Nicholson Street is a north-south residential and commercial street in Abbotsford. To the south, it continues as Lennox Street. Nicholson Street is a key north-south route for people walking or cycling, parallel to the key north-south route for people driving, which is Hoddle Street / Punt Road.

Image credit: Apple Maps, Streets Alive Yarra
Nicholson Street at Mollison Street, looking south. Image credit: Google Maps.
Nicholson Street at Langridge, looking south. Image credit: Google Maps.

Problems

Nicholson Street was assessed as part of the LAPM 13 review of Abbotsford, with hazards identified for people walking and cycling, caused by high volumes and speeds of motor vehicle traffic. In particular, the hazard of “right hook collisions” was identified at the intersection of Nicholson Street with Langridge Street and similarly at Mollison Street.

Issues identified in Abbotsford and on Nicholson Street. Image credit: City of Yarra.

Trial median barrier

One outcome of the Local Area Place Making (LAPM) analysis of Abbotsford was to improve safety on Nicholson Street by installing pedestrian crossings, bump outs and a median barrier.

Proposals from endorsed Abbotsford LAPM plan. Image credit: City of Yarra.

What ended up happening was council initiated a 12-month trial of one component of the proposed set of treatments, the median barrier, covering the intersections with Langridge and Mollison, using low-cost tactical urbanism methods. The barrier acted to eliminate “right hook collisions”, whist retaining vehicle access to each property. The trial median barrier was removed after only 3 months of the 12 month trial, allegedly to address safety concerns.

Trial median barrier on Nicholson Street. Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra.

Assessment

Throughout the LAPM, trial and trial-removal, a key deficiency of council’s process was the failure to conduct Safe System assessments. Safe System forms the core of Australia’s and Victoria’s road safety strategies. The process provides quantified guidance to street design practitioners and stakeholders. We know that council is familiar with Safe System, because council has conducted Safe System assessment for other projects such as Elizabeth Street.

Safe System assessment of options for Elizabeth Street. Image credit: City of Yarra.

To date, council has not published any Safe System assessments for Nicholson Street. In contrast, Streets Alive Yarra has, and included a copy in our submission to council regarding the trial:

Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra
Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra

Streets Alive Yarra’s Safe System assessment concluded that the median barrier should be reinstated, or even better, install a modal filter. If construction works at Mollison Street require the removal of the median barrier at Mollison Street, then the median barrier can still be retained at Langridge Street.

Proposal for pedestrian crossing at Langridge Street

Instead of removing the pedestrian crossing at Langridge Street, as proposed by council, Streets Alive Yarra proposes to retain and expand the pedestrian crossing.

Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra, background from Nearmap

Conclusion

Nicholson Street is a key north-south route for people walking or cycling, parallel to the key north-south route for people driving, which is Hoddle Street / Punt Road. Significant hazards exist for people walking and cycling, which council has failed to adequately address. Council needs to either:

  • Install traffic calming treatments (such as median barriers or modal filters), or
  • Install protected bicycle lanes, protected intersections and raised (continuous) footpaths across intersections.

Of these options, Streets Alive Yarra recommends the first, as it has a significantly better benefit/cost ratio. It would also deliver a calmer, quieter, more attractive environment.

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