February 25 - March 2, 2024: Issue 615


Call for rethink of Barrenjoey Road crossing & speed limits: Avalon Beach

Barrenjoey road new crossing, Sunday February 18, 2024

We’ve had much debate over the last year or so about the pros and cons of the shared pedestrian zone on trial in the centre of Avalon. Its safety, convenience and aesthetic attributes have been a contentious topic of local conversation. However I’ve heard much less discussion about the new arrangements, implemented by Transport for NSW, involving the island crossing and fences on Barrenjoey Road.

For many of us, the appearance of the new fence, unannounced, in the middle of Barrenjoey Road last year was a rude shock, especially after the Avalon Preservation Association fought one off in 2020. This fence now partially blocks the open view from Avalon village through to the beach, whilst preventing passengers running late from cutting across the road to catch their bus. It also has the effect of corralling students on their way to school - and everyone else and their dogs on weekends - onto the island, preventing them from wandering across the road wherever they choose. It also means that fewer kids cross at the Avalon Parade lights, preferring the short cut across to Woollies (on the grass of course, rather than longer route via the fancy double concrete footpath that wraps itself around the Norfolk Island Pine tree right next to the supermarket.) 

Unsurprisingly, the crossing has proved a huge success with pedestrians - with so many of them now using it that they’ve worn a wide diagonal track through the grassy area from Woolies to the road.

Avalon Beach reserve beside village carpark - new crossing, Sunday February 18, 2024

Avalon Beach reserve  - new crossing, Sunday July 30, 2023

Avalon Beach reserve  - new crossing, Sunday July 30, 2023

Avalon Beach reserve  - new crossing, Sunday July 30, 2023

Avalon Beach reserve  - new crossing not used by these youngsters, Sunday July 30, 2023

Avalon Beach reserve beside village carpark - new crossing, February 20, 2023

I often walk from Avalon shops over to the beach on a weekday morning and see crowds of high spirited kids, in Avalon Primary uniforms, crossing from the beach side of Barrenjoey Road, and those in Barrenjoey High outfits going in the opposite direction. It concerns me that I’ve also seen some close calls.

The traffic’s heavy at that time of day and bunches of kids walking or on bikes, waiting for a break to cross, are surrounded by cars often travelling at high speed. Others are weaving their way around vehicles stopped at the lights.

On the other hand, if you’re driving, it’s hard - coming out of the beach carpark next to Avalon Surf Club - to see anyone crossing towards Woollies from the traffic island, and this section of road attracts lots of pedestrians and cars on weekends and during holidays as well.

So at this point, I’d like to kick off a conversation about traffic and safety in Avalon. I’m not going to quote reams of statistics, but the NSW government Centre for Road Safety says that: “In a crash between a car and a pedestrian, there's a 90 per cent chance a pedestrian will survive if the car was travelling at 30km/h. There's a 60 per cent chance if the car was travelling at 40kph, and a 10 per cent chance at 50km/h.”  

I think the island crossing needs a rethink and I’d like to see the speed limit reduced to 40kph, at least during school start and finish times and maybe more generally.   

And at the same time, how about we extend the 40kph school zone north to just past the bus stop at North Avalon Road, because lots of students catch buses south from there to schools outside Avalon, or get off at this stop to go to Barrenjoey High.  It would also make it a little easier for cars to enter Barrenjoey Rd from North Avalon Rd during these periods. 

Alternatively, we could consider changing the speed limit at normal times from 60kph to 50 or even 40 along the stretch from the intersection with Avalon Parade to just past the bus stop on North Avalon Rd. Palm Beach already has a 40kph zone and with children travelling to and from school right along this stretch of Barrenjoey Rd - with a 40kph zone to cater for Maria Regina Catholic Primary School - I think we could prevent a serious accident by extending the speed limit restriction further down the road.

On another traffic gripe, I’d love to see a speed bump just before the roundabout at Kamikaze Corner - where Barrenjoey Rd, Plateau Rd and Old Barrenjoey Rd meet - to help drivers coming off the Plateau turn into Barrenjoey Rd. As a regular user of this roundabout, I wait and wait and wait there for cars coming out of Bends to slow down, never mind give way to vehicles on the roundabout as the traffic rules require. (This is the top of Transport for NSW’s 10 most misunderstood road rules) However, much of the Bends has a slower speed limit - which makes little difference if you’re stuck in a traffic jam there anyway - and through Newport it’s 50kph, so maybe there’s an argument for continuing that through Avalon.

I’ve discussed some of these issues with council staff in December and also wrote to our state MP Rory Amon, asking for them to advocate with the state government on them. Although I’ve had responses to my emails, so far I haven’t heard of any progress. 

However, with consultation on the Avalon Shared Space finishing this week (on Wednesday 28 February 2024), it might be worth a mention if you’re making a submission to council. With so many recent changes in the village, now’s the time to speak up and let the council know what you think. I love our relaxed village atmosphere and think a few measures to slow the traffic on the main road - prioritising the safety of our kids and everyone else walking or bike riding - would fit the aesthetic perfectly.

Councillor Miranda Korzy