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HomeLatest NewsWhat do you call this ? Concrete road slabs divide Manly traffic

What do you call this ? Concrete road slabs divide Manly traffic

New traffic control measures around Manly – concrete median islands – have been installed along North and South Steyne on the seafront and selected roads in the central business district over the last 48 hours, leaving many to wonder… why?

The crux of it, explained Council, is to narrow the traffic lane to slow people down.

We understand it has been paid for by Transport for NSW and installed without prior warning to residents or even local councillors. This afternoon workers were told to stop all installations while the measures are reviewed following a number of complaints.

Median island, North Steyne. The parking bays on either side of the tree were later reassigned and marked for small cars only. Photo: Alec Smart

But why are they needed ? It comes down to pedestrian safety, Council explained.

A spokesperson stated, “Council has implemented a 30km/h speed limit in the Manly high pedestrian activity area, in partnership with Transport for NSW.

“Prior to installing the 30km/h speed limit there were a number of pedestrian accidents along the beach front and within the CBD zone, due to the high pedestrian activity and other distractions experienced by drivers in the Manly area. Lowering the speed of the traffic will reduce the severity of any accidents that occur.”

The spokesperson continued, “The initial implementation of the 30km/h speed zone resulted in a reduction in average traffic speed from around 45km/h to 39km/h, which is still higher than the desired traffic speed.

“To further reduce speeding in busy pedestrian areas, Council is installing concrete median islands across the Manly CBD to reinforce the 30km/h speed limit by narrowing the travel lane.”

One of 10 median islands installed along Manly seafront to slow traffic. Photo: Alec Smart

Puncture risk?

However, as well as praise for the new measures, the islands have triggered a rash of complaints from some road users, who warn they’ll puncture tyres because they’re low-lying and difficult to see.

Although Council asserts the narrow islands have been introduced to better manage traffic and reduce risks to pedestrians, critics claim that the islands themselves are new traffic hazards, especially for vehicles reversing from beachfront parking bays onto North Steyne.

A Council spokesperson told Manly Observer “For a majority of these sites, parking spaces will not be affected. Where there is an impact on parking spaces, parking bays will be marked as suitable for small cars only.”

Several seafront parking spaces have since been painted with the words ‘Small Car’ (see our photo below). It is not known whether this mitigates council against litigation if a larger vehicle reversed into a median island and damaged its undercarriage.

The ten median islands along the seafront, from Stuart Somerville Bridge in Queenscliff to Manly Corso, average four metres in length and 50cm in width, and protrude approximately 25cm from the road surface. Others in the town centre are larger, some wide enough to be pedestrian refuges.

An older lane divider with round edges, made of plastic compound and bolted into the road. Photo: Alec Smart

No soft edges

Don, a Manly resident, pointed out that many of the older median islands in the vicinity, such as the one bolted to the road surface outside the new Manly Post Office on Raglan St (see photo), have rounded edges and are made of tough plastic.

“The new concrete islands are higher and have square edges,” he warned, “which will damage the underside of the cars or puncture tyres if you run over them.”

Manly Observer drove along North Steyne in the early hours of the morning and found the new lane dividers difficult to identify in low light, because they haven’t been marked with red-and-yellow posts or coated in reflective white paint, like other islands around the Northern Beaches.

Another Manly resident told Manly Observer, “They’ve conveniently made one almost across our driveway in Pine St, making it near impossible to get in or out, especially with the cars parking either side of the driveway as well. No consultation or letter from council, would love to hear what they have to say about it.”

Parking bays beside new islands on Manly seafront have been re-allocated to small cars. Photo: Alec Smart

Critics will be disappointed to learn the new islands in the traffic stream are here to stay – being cemented rather than bolted to the road surface (unlike the previous plastic islands and speed humps), they are not easily removed.

The Council spokesperson said, “Signage is currently being installed to notify drivers of the change in driving and parking conditions.”

Council CEO Ray Brownlee added, “Council is continuing to roll out new measures to increase pedestrian safety in our busy Manly CBD. We thank the community for their patience as we continue to reinforce the 30km/h speed limits in high pedestrian areas, including along the busy Manly beachfront. Together we can all keep pedestrians and drivers safe on our local roads.”

However, so many complaints have been made since the installation that Manly Observer understands the program was put on pause this afternoon, 13 January. Council has suspended the installation of the traffic median islands due to a number of safety concerns and, after a trial period has passed, the scheme will be reassessed and a decision made on whether more islands will be installed.

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

Kim Smee, Editor

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