Council reacts to safety concerns about new tram separation kerbing

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Brendan Rees

Resident concerns over the safety of new tram separation kerbing along Abbotsford St has prompted the City of Melbourne to make various proposed safety improvements.

The raised kerbs, which separate trams from vehicles, were installed earlier this year between Flemington Rd and Molesworth St as part of a Yarra Trams and Department of Transport (DoT) project to reduce collisions.

However, since the tram separators had been installed, the council had heard concerns from several residents regarding various road safety issues, particularly motorists finding the concrete-coloured kerbing difficult to see at night and during wet weather. 

According to the council, it has been working with Yarra Trams and the DoT to address these matters and have proposed a variety of “post implementation safety improvements”. 

The proposed measures include painting the kerbing white, installing raised reflective pavement markers on top of the tram separation kerbs at 15 metre spacings, and installing “keep left” signs in front of the first section of kerbing.

In a letter to residents dated November 24, the council said the proposed measures have been approved and would soon be carried out in the Abbotsford St section.

However, the council said it had installed a design modification to provide a gap in the tram separator kerbing just south of the Flemington Rd tram stop, allowing northbound motorists to perform a U-turn.

“This will allow northbound motorists the opportunity to more easily access the nine on-street parking spaces on the east side of Abbotsford St, between Flemington Rd and Chapman St,” the council said, which would be undertaken “as soon as practicable”.

“Unfortunately, we are not able to modify the existing design to allow right turn vehicles access into the petrol station.”

In other developments, the council has received approval to install 40km/h speed limits on all local roads in North and West Melbourne, which will be rolled out in coming months.

A design modification was also approved to remove one car parking space at the east side of Abbotsford St, to the north of Molesworth St, as well as realigning part of the separation kerbing to improve driver safety.

The council’s engineers had determined there was a “squeeze point” along Abbotsford St where the road surface narrows to three metres between the parking bay and the kerb separator – less than the standard 3.3-metre-wide traffic lane width. 

 

To resolve concerns about collisions occurring between moving traffic and parked vehicles on Abbotsford St (such as wing mirrors being struck), the council has approved to install a “dashed buffer zone line marking” about half a metre from the parking bays.

 

“This aims to visually narrow the width of the traffic lane to encourage reduced vehicle travel speeds and encourage motorists to drive further away from parked vehicles,” the council said.

Community concerns were also raised about the existing horizontal deflection – a traffic calming measure made vehicles swerve slightly – on the northbound traffic lane of Abbotsford St, just north of Haines St. 

To address this, the council has approved works to shift three parking spaces to the north by about 3.3 metres. No parking spaces will be removed.

Resident Brendan Gleeson said that overall, he applauded the council for listening to community feedback about safety issues relating to the new kerbing.

He also said the new 40mh/h speed limit was a “huge step forward” in terms of safety, as was the pedestrian crossing planned for Abbotsford St to help connect the new North Melbourne Primary School campus.

“Speeding, however, is a huge and growing problem in the area, and many drivers ignore crossings with pedestrians constantly imperilled,” he said. 

“Traffic calming and enforcement are both urgently needed before we have a terrible accident.” •

 

Caption: Various safety improvements will be made to a section of Abbotsford St in response to concerns of new tram separation kerbing.

Photo: Ajay Viswanath.

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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