OUR SAY: Council stays focused on road rules in Summer Street debate

IT is not often that councillors vote against a road safety measure, but they did on Tuesday night and most people will probably agree with them.

Roads and Maritime Services (formerly the RTA) had advised council it wanted to erect a fence along the Summer Street median strip all the way from Peisley Street to Sale Street.

The fence would stop pedestrians crossing the busy street anywhere except pedestrian crossings and specified points midway along each block.

The RMS predicted that no-one would have to walk more than 100 metres to a crossing point and the fence would make pedestrians safer.

The government department might have expected more support for the measure, designed to save lives, but every councillor voted against it and the majority of businesses and residents who contacted the Central Western Daily also opposed the idea.

The sticking point for residents and businesses was just what lengths authorities were prepared to go to make crossing the road safer, and at what cost?

It is hard to argue that mustering pedestrians to a limited number of places to cross the road, particularly those places with lights, is going to be safer than letting them cross the road as they please.

But restricting pedestrian movements across Orange’s busiest shopping street will undoubtedly have an impact on retail trade and the improvement in pedestrian safety might be insignificant.

As councillors were quick to point out, the number of pedestrian accidents has been declining, as has the number of heavy trucks in Summer Street after the completion of the Northern Distributor.

Then there is the problem that a pedestrian fence won’t solve, the number of people who dash across Summer Street at crossings, against the lights.

Five minutes spent at the pedestrian lights near the post office on a busy Saturday morning would highlight a far more dangerous habit than pedestrians crossing Summer Street at other places.

Yes, the RMS means well but getting pedestrians to obey the road rules we already have would be a better place to start.


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