Advancing Arncliffe

Arncliffe New South Wales is a suburb in the Bayside Council. It is centred on a Train Station on the T4 line and a High Street, and divided by that train line and Princes Highway. I live on the west side, between Arncliffe and Turella Stations, so my comments, while generalisable, are informed by a particular subsection of Arncliffe. Despite all the efforts in the area, there are things that could be done to make the place better, which would not cost very much in the scheme of things. It is this maintenance and low-hanging fruit investments which I raise here.

Shops

Arncliffe Village is the name I will give to the seemingly otherwise nameless and unmarketed collection of shops near Arncliffe Station mostly on Firth Street and Belmore Street, and a little bit on Forest Road. There has been a recent upgrade to the area so that there is mostly bluestone pavers in the area, some landscaping, and so on. The shops are mostly occupied with businesses, and the area works well. But it could work better.

If one continues to the end of Belmore Street, there is a one-block pedestrian walk adjacent to Belmore reserve and a recently remodelled playground, which connects to Wollongong Road and Kelsey Street. Historically a collection of shops grew up on Wollongong Road’s former tram line connecting Arncliffe to Bexley. Just at this intersection are King of the Pack, Espresso Haus, Seafood Connect, Doughcliffe Bakery, El-Zahra Butchery, a Hairdresser, a convenience store, and a consultant, and a block north, is the highly regarded Peace Bakery – supplier of Sydney’s best flatbread. To the non-resident of this side of the shops, they are unapparent. But they are only a few steps away.  I suggest that we functionally extend “Arncliffe Village” by connecting those disconnected shops more visibly.

This involves improving wayfinding, e.g. a tasteful, but visible, “More shops on Wollongong Road” sign at end of Belmore, to inform visitors and attract new residents (especially those from other side of tracks). But that’s not enough, crossing the misleadingly named “Station Street”, while not especially dangerous as these things go, is not something a visitor would naturally do.

It does require a bit more, to make this more obvious and attractive to pedestrians, namely installing several raised pedestrian (Wombat) crossings connecting  across:

  • Station Street at Belmore Street .
  • Wollongong Road at Kelsey Street
  • Kelsey Street at Wollongong Road and
  • Bonar Street at Wollongong Road (at Peace Bakery).

so that the whole area would be perceived as a single continuum rather than a disjoint collection of buildings.

Arncliffe Village Shops, with second train station entrance marked in light green, the intersection of Belmore Street and Station Street in a Yellow hexagon, with intersection narrowing denoted by orange, new wombat crossing in white, existing pedestrian path in maroon. Kelsey Street and Bonar Street and Wollongong Road Crossings denoted in the blue hexagons, with proposed wombat crossings in white.

Next, for some reason, Belmore Street at Station Street is far wider than it needs to be, with a wide radius of curvature. And the footpath is far narrower than it should be. And it is blessed with rubbish and recycling bins 24/7/365.

Bins! Public areas don’t separate recycling which is confusing. Do you want me to put recycling in regular bins? Why? Are bins expensive?

A casual inspection will show bins are on the southwest footpath from Station Street to Belmore Street every single day. Now a more wholistic solution would look at different space to store these bins. A casual inspection of the area will also show the Belmore / Station intersection is flared, so cars can exit Belmore to Station at a higher rate of speed (a wider radius of curvature permits a higher speed with equivalent driver comfort). See the attached aerial photos. A reconfiguration of the Belmore/Station Street intersection by tightening it up would be better for the urban form, but also free up space to put in a trash bin corral, which could store the bins of nearby businesses. Now everyone recognises that trash bins are never going to be particularly attractive, and other solutions (such as what the Netherlands does, of putting a recepticle above grade and a much larger container below grade, which is emptied via a vacuum device) are likely more expensive to implement, although better, this is still better than the present solution of bins on narrow the footpath on the primary path to the Arncliffe train station from west of Belmore.

