Finbar O’Mallon writes for the Canberra Times “Pedestrian safety around light rail a balance: transport experts“. I get quoted …
A pedestrian was struck by a light rail vehicle at the intersection of Northbourne Avenue and Barry Drive on Saturday morning.
University of Sydney transport expert David Levinson said in European cities trams shared the streets with pedestrians.
“It’s not a problem. Part of it’s the speed and the expectation,” Professor Levinson said.
But Professor Levinson said at Northbourne Avenue, pedestrians were crossing six lanes of traffic and now two tracks.
“That’s eight different points where someone can come in and hit you and you’re trying to make the decision before that happens,” he said.
“That’s a complicated thing for a human to do.”
He also suggested having one consistent green light for pedestrians when crossing Northbourne so they could travel across the entire avenue instead of having to stop midway.
“Cars don’t have to stop halfway through the intersection, why would pedestrians need to?” Professor Levinson said.
Professor Levinson also warned against overloading the network with safety warnings.
“You put a sign everywhere, no sign means anything. You put a sign nowhere and no one has any information,” Professor Levinson said.
Professor Levinson said getting it right was a balance.
Putting up fences risked making it too restrictive for pedestrians, having safety supervisors at major intersections would be too expensive in the long term and loud warning horns would disturb people living in or using the area, he said.
“You want this to be a self explaining experience for the pedestrian.”
Obviously the local engineers on the project, in consultation with the community, will have to consider the alternatives and site in-depth, and test various strategies. This is an issue many LRT systems face, including those in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and I expect the City and Southeast Light Rail in Sydney.