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REDWatch Submission on Darlington PCTC - September 2009

This is the submission made by REDWatch regarding the City of Sydney's Draft Pedestrian, Cycling, Parking and traffic (PCTC) Plan for Newtown Darlington Camperdown and Erskineville in September 2009.

REDWatch wishes to make some comments on the proposed draft Pedestrian, Cycling, Parking and traffic (PCTC) Plan for Newtown Darlington Camperdown and Erskineville. As a residents group who’s area covers Darlington we will primarily comment on the study as it applied to our area. 

In the first instance we wish to register our grave concern that recommendations have been released for public feedback without the release of the detailed studies on pedestrian, cycle and pedestrian movements. The 9 page written report released after the presentation contains scant traffic movement figures and nothing on pedestrians. These reports were not available at the release of the plan and should be released as soon as possible. 

This is in stark contrast to earlier studies undertaken by South Sydney Council and the Redfern Waterloo Authority where such details were publically available. As a result our comments can only be of a preliminary nature and we reserve the right to make additional comments when the necessary information is available. 

REDWatch has previously made a detailed response to the RWA Traffic Impact Study for their North Eveleigh Concept Plan. Our major concerns about the area’s traffic and its proposed growth have been set out in this document which has been previously been supplied to Council and the Consultants. Regrettably a number of key issues raised remain to be addressed in the Council’s own study. 

REDWatch recognizes that the PCTC has sort to address some of the traffic issues raised by the RWA North Eveleigh proposal and we welcome the proposals concerning Wilson Street and the need to re-examine the access to the North Eveleigh site from Darlington as well as the problems posed by these proposals for the bikeway on Wilson Street. 

The study does not however address Sydney University’s aspirations for the closure of Butlin Ave and its concept plan for the Abercrombie St campus. The impact of such proposals which are on the table do not appear to have been modeled and assessed. 

At the time of the 1995 Study the university wanted its main gates moved to the corner of Codrington and Abercrombie Street. With the university now consolidating Abercrombie, Golden Grove, Darlington Road, Codrington Road block for redevelopment the PCTC must address the implications of this for the roads which will in future be going through the University. In its 2020 Strategy the University proposes to keep traffic to the fringe of the University hence the desire to close Butlin Ave, which is a major access route into and out of Darlington. 

With the North Eveleigh and Abercrombie streets major projects in prospect, no figures have been released about the traffic volumes expected in the area in the next few years other than those released as part of the RWA’s North Eveleigh Concept Plan where it was required under the Director General’s Requirements. The resultant traffic study specifically excluded modeling of the University’s proposal to close Butlin Ave. 

A realistic PCTC Plan must plan for what is likely to happen between now and the next PCTC study and not just work on the current situation. The inclusion in the study of the implications of the RWA North Eveleigh study is such a future event. Council also needs to respond in its PCTC to the University’s future plans. 

We remain concerned that from the information released there appears to have been no assessment of the level of traffic that comes through Darlington as a way of avoiding King Street Newtown. While we agree that measures introduced after 1995 did stop some of the traffic using the suburb as a rat run these volumes have again increased over time probably as a result of  the congestion on King Street and the surrounding main roads. 

From the scant information provided we note that the traffic entering Darlington from Wilson and Burren to the west is equal to the traffic exiting Darlington to the East via Lawson Street. How much of this is through traffic is not possible to assess from the scant information released.

We welcome the introduction of a 40Km speed limit to discourage non local traffic but note that this was an unimplemented recommendation of the 1995 Traffic study. Given the high pedestrian figures for the area the CoS should push hard to implement this change. 

As we have already covered many of these issues in material earlier supplied to this study and we will confine ourselves here to come specific comments on the current PCYC recommendations.

Station to Sydney University Pedestrian Movements:

 Since the last Council traffic study in 1995 there has been a significant increase in the number of people attending Sydney University. This has seen a significant increase in pedestrian movements between Redfern Station and Sydney University. However figures have not been released for these pedestrian movements for the PCTC to date. While the high level of movements along this axis is acknowledged early in the report it is then promptly ignored. 

