their voices should not be ignored,” Cr Scott said.

When asked by City Hub, Greens councillor Marghanita da Cruz said that her party, which makes up a third of council seats, would support the motion.

Nancy Yang, the granddaughter of the man who was killed at the crossing, said “it is extremely upsetting to know that there were many other incidents … that took place here, yet nothing has been done about it”.

“The NSW government … has the responsibility to fix the glaring issues here at this crossing before more tragedies happen,” Ms Yang wrote under the community petition.

Greens councillor Dylan Griffiths, who represents the Ashfield-Djarrawunang ward on council, said that “more should have been done previously to ensure safety for the residents at the crossing”.

Dylan Griffiths. Photo: Facebook.

‘Change should have been made years ago’: Griffiths

Cr Griffiths and State Member for Balmain Jamie Parker wrote a letter to Ms Ward last month urging prompt investigation and action on the matter.

“Change should have been made many years ago. It shouldn’t take recent tragic events on the Frederick Street and John Street intersection to instigate pedestrian improvements,” Cr Griffiths said via Facebook.

A community meeting was held last month to address safety concerns at the intersection, and was attended by State Members for Summer Hill and Strathfield Jo Haylen and Jason Yat-Sen Li, respectively, and councillors Scott and Griffiths.

Ms Haylen told City Hub that the recent death was “just the latest in a series of safety issues that go back for 30 years”, and that “we need prompt action from the government”. 

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