This is the WalkSydney submission on the Urban Design and Landscape Plan for the M6 Stage 2.
WalkSydney is the peak advocacy group working to make it easier, safer and more pleasant to walk in Sydney. WalkSydney’s vision is that “Walking will be convenient, accessible, safe and enjoyable for everyone.”
With a growing population we need to ensure people can easily walk, ride and catch public transport to local shops, services and places. We want people in the Bayside area to easily access the abundance of destinations that are within a 15 minute walking radius of the M6 corridor, including Rockdale or Kogarah and Brighton-Le-Sands, as well as Bicentennial Park and Lady Robinson’s Beach, without being inconvenienced or endangered by traffic. We welcome the commitment to introducing an Active Transport Corridor and enhancing parklands as part of the M6 construction, and see this as an opportunity to improve safety and the pedestrian experience, and provide a more positive outcome for residents of the M6 corridor.
The Rockdale & Kogarah station precincts are rapidly densifying residential areas. Brighton-Le-Sands is a very popular beach that has issues with the amount of car traffic and illegal parking (including on the shared path) at the weekends. More people using active transport rather than cars would be a positive for the suburbs surrounding the M6, but for that to happen, the walking experience must improve. It would be difficult to introduce a large amount of extra traffic in this area without worsening the overall walking experience, the M6 Stage 1 project is no exception. However, some simple changes may restore some safety to pedestrians and maintain walking as a feasible way to get around in Bayside.
Some of these suggestions may be declined on the basis that they will reduce traffic flow for cars. There is, it must be noted, no reason that saving 2 minutes for a vehicle to enter the M6 tunnel provides any more utility than saving 2 minutes for a local resident to walk across a road on their way to work at St George Hospital, and in practice it probably provides less. Decisions about trade-offs such as this should be based not just on an understanding of current active transport volumes, but on a vision to increase them, in line with the various transport strategies and plans for New South Wales.
We strongly support the “Cycling-friendly Infrastructure Design Principles” shown in Figure B-3, Appendix B-08, and request that the principles of direct, connected, safe, comfortable, and attractive facilities are extended to all pedestrian infrastructure design throughout the project, as for cycling.
Feedback by location
President Avenue-Princes Highway Intersection
- The crossing from the north-east to west is missing, so pedestrians from the north-east corner have to make 3 crossings to get to the west side of the Princes Highway. This encourages unsafe crossing for some pedestrians and inconveniences others. Pedestrian crossing signals should be provided at all approaches, even if it results in vehicle delay.
- Slip lanes, turning one road crossing into two, create considerable delay for pedestrians. Will the traffic signal timings avoid this by having the two pedestrian crossings occur sequentially – in both directions?
President Avenue Bridge
- The bridge width appears adequate at 5.8m.
- The bridge linemarking shown (Page 9-18) may create pedestrian-cyclist conflict on the ramp. The cyclist uphill lane is closest to the centre of the curve – the steepest part of the ramp. Cyclists may tend to drift outwards to reduce steepness, while the pedestrian desire line will be up the inside lane, as this reduces walking distance. If alternative linemarking is not compatible with other parts of the project, perhaps the ramp could spiral the other way.
- The bridge appears to only be accessible from Civic Avenue, without direct access from the southern footpath of President Avenue. Page 9-11 shows a barrier stopping pedestrians walking west on this footpath from walking directly to the start of the ramp. Instead, an extra 200m detour is required. This could be a considerable proportion of a journey, and this particular design induces frustration as well as inconvenience as pedestrians have to double back. A desire path will likely appear in the park below the ramp soon after opening, for those who can get over the barrier; a more elegant solution could be designed in advance instead.
- Not all pedestrians require level access and for those who do not, the ramp itself is an additional 100m unnecessary walking. Addition of a staircase with direct access from the southern footpath would save some pedestrians (coming from the east) around 5 minutes, compared to the current design. Perhaps it is anticipated that pedestrians from the east will choose to cross President Avenue using the signalised intersection with the tunnel entry instead. Yet, waiting times to cross 3 legs of this intersection will also likely exceed 5 minutes.
- The bridges and boardwalks here should conform to a 5.8m width (at least) if they are to support genuine active transport alongside people using them in a more leisurely way for recreation.
- One of the concept images here shows someone walking their bicycle, can we get confirmation that the bridge and boardwalks are designed to allow cyclists to ride here and still have safe space for pedestrians? It is very unlikely cyclists will dismount and walk for the length of these boardwalks.
President Avenue-M6 Intersection
- This intersection is missing a pedestrian crossing on the western side, making a much longer crossing to/from the northwest.
President Avenue-West Botany St
- This intersection is also missing a pedestrian crossing on the western side, making a much longer crossing to/from the northwest.
President Avenue southern footpath/shared path
- Civic Avenue is a low traffic local street. The turn radius shown for traffic both on and off President Avenue to Civic Avenue appears excessive (in Figure 9-3). This creates a longer and more dangerous crossing for pedestrians.
- This intersection would benefit greatly from not adopting the standard approach to pedestrian signals in NSW. Without seeing the detail of the traffic signals, presumably the E-W phase on President Avenue will be long, and the ‘Civic Avenue out’ phase only called occasionally. Pedestrians and cyclists should not be limited to crossing Civic Avenue only on a short green ‘walk’ after the Civic Avenue out phase. The ‘walk’ signal should be green by default, and cars turning left into Civic Avenue should wait for gaps.
- If high use of the shared path on the south side of President Avenue is anticipated, consideration could be given to a continuous footpath treatment at local streets such as Traynor Avenue, Oakdale Avenue and Lachal Avenue, to reinforce the priority of shared path users over those turning in/out. This would have the added benefit of a traffic calming measure, reducing the likelihood of additional motorway traffic trying to ‘rat-run’ through these streets.
Other Local Road Crossings
- Several road crossings are marked as “pedestrian crossings (‘cyclists must dismount’)” – Bruce Street, Civic Avenue and Chuter Avenue. The ATC is likely to be popular with cyclists as there is a scarcity of safe, well-connected cycling routes in the area. If the alternative for cyclists is an unprotected and uncontrolled crossing where they do not have priority, is very likely that many cyclists will use these pedestrian crossings without dismounting, in their pursuit of a safe, direct journey, and it is unsurprising that cyclists often do this at many other locations in Sydney. Thus this crossing design creates the conditions for pedestrian-cyclist conflict, and cyclist-driver conflict where drivers think cyclists don’t have the right to use the crossing without dismounting. We are in favour of a clearly marked combined cyclist-pedestrian crossing such as the one at Burrows Road/Campbell St, St Peters.
- The Bestic St crossing is ambiguous, one page says only ‘pedestrian refuge’ while Figure 4-4 says “Pedestrian and cyclist crossing”. A pedestrian and cyclist crossing here is vital for a seamless connection to the Muddy Creek paths.
- Have indicative plans for the M6 Stage 2 been prepared that are compatible with the ATC?
- Could ‘Stage 2 ATC works’ – using the F6 reservation to continue these paths further south, and improving east-west active transport connectivity – go ahead as a separate project, in advance of the Stage 2 motorway, given their much lower cost than the motorway?
- When the Stage 2 motorway is built, will President Avenue be reduced in size again (eg fewer lanes, shorter crossings, remove slip lanes) to take advantage of (or encourage) traffic entering the M6 from further south instead of from President Avenue?
Thank you for taking the time to read our feedback.
Board Member, WalkSydney