Contrary to experience the study expects this pedestrian traffic to divert via Little Eveleigh Street and Ivy Street and Ivy Lane as an alternative to Lawson Street. By closing the Little Eveleigh Street Wilson Street connection, the 1995 traffic study in effect made this street a low traffic route. The nature of the footpaths are such that pedestrian bike, and a small level of motor vehicles (including the Sydney University bus) already share this narrow road. While we welcome this formally becoming a shared zone, this street has in effect been this for over a decade and the pedestrian traffic down Lawson Street has continued to grow with few taking the scenic route down Little Eveleigh Street. 

The PCTC Plan must recognize the large numbers of pedestrians that use this route and manage the pedestrian – cycle – car conflicts that result from the large number of people using this route. Given the nature of pedestrian traffic being discharged from a rail station the study must deal with peak flows and not averaged figures. 

It is hence not practical, for example, for pedestrian peak flow to fit down the Southern side of Lawson Street or through the 2 meter gap proposed for the intervention proposed for the corner of Ivy and Abercrombie Streets by the consultants. 

In the long term reinstating a southern exit to Redfern Station or a Station exit into Little Eveleigh Street may take some pressure off Lawson Street. However immediate planning has to deal with the existing station configuration for some years to come and therefore the PTCT to look at how to manage these peak volumes. It should be noted however that even after a new station is installed that many pedestrians are still likely to take the Lawson Street exit. The development of North Eveleigh is likely to also increase counter flow traffic down Wilson / Little Eveleigh further discouraging use of Little Eveleigh. Counter flow to Redfern Station down Lawson is already a problem with people often forced on to the roadway. 

The PTCT Plan should try and spread pedestrian traffic down both sides of Lawson and Abercrombie. It should be noted that pedestrian traffic on the Northern side of Abercrombie before Ivy Street could also go down Lander Street without significantly increasing the distance travelled. 

This spread needs to start at Redfern Station. Currently few pedestrians cross Lawson at the pedestrian refuge. This is due to the often having to give way to traffic and also because pedestrians prefer to bypass the top of Eveleigh Street. Many pedestrians cross Lawson Street do so after Eveleigh Street. 

The PTCT study needs to explore a crossing as soon a practical after exit from Redfern Station. This is not easy as any crossing (including the existing ones) need to address the significant conflicts that occur at the corner of Little Eveleigh and Lawson and on Lawson Street bridge, where bikes, cars and pedestrian movements all conflict as everything is funneled over the Lawson Street bridge. 

Michael Mundine, CEO of the Aboriginal Housing Company has indicated that they would be happy for there to be a crossing across Lawson at or near Eveleigh & Little Eveleigh. 

Lights have a potential problem with insufficient space for a holding area on the station side. A pedestrian crossing without lights is likely to see such a peak use of the crossing that vehicular traffic with not be able to progress across the Lawson Street bridge. This unacceptable delay to motor vehicles was the reason for moving the pedestrian crossing on Abercrombie between Shepherd and Ivy Street and introducing the current scatter crossing lights at Shepherd Street. 

Given the alternative is that at peak time pedestrians walk down Lawson Street on the roadway because there is insufficient footpath space there needs to be some serious consideration given to how movement across Lawson Street can be facilitated and the modes clash addressed. 

Council also needs to seriously consider how it can maximize pedestrian space on Lawson Street. Council should look at regular maintenance of the footpath and the overgrowth of its street trees and the overgrowth of private plantings into the pedestrian corridor. Council should also consider changes to the way garbage collection takes place in Lawson and Abercrombie Streets to ensure bins provide minimal hindrance to pedestrian traffic. Late collections result on bins not being taken in before people go to work and result in interruption of pedestrian space. This could be mitigated somewhat by garbage contractors ensuring that bins are placed back in line with the street trees rather than into the pedestrian space. 

Given the large pedestrian volumes we are of the view that there has to be pedestrian priority on each side of Lawson and Abercrombie as they cross streets and lanes. As a result in the absence of lights marked pedestrian crossings should be made where Lawson crosses Little Eveleigh Street, Ivy Lane and where Abercrombie Street crosses Ivy Street and Shepherd Lane. Each of these intersections sees conflict of varying degrees between cars with write of way and large groups of pedestrians not necessarily aware they are even crossing the road. The paved road treatment is not recognized by drivers as providing pedestrian priority at Little Eveleigh Street and conventional crossing markings are better understood. 

This is especially a problem at Ivy Street where cars turning left out of Lawson can turn left into Ivy but it is not possible to determine if the car intends to turn or has a non cancelled blinker due to the shallow turn. On east to west pedestrian movements’ people have their back to the turning motor vehicle. 

