If walking is to regain precedence as a viable and enjoyable way of getting about in Sydney, authorities have to make walking networks a reality.
Here is a visual critique of the most used walking route between Glebe Point and the City Centre via Pyrmont Bridge.
This is a path that is shared between cyclists and pedestrians. It is well-used and occasionally crowded, especially on weekends.
The foreshore path ends at Bridge Road which is a high-speed, high traffic volume thoroughfare with a narrow footpath along the waterfront which has been deemed a continuous shared way with cyclists as far as the Sydney Fish Markets. As such, it is dangerous for pedestrians as it is often crowded. The carriageway of Bridge Road should be made narrower, the northern footpath should be widened and a new cycleway should be built joining the cycleway that starts at Pyrmont Bridge. Furthermore, there is no pedestrian crossing at the junction of Bridge Road and Wentworth Park Road. The Park is effectively cut off within a large traffic island as a result. When the New Fish Market is re-located, the street should be re-designed to permit good pedestrian access to the park with widened footpaths and a dedicated cycleway.
The lights immediately adjacent to the Fish Market don’t require any use of the Beg button! The lights change frequently all day without any prompting!
However, this is not due to any consideration of pedestrian amenity, rather it is to control the different directions of motor vehicle movements that merge at the access ramp for the Anzac bridge. So it is actually an incidental benefit to pedestrians as a result of the traffic engineering.
As if to illustrate this inconsistency, the very next set of lights requires the compulsory use of the beg button. Once you press it you will have a minimum 90 second wait for a ten second window within which to cross. All vehicle movements are prioritised over pedestrians at this point.
Looking back, to the west all corners of this have crossings but the wait times are excessive.
Fortunately an enormous roundabout for this intersection that RMS had originally proposed was never built. Apparently this was due to “considerations of pedestrian amenity”!
Part 3 – A zebra Crossing!
This is unfortunately dangerous for pedestrians approaching from the east as it has traffic exiting the Anzac Bridge Motorway at speed where approaching pedestrians may be partially concealed by landscaping. This needs to become a raised wombat crossing to reduce vehicle speeds.
At Edward Street Pedestrians should have right-of-way over left turning cars from Pyrmont Bridge Road heading into the casino. This corner is very badly designed for pedestrian amenity. Private motor vehicles frequently turn left at speed, heading only to the Star Casino Car Park (which has a current number of car spaces available at any time displayed on all the public road signs surrounding it!). The obtuse angle of the turn encourages car speeds that harass pedestrians who may have commenced their crossing (even though pedestrians have right of way). It is unreasonable to expect pedestrians to anticipate cars at such speed. The following design changes should be made to fix this :
- Both footpaths at the corners on the side street should be considerably enlarged so that the distance between them is minimised and the distance within which pedestrian vulnerability to the carriageway is minimised;
- The carriageway should be made as narrow as possible and the angle of entry for cars into the street should be made a right angle so that car traffic has to slow down when rounding the corner and pedestrians have enough time to see cars approaching;
- There should be a raised pedestrian wombat crossing between the corners so that pedestrians are clearly given permanent priority as occurs at the very next intersection, 50 metres away.
- As well, the footpath along this stretch of Bridge Road from Harris Street to Pyrmont Bridge should be widened and a new cycleway should also be constructed along it with the vehicle carriageway reduced in width by at least one car lane.
This is the only dedicated raised proper pedestrian crossing along the whole walk. It demonstrates what is needed to make the walk function as a part of a network of city walks. However, the power pole could be relocated to a less obstructive position.
In every other location between Pyrmont Bridge and Glebe, car traffic has design priority only reversing this to put walkers first will make the City walkable.
Where Pyrmont Bridge and the wholly pedestrian precinct of Darling Harbour brutally meets the traffic sewers of the Star Casino, priority is given to any type of motor vehicle access to the Star Casino precinct even though there is actually very little other local traffic in Pyrmont. Pedestrians wait for ages in awkward locations. The roadways are all excessively wide; the alignments of pedestrian and cycle movement are in conflict and the waiting times for pedestrians are appallingly long. All this needs to be fixed by a physical re-design of the whole intersection with enlarged and unobstructed footpaths and substantial changes to the engineering and operation of the traffic lights which should reduce times for every option for vehicle movement in favour of pedestrians.
This crossing has as much as a 2-minute waiting time for pedestrians with a mere ten second window of green light in which to start your crossing. The corners are frequently overcrowded, especially on weekends and during festivities. The space given to cars is overgenerous and the pedestrian space on the western side is actually quite mean. As well, the alignment of the cycleway creates conflict with the natural movement of pedestrians heading to and from the bridge. The geometry of alignments for walking directions from the bridge are quite awkward and uncomfortable. This is a place that provides a very poor entry to an otherwise very interesting urban quarter of Sydney.
The following design changes should occur at a minimum :
- The vehicle carriageways should be reduced in every direction by at least one vehicle in width and considerably more footpath space should be added to the north-western corner of the intersection with the cycleway moved to the centre of the Road.
- The cycle of traffic lights should permit more frequent pedestrian movements – at every change. Diagonal crossing should be introduced and vehicles shoudl be made to wait longer in every direction.