Clearways and 40km zones coming to a street near you

On 15 September the City of Sydney’s (CoS) Traffic Committee unanimously approved the proposal to introduce peak hour clearways [“No Stopping” zones] on several of the city’s main roads.

The details of the proposal – including a map – can be viewed here. [Note that the map’s highlighting of the affected area of Park St is incorrect. Item J indicates that the Park St No Stopping zone will apply only between Pitt and George (not Elizabeth and George).]

Notably, Kent St (on which a bi-directional cycleway is under construction) is unaffected by this proposal.

These clearways are aimed at vastly improving the flow of peak hour bus movements (peak volumes are approx 360 buses/hour) through the city, but around Wynyard and over the Bridge in particular. The essential mechanism used to achieve this was the removal of the existing “No Parking” provisions. The City was finding that despite the “No Parking” instructions, morning peak hour flows were being obstructed by illegally parked cars. Under the “No Parking” provision, Council had the right to fine, but not remove the vehicles; clearways [“No Stopping’ zones] will give the City the right to immediately tow the vehicle. (Tellingly, no vehicle parking was harmed in this manoeuvre.)

The Traffic Committee received representations from both Terry Lee-Williams (CoS Manager Transport Strategy) and Kate Foy (TransportNSW’s Director Metropolitan Strategy). Interestingly, the motion was carried by the Committee unanimously and without a peep from anyone. I took this as a sign of genuine intent to collaborate on the principles of the recently-announced Keneally/Clover Moore Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

(Background: The Traffic Committee is actually a committee of the RTA, and not The City. Council has been delegated certain powers from the RTA in relation to matters on local roads. A condition of this delegation is that Council must take into the advice of the Traffic Committee. The Committee comprises voting members (The City, RTA, NSW Police, local State Members) and several non-voting advisors (eg, SHFA, BIKESydney/BNSW, STA, TWU).

Terry Lee-Williams advised that this is the first tranche of amendments to the City’s traffic management in pursuit of affecting the MoU. Other measures will be presented to the Traffic Committee “in the coming months”.

In relation to the roll out of 40km/h speed limits across the City of Sydney area, this is something that will most likely be approved on a per-precinct (think at the scale of two adjacent suburbs, eg, Newtown and Erskineville) basis, and would likely take several years to complete for the entire City area, although large swathes of streets might be speed-reduced in a short space of time. Just to be clear, it’s not likely something that would come into effect across the entire City network instantaneously.

That said, there will be quick gains in many areas on the back of the PCTC (Pedestrian, Cycling and Traffic Calming) Plans currently being implemented. The City appears genuine in wanting to achieve a road 40km/h network (excluding the main arterials controlled by the RTA). The most likely way this will manifest is as a progressive “spread” from the CBD area. The speed of the roll out will be most informed by how quickly the City (through the Traffic Committee) can gain RTA approval for whatever traffic engineering schemes (road narrowings, speed humps, kerb build outs…) it proposes in order to suitably present streets/roads as amenable to being speed-reduced.

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