Potential death trap along Mike Turtur bike path - Plympton Park tram / pedestrian / bike crossing

I have recently realised the potential death trap that is the Plympton Park tram / pedestrian / bike crossing. See the attached file for some images about this issue.  This crossing is currently putting lives of both adults and kids (including school children) at risk every day (during peak hour traffic).  The crossing is regularly used by cyclists riding along the Mike Turtur bike path between Glenelg and the Adelaide CBD, which claims to be the busiest bike commuting route in Adelaide.

Some more details on the problem and how the numerous near misses that I’ve witnessed occur:

  • Cars backed up from a red stoplight on Marion Road sit idle between the tram line and the pedestrian / bike crossing to the east.
  • Pedestrians / cyclists press the crossing button and after a period of time, get a green person symbol. They begin to cross the road.
  • However, at the same time, cars sitting idle in this “problem area” notice that cars further east along Cross Road have taken off due to a green light on Marion Road, so they also go.
  • Result = near miss or worse an accident, and there is potential for people (including young children heading to/from school) to be severely injured or even killed.
  • In the “problem area”, there are no additional stoplights for car drivers to be aware that the stoplight behind them has turned red due to the pedestrian / bike crossing having a green person symbol.
  • Looking into this matter in more detail, I now consider that the near misses that I have observed are actually as a result of poor road and crossing design, and there being an insufficient number of traffic lights in this section of road. Pedestrians / bikes are crossing the road when a green person symbol is shown, and unfortunately, unknowingly, on some occasions when the timing is right (or wrong), cars are taking off at speed at the same time and only notice the pedestrians / bikes once they are in their field of vision (which is hopefully soon enough).

I consider the fix to be a pretty simple one, and involves installing two additional stop lights on the eastern side of the tram crossing that are linked to the ones on the western side of the tram crossing. These are only required for the east-bound lanes on the northern side of Cross Road.

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A very similar situation occurs for northbound traffic on Morphett Road at the Oaklands railway crossing, which is part of the Marino Rocks greenway.

Have you reported this to DPTI or Marion Council?  I suggest you do.

I suspect they're well aware of the problem, after all it's been like that since it was built. Safe cycling involves determining if your path is about to be crossed by an errant motorist, only optimists get run over thinking a green crossing light is 100% safe.

The proper solution of course is a bicycle flyover like the one being built over South Rd on the Outer Harbor line, but you know what the chances are of of that happening this century.

Actually I think that might be progressing somewhat. I went down Chief street and you can see the path is laid either side along the line. I took a look from Day Tce and I think I saw some progress on the addon. It's going to be on the North side of the line, and I think entry to it will be at the end of Day Tce (so as short as possible)

Yes, the Outer Harbor Greenway is one of my regular rides and I've been keeping an eye on progress. The holes for mounting the Day Tce ramp were drilled by one bloke months ago, not sure what the holdup is/was there. I took the train back to Adelaide a couple of weeks ago just to have a sticky beak at the rail workings up close. There was still a lot of work to do to the path closer to Park Terrace.

This one will be grade separated, going through the underpass along with the Seaford Railway Line.

Until then, just ride defensively.

Wow, I see what you mean. In short: too long a distance between the traffic light (at the tram line) and the pedestrian crossing (maybe 40 metres east), on the eastbound side. That is a very dangerous situation, and easily fixed by a couple of extra lights, in sync with the existing ones.

No way should it wait the many years (if ever) for a bridge, especially since children use it.

Have you written to anyone about this, and what was the response?

Here's a little diagram which might help. Feel free to use (or adapt with better art!)

The gap is 14 metres from the nearest part of the level crossing to the ped/bike crossing in the left lane, 22m in the right. 

The ideal solution would be to shift the ped/bike crossing closer to the level crossing so there's a minimal gap, but the pedestrian level crossing is in the way. The pedestrian level crossing can't be just removed (too important for the walkability of the block between the tram line and Anzac Highway) and can't be easily shifted back along the line thanks to electrical supply equipment and sighting of signals.

I see next to no chance of DPTI adding an extra traffic light and stop line there, because it would take a level crossing with one probable collision type (queuing) and turn it into a crossing with two probable collision types (queuing + very high risk of short-stacking). It would be completely against the state Level Crossing Safety Strategy, and a recipe for the tram drivers to go on strike.

I would suggest the best method for addressing it would be a two-step process:

1. A standard level crossing queuing treatment, using the yellow hatched markings that have been rolled out at many of the level crossings around Adelaide where queueing is the major risk - but extended east as far as the ped/bike crossing which is about 4-6 metres further than I've seen them anywhere else. Follow up with surveillance to determine if it has the desired effect on driver behaviour, if it does then no need to go any further.

2. If the problem persists, install obstacle detectors which would 'pause' the light phase with both the eastbound road traffic lights and the ped/bike crossing showing red if there is queued traffic on the crossing or in the gap. Once the road traffic has cleared, the pedestrians/cyclists would get the green to cross and normal operation would resume. The traffic control system in Adelaide is quite advanced and has plenty of available capacity for the use of extra data sources such as obstacle detectors.

I've no idea what short-stacking is, but I don't see how there can be a problem if the potential new lights (A2 in my picture) are exactly in phase with the existing lights. (Or even better, A2 goes red very slightly after A).

As for moving the crossing, I would have thought that is possible too - other pedestrian crossings are closer to the tram line. (Goodwood Road for example).

Short-stacking is where there is insufficient space between a level crossing and the next spot where vehicles are required to stop.

If a car with a trailer passes the present stop line as the lights are showing amber, it will have to stop at the new stop line with the rear fouling the level crossing. Not good. 

I already addressed the problem with shifting the pedestrian crossing closer to the level crossing. The access to the pedestrian level crossing of the tram line is in the way, and shifting the pedestrian level crossing back along the line to the north-east would be very complex due to the presence of electrical and signalling equipment for the tram corridor.

There is already a standard treatment for the type of problem currently encountered at this crossing which has proven to be quite effective, that should be applied before coming up with other untested innovations. 

I am not familiar with the road, so am going from the diagrams, descriptions and Google Streetview. If I understand you correctly Dave, you are suggesting that the solution might be to paint yellow hatching on the road all the way from the stop line before the tram line down to the bike/ped crossing. This is intended to indicate to drivers that they should not cross the stop line until they can see their way clear to not have to stop on the yellow hatching. Did I correctly understand this is the first part of your proposal? That looks like it might be a total of about 50 metres (if I am using the Google scale approximately right). Would DPTI be happy with the traffic waiting to cross the tram line until it can see clear to also complete crossing the bike crossing? I imagine that would disrupt flow quite a bit further back too, at times when the current issue occurs (Marion Road queue fills past the bike crossing).

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