Fremantle’s Integrated Transport Strategy – my take on what we need

Fremantle has initiated a review of it ‘Integrated Transport Strategy’ and not before time.

This Strategy has a planning horizon of 15 years. So what was Fremantle’s Transport situation like 15 years ago, ie, 1999? Was it any different than today, 15 years later? Are the issues of 1999 any different to the issues of 2014? One would have to say, many of them haven’t changed, haven’t been improved, but we have some new ones to add to the list.

15 years ago and more,

  • The volume of HGV using Hampton Road as a ‘through’ route to the harbor, created a divide between the suburbs east of Hampton rd and those on the west. Making single lane in places has made a slight improvement for pedestrians crossing the road, but otherwise, has it changed. There is a constant stream of HGV’s still using Hampton Rd as their preferred route from Naval Base for the growing volume of break up container traffic. Why is this designated by MRWA as a Heavy Goods Route? What has the City done to get that removed?
  • Back then there were more freight trains carrying containers into and out of the harbor, reducing the volume of HGV on our roads.
  • The Bus Port was located adjacent to the Railway Station with another major pick point outside ‘Target’. Nothing much changed or improved there!
  • Bus routes into the Bus Port, still the same. A plus is the Bus Lanes on Hampton Rd. But still trundling done the cappuccino strip, ie, the hub of the City’s most unique characteristic, the Entertainment Precinct. Coming from the north and east still the same route directly down Queen Victoria St into the CBD.
  • Car Parks no significant change in number or location. Parking fees have changed. Woolstores car park was freely available but now constrained to Woolstores Shopping centre users. Alma St car park, servicing the hospital, now run in almost military fashion by a private concern.
  • A little more than 15 years ago, Fremantle was ‘The Bicycle Friendly City’, with cyclists all permitted to use the CBD pavements and paths, not now. But it is once again making moves in that direction, with a significant number of partial bike lanes.
  • South Terrace wasn’t traffic calmed, so it was safer then, without the ‘Calming  Islands’ which endanger cyclists.
  • The Cappuccino Strip is still not pedestrianised! Several expensive half baked approaches to calm it have been tried.

At the Strategic Level, I have to conclude that nothing much has changed or improved. The city has made small scale changes here and there. The latter characterizes the approach, ie, do a bit on a section of road, here and there, and likewise on others. If the latter was a strategic approach, ie, let’s be brave and try some different approaches, then it would