While there is a no right hand turn from Abercrombie Street heading west at Ivy Street this sign is often ignored, a pedestrian crossing would at least provide some further pedestrian protection.. This is likely to increase if Shepherd Street is closed. This intersection was supposed to have a blister treatment in the approved 1995 works but it did not eventuate and this work should also be done in this study. 

The proposed closure of Shepherd Street will divert traffic up Ivy and increase the likelihood of traffic crossing to Ivy Street South of Abercrombie. It should be noted that this intersection is only a couple of car lengths from the Lawson – Abercrombie street intersection. How this intersection interacts with the adjacent intersection needs to be addressed in the PCTC. 

One of the problems from the 1995 traffic study which closed Wilson and Little Eveleigh was that all traffic leaving Little Eveleigh has to do so via Ivy Lane to the south of Lawson. Motor vehicles often make right hand turns from this intersection. This is highly dangerous as Ivy Lane joins Lawson just metres from the Lawson and Abercrombie intersection. There is both a blind spot to the east due to parked cars and a blind spot to the west because of the intersection through which cars often speed to get the lights. Originally this was sign posted left turn only but after being commonly disobeyed by police at the mobile police station in Little Eveleigh the sign was removed and replaced several times. In the end Council gave up. The consequence is that there is traffic turning right across an unbroken line on the edge of a major intersection out of Ivy Lane. Narrowing to force left hand exit should be considered but the space would need to be sufficient for the University of Sydney bus. Council needs to address this problem including giving pedestrians priority across this intersection. 

There is currently a DA before council that would build on the vacant block to the east of this intersection. The DA proposal includes a garage with a reverse entry which might impact on how this intersection can be treated.

Abercrombie Street Shops

At the time of the 1995 Traffic study Darlington shops had been earmarked for a village upgrade similar to that eventually given to Erskineville. Work around the Darlington shops has been included in relevant the City of Sydney Local Action plan and we have been advised that this work will dovetail with the PCTC. 

A key part of this upgrade should be the widening of the footpath and the consequential narrowing of the roadway. Only a partial widening took place after 1995 with the section from Shepherd Lane to Shepherd Street not being widened. This needs to be completed and the possibility of some widening on the other side also explored. 

The Darlington shops have “on street” use by some café’s which adds activation to the precinct however this is being done in an often high traffic area. The maximum footpath widening is required to handle the desired combination of active street usage and pedestrian movements. The narrowing of the roadway and a 40km speed limit should also result in safer crossing of Abercrombie Street around the shops. There continue to be a large number of pedestrians that will cross Abercrombie Street between Shepherd and Ivy Streets. 

In an ideal world Abercrombie Street should be a shared zone given its high level of pedestrian traffic and car, bike pedestrian interactions. The vehicle traffic counts mean this is unlikely to happen until the level of pedestrian traffic also becomes a factor in such considerations and not just motor vehicle movements. In the meantime council should take all possible steps including maximum road widening and other traffic calming activities to provide the maximum opportunity for safe pedestrian permeability across the area around Darlington Shops. 

The shop precinct should be provided with treatments that provide improved amenity however these have to be developed in parallel with the high pedestrian needs of the area. In this regard the closing off of pedestrian space in the Abercrombie – Vine Street treatment is not appropriate for a high peak pedestrian thoroughfare. A rain garden would ne more suitable in Ivy Street south of Abercrombie given that currently in heavy rain the drain can not take the water volume and water flows across the footpath as well as the roadway used by the many pedestrians. A raised entry into Ivy Street may be worthwhile considering provided the water volume can be dealt with and the raised section does not become a dam and spillway in heavy rain. 

Consideration should be given again to paving the village area in a manner similar to Erskineville or Redfern Street so that the village amenity can be strengthened with something more than some fresh asphalt and some planter boxes. 

Work also needs to be undertaken on lighting in the area in the evening and on shutter removal. Street work should also include the removal of overhead wiring and appropriate street plantings. 

The City should come back to the Darlington Community with both proposals for the LAP upgrade and the proposals for the PCTC Plan including traffic management resulting from the proposed closure of Shepherd Street. These should mesh with the work involved in upgrading Charles Kernan Reserve.