Parks

Parks add value. The closer people believe they are to parks, the more property value they add, and the more they would be used. I suggest we make the parks more accessible by foot, and slow down traffic around park. For instance, implement Wombat (raised pedestrian) crossings on entering Arncliffe Park from all 8 directions, as shown in the attached figure. (2 already exist). Wombat crossings elevate the pedestrian (making us more easily seen), require cars to stop for pedestrians, making us safer and crossing more convenient, and act as a traffic calming measure by lowering speeds, making it safer and quieter for everyone. These should be aligned these with the park entrance, and ensure the remaining curb cuts are to modern standards. The park then reaches into the neighbourhood rather than being walled off by streets. This model could be extended to all the parks in Bayside, so that they are better integrated into the community rather than castles separated by a moat filled with cars.

Arncliffe Park, with existing wombat crossings circled, and proposed wombat crossings marked with a white stroke.

Finish Wolli Creek Park. This means various things to various people. I think two neglected aspects to this are constructing two Bridges

  • from Wolli Creek across Wolli Creek to Waterworth Park
  • across Cooks River to Griffith Street (Tempe)

Access to Train Stations

Arncliffe Station has one entrance, near one of its platform ends, and far from the other end. This increases the time required to enter the station from anyone on the wrong end of the station. It is easily remedied with a second entrance as shown in the Figure above. The same logic applies to other train stations as described here. This requires more cooperation with state government, but needs a local initiative to push.

Pools

There is no public neighbourhood swimming pool within walking distance of Arncliffe. Sydney gets hot. It is inefficient for every house to have their own pool . Pools are a classic shareable resource (like libraries and parks). The pool in Bexley is too far away and unwalkable, it assumes patrons drive. An Arncliffe pool doesn’t need to be super-enormous. (Everything is oversized in the name of “economies of scale”). Consider for instance the Urban Billabongs proposal. It could perhaps be located in the low-lying industrial area near Turrella Station, or on underused vacant land at Walker Street. Maybe near Silver Jubilee Park. Maybe on M5 land near Arncliffe Station. Maybe adjacent to Peace Bakery Maybe all of these. 

System Policy

  • Establish as policy, and enforce 30km/h on local streets. Cars and motorbikes speeding and driving recklessly throughout Arncliffe is a significant issue, on numerous streets, as identified by residents on your website, and all of those streets need more significant enforcement, “noise cameras”, lower speed limits to 30 km/h, raised pedestrian crossings (wombat crossings), and more traffic calming.
  • Ban through trucks when a parallel motorway path exists.
  • Ensure there are Footpaths on all streets, or those streets need to be shared streets with far lower speed limits when no footpaths are available
  • Footpaths need to be wider in many places so that they are more accessible.
  • Footpaths need to be even   Making different footpaths wider does not address this issue of existing footpaths which are uneven.  Why does this matter? Foremost, it’s a tripping hazard (and I would think a lawsuit waiting to happen). When footpaths are especially uneven, they are also an accessibility problem for the disabled (a problem of poor footpath design for the disabled is a far bigger issue that also appears to be unaddressed). Uneven footpaths discourage walking and increase driving, with all the negative externalities ensuring.  In general, neglect of public spaces brings down property value. Why are they uneven? They are uneven because over time ground settles, because tunnelling for major motorways (M5, M8, M6) under Arncliffe causes additional settlement, because trees establish roots and uplift concrete blocks, because rains wash out the soil underneath the footpath, and so on. But this is not unexpected over the decades. What is disappointing (or negligent, depending on your frame of mind) is there is not even a program to address this. For instance, consider this low-tech solution: someone going around marking uneven footpaths with spray paint, another crew going around after them with a grinder to level them out. I am sure there are other solutions, and places where they need to be rebuilt altogether.
  • Finally for this post, plant trees in the street. Many of the streets in Arncliffe are narrow, but strangely some are too wide. Even the same street varies in width in different locations for reasons obscure to history. Wide streets encourage fast driving. Planting trees can provide a calming effect. Consider the following figures from Haberfield and Glebe, and you will find hundreds of locations where that can be deployed around Arncliffe.

Tree in the street, Haberfield. Acts as traffic calming measure, reduces urban heat island effect, absorbs CO2. Is there anything trees can't do?
Tree in the street, Haberfield. Acts as traffic calming measure, reduces urban heat island effect, absorbs CO2. Is there anything trees can’t do? [They also raise property values]
Tree in the median of a street in Glebe
Tree in the median of a street in Glebe

Published by David M Levinson

Prof. David Levinson teaches at the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney, where he leads TransportLab and the Transport Engineering group.

%d bloggers like this: