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road safety

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The Peaceful Bayside Action Group was originally formed in response to the critical road safety issues in the Bayside local government area. Local and state governments and police work together to ensure safe residential and commercial areas. Our community consultation has identified 50 plus hotspots in Bayside where residents are in distress because of frequent dangerous driving and hooning.

We support a combination of both short-term and long-term solutions to this safety and liveability issue plaguing Bayside. Peaceful Bayside is committed to working with all stakeholders, including the offending drivers, to develop strategies that focus on the safety and enjoyment of residents and visitors to the area.

short-term solutions

Community Reporting

We strongly encourage community members reporting dangerous hooning. Peaceful Bayside has been advised by St George Police to encourage community members to report dangerous driving and hooning incidents to

131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or by calling 000 if the crime is in the process of taking place. By reporting the incidents, the police are able to create accurate data on the scale of the problem in our local area and commit more resources to policing. In the summer of 2020/2021, Peaceful Bayside’s safe streets campaign led to increased community reporting of dangerous driving in Bayside and resulted in Operation Engage, a crackdown on dangerous drivers by police, Transport for NSW and the EPA.

Community Consultation

In consultation with the community, we propose a review of local hotspots where anti-social drivers are known to congregate and for focused CCTV and Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) technology to be installed as well as other measures implemented to reduce hooning and anti-social behaviour. We have already polled our supporters and found more than 50 local hotspots for hooning and dangerous driving. Since November 2020, we have urged Bayside Council on a number of occasions to consult with the community to create a road safety plan for these areas but, to date, this has not been forthcoming. Once elected to council our representatives will pursue this further. 

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Noise Camera Trial

We have conducted research to establish what other countries and cities have successfully implemented to reduce anti-social behaviour, hooning and loud noise of bikes and cars. The noise camera detects road vehicle noise with precision accuracy recording noise level and video in two directions continuously. The system automatically emails the authorities to identify a trigger. The cameras have been installed in seven areas of the UK and some areas in New York. Peaceful Bayside is in contact with the project leads and manufacturers of the cameras. We will be seeking approval from the relevant authorities to proceed with a trial of one of the cameras. The first camera installed in the UK resulted in excess of 150 fines within a three-month period.

 

Read more: the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

School Traffic Sub-Committees

We are acutely aware of dangerous driving and road safety issues at our local schools. In consultation with the school communities, we will develop a plan for safer bike and walking tracks, better school crossings, traffic calming measures and signage, which will help improve pedestrian safety and reinforce the importance of safety around schools. We acknowledge that locals know their area best so we will encourage every school parent and friends community to make suggestions mapping where the current problem areas are around their school, and create their own proposed solutions. This method has already been tested at Kyeemagh Primary School and North Brighton Preschool through the Traffic Sub-Committee that includes parents and teachers.

Establishing a Hooning Taskforce

The issues of hooning and unsafe driving are not a problem unique to Bayside. Many other communities face and tackle similar issues. Logan City Council in Queensland recognised that hooning is an emerging community safety issue that needs to be addressed at both state and local level. At its meeting of 26 August 2020 (Minute No. 104/2020), Logan Council endorsed a Terms of Reference for the formation of a Hooning Taskforce to tackle the issue of hooning within the City of Logan. The Hooning Taskforce is a collaborative cross-agency group, which will provide direction and leadership to focus on the issue of hooning across the city. The taskforce will work collaboratively to identify hotspots, deploy resources, develop a multi-agency action plan (Hooning Action Plan), report on results and evaluate outcomes. In particular, the taskforce has established a Working Group which will operate under its auspices, with its main focus being to develop and subsequently deliver upon the multi-agency plan. 

Read more: City of Logan

Street surfaces trial

Other councils are piloting a road surface spray seal on bitumen to stop dangerous driving in hooning hotspots, including the City of Hume and Brisbane City Council.


Read more: City of Hume and Brisbane City Council

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long-term solutions

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Reducing speeds

Reducing the current speed limits in some residential areas from 50km/hour to 40km/hour or 30km/hour, in line with the global United Nations Streets for Life campaign. This is already being trialled by other councils. This would be supported by a SLOW DOWN IN MY STREET campaign encouraging residents to put road safety stickers on their bins. 

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Local Road Safety Campaign

Create a locally resonant Road Safety campaign reinforcing positive messaging around road safety, aiming to:

  • Change behaviour, focusing on the perception and acceptability of speeding and dangerous driving, especially in young male drivers 21-39 years

  • Promote and instil a sense of responsibility in all drivers to do the right thing

  • Decrease the incidence of crashes on our roads and promote residents’ sense of safety and peace on our streets.

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Trial Street Play program 

In Summer 2020, North Sydney Council launched a pop-up ‘Street Play’ pilot program, where the streets were transformed into public open spaces for children to play and the community to enjoy. Once elected to Council, we will pursue implementing a trial Street Play program in Bayside.

 

Read more: North Sydney Council

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Positive engagement

As part of its community consultation and road safety education, Peaceful Bayside is keen to explore ideas for engaging offending drivers in the long-term solutions. We understand the issues are nuanced and require an appreciation of the difference between hooning and lawful expressions of motorsport enthusiasm. We are excited about finding creative ways to redirect anti-social behaviour and engage the passion of motor fans in positive ways. We are also acutely aware that it is important to ensure people are not being unfairly targeted by police and enforcement action, and that offending drivers have outlets to express their passion in ways that add value to our community, for example, classic car shows, photographic exhibition of the history of car culture in Bayside, and educational role model engagement for young people.

Alternative Youth Activities

We will lead Bayside Council to investigate and invest in more diverse recreational facilities for young people, such as:

  • A bike jump track at the entrance to Riverine Park

  • An ecologically sound mountain bike trail for juniors throughout Spring Creek Wetland - like the one at Mt Annan

  • A larger mountain bike trail around the edges of Riverine Park, for family members - like at Mt Annan

  • A swing park designed for teenage girls near the netball courts on West Botany Street, or another suitable location

Read more:

Urban design solutions

Peaceful Bayside has consulted with the Committee for Sydney about the urban design solutions to create safer streets. There are many other local government areas in Sydney that have already successfully tackled these issues through improved urban design, and we support the Bayside Council engaging the Committee for Sydney to bring these best practice solutions to Bayside.

We also look to the Global Street Design Guide as important thought leadership in urban street design, and advocate for Bayside Council urban planners and transport planners to embrace these principles that recognise ”cities are places for people” - “the guide shifts the parameters of designing urban streets from the typical point of view of automobile movement and safety, to include access, safety and mobility for all users, environmental quality, economic benefit, enhancement of place, public health and overall quality of life.”

 

Read more: Global Designing Cities Initiative

“Inspired by the work in 70 cities in 40 countries on six continents, this guide marks the next step toward changing the old road hierarchy, with designs that save lives, prioritize people and transit, reflect diverse communities, and better serve everyone on the street. The real-world case studies in these pages are a new global blueprint for safer, higher- performing streets and a permission slip for city leaders to innovate and translate these designs to their own roads.”
 

Read more: Global Street Design Guide

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Trial Corso on Bay Street

COVID-19 has seen the loss of trade to local businesses and unsafe driving and excessive vehicle noise exacerbates this problem by discouraging locals and visitors from coming to the Brighton Le Sands restaurant and shopping precinct. To attract families and visitors back and to disrupt the parading of noisy vehicles, we have proposed that the section of Bay Street between The Grand Parade and Moate Avenue is closed to traffic (other than emergency vehicles) and turned into a corso (mall) each Sunday from 7am to 12am (Monday) throughout the summer months (commencing 13 December 2021), with a possible extension until Easter. 

The Brighton Le Sands Chamber of Commerce has suggested these events could be called ‘Brighton Your Day’. Family-focused activities, such as face painting and musicians could provide an inclusive and fun atmosphere on the corso. Arts and crafts markets could give local businesses and artisans an opportunity to maximise exposure and sales in the busy lead-up to Christmas. Our many diverse and vibrant multi-cultural groups could be invited to be involved, including performances. Importantly, First Nations people would be acknowledged and represented at such events.

 

These activities would support local businesses with their COVID-19 recovery, which is in line with the NSW government’s recent push to promote al fresco dining, and create more social cohesion as well as a greater sense of community and liveability. It would also give locals a much-needed reprieve from excessive motor vehicle noise and unsafe drivers in what is a significant hotspot. We acknowledge this initiative will require the support of stakeholders including the Transport for NSW. We are, however, aware of precedents for the closure of this section of Bay Street for public festivities.

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A high-powered car crashing into a flag pole on Bay Street whilst doing a ‘burnout’ in front of families on a busy Sunday morning on 27 September 2020, with the driver and his passenger walking away and abandoning the car, was a line-in-the-sand moment for the community.

There have been other serious accidents caused by dangerous driving along Bay Street and The Grand Parade. This includes a bus shelter demolished a week after the incident mentioned above, and a resident’s front fence being smashed in August 2019. These incidents involved cars mounting the footpath, and attracted negative media attention. A lady was also recently hit by a car at the intersection of Bay Street and The Grand Parade. 

Feedback we have received from residents indicates there have been many near-misses and we are aware of some fatalities. We must not wait for a tragedy before taking the necessary steps to resolve this issue, such as those that occurred near Kogarah Station, where two young lives were lost. The problems in Kogarah had been highlighted many times, especially after the first death. No action was taken until a young schoolgirl was killed.

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Regarding excessive vehicle noise, residents are experiencing mental distress and constant sleep interruptions caused by modified cars and motorbikes revving loudly and backfiring in the Brighton Le Sands restaurant precinct and surrounding areas. This noise is not restricted to Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and long weekends. It occurs throughout the week, especially in the summer. We know that many residents choose to travel outside the area rather than eat in Bay Street or The Grand Parade, due to excessive vehicle noise and feeling threatened by dangerous driving. Visitors choose not to come to the area for the same reasons. The excessive vehicle noise and prevalence of dangerous driving is coming at a very real economic cost to the area. 

As far back as 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report titled ‘Burden of disease from environmental noise’. The authors concluded that

"there is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population and ranked traffic noise second amongst environmental threats to public health after air pollution, with the most obvious impacts on health being:

·    interrupted sleep, with its flow-on effects of tiredness, impaired memory and creativity, impaired judgment and weakened psychomotor skills.

·      research has shown that people living near airports or busy roads have a higher incidence of headaches, take more sleeping pills and sedatives, are more prone to minor accidents, and are more likely to seek psychiatric treatment.

·      noise sets off the body’s acute stress response, which raises blood pressure and heart rate, potentially mobilising a state of hyperarousal. It is this response that can lead to cardiovascular disease and other health issues."

After another difficult year facing lockdowns and restricted business conditions due to COVID-19, we must do everything we can to ensure local businesses have the best chance to recover.  We want our community to be a peaceful and safe place for residents and visitors. We want a pleasant, liveable area with prosperous local businesses. Bayside should be the jewel of the south, but instead locals feel disrespected, unsafe and unhappy.

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Image by Anthony Tran