Shepherd Street Proposed Closure

 We note the proposed closure of Shepherd Street but we are of the view that this can only be evaluated in the context of the measures the Council proposes to put in place to manage the displaced traffic. The consequence could be to relocate the traffic pedestrian bike conflict to Ivy Street rather than Shepherd Street. 

We appreciate that Shepherd Street is unsuitable for high volumes of traffic, which as a concern from the RWA’s Eveleigh TIS. However with the ceasing of traffic from Abercrombie Street turning right at Cleveland, Shepherd Street is now the only way in Darlington for Eastern bound traffic to turn right into Cleveland Street. In the absence of a right hand turn on to Cleveland Eastern Bound traffic must exit the area via Lawson Street and Redfern Street before being able to turn right on to Cleveland. This impact needs to also be assessed in the decision to close Shepherd Street. 

While less of an issue if Butlin Street remains open Shepherd Street is the only place a right hand turn can be made into Darlington with lights from Cleveland Street. The closure of Shepherd at Abercrombie will most likely push through traffic to use Ivy Street. This route is already used by some through traffic that exits south east via Lawson Street. If the Ivy and Abercrombie intersection is impeded local traffic will only be able to use Vine Street to exit to the rest of Darlington. 

Until there is some proposals from Council as to how this closure might be managed it is difficult to comment further. 

We support the proposed pedestrian refuge in Abercrombie Street to facilitate pedestrian movement from The Block to Mudgin-gal.

Dedicated Bicycle Paths & Shared Zones

 REDWatch broadly supports the bicycle paths proposed. Given the time that may elapse before the next PCTC we are of the view that Council should plan for Eveleigh Street to become part of the bicycle network linking through to the CUB site. The Aboriginal Housing Company would support such a route and with changes on The Block this could become feasible in the not too distant future. 

Such a route will need a crossing at Cleveland but given the lack of pedestrian permeability on this road this should be considered also for pedestrian traffic. In this regard we welcome addressing pedestrian deficiencies on the western end of Cleveland Street. 

We are concerned at the moment with the volume of bicycle traffic travelling on footpaths in the area with high pedestrian volumes and relatively narrow footpaths. The failure to return the Wells Street shared zone to Lawson Street roadway at Regent sees bicycles cross Regent and enter on to the footpath in the middle of a major bus stop. The lack of permeability across Lawson often then means that bikes travel the length of Lawson Street on the footpath. We welcome the introduction of the dedicated bike path on Lawson Street Bridge and Lawson Square. 

The issue of the Wells Street shared zone leading into a bus stop should be addressed as a matter of urgency and this may necessitate bringing forward the proposed separated cycleway. 

We also recommend that suitable signage be developed an erected or stenciled west of Little Eveleigh and Eveleigh Streets reminding riders that they are not on a shared path and that it is an offence to ride on footpaths unless under 12 or accompanying an underage rider. This could be done by a no bikes sign for example. There will be a temptation by those headed towards the University to continue down Lawson Street to meet up with the Abercrombie Street cycle way so this cycle way needs to direct cyclists on to the Lawson Street Carriageway and not the Lawson Street footpaths. 

We welcome the consideration proposed of the impact of the North Eveleigh entrances and round-a-bouts on the Wilson Street bikeway. 

We note however that while potential shared zones are specifically targeted around schools that there are none around Darlington Public School. Council should explore this further with the school. Darlington Lane may be appropriate for such a treatment.


To our mind the PCTC study covering Darlington provides Council with the opportunity of produce specialized pedestrian solutions in a similar way to how council has been addressing cycle ways. Darlington is one of the highest pedestrian traffic areas in the city of Sydney and the PCTC needs to identify solutions to the problems confronting pedestrians rather than largely ignoring them as has been the case in the PCTC Plan which has been exhibited. 

We await the detailed traffic, pedestrian and bike movement studies so we can further assess the proposals in light of more detailed movement data. 

In the meantime we trust these initial comments will be of assistance in the next phase of the plans development. 

We strongly encourage Council to bring back more detailed PCTC proposals to the Darlington community at a special meeting in Darlington. The Darlington issues are such that a dedicated Darlington consultation is required regarding the issues raised in this submission. 

For Further Information contact:

Geoffrey Turnbull                                                                       

REDWatch Spokesperson

c/- PO Box 1567

Strawberry Hills NSW 2012                                            

Ph Wk: (02) 9318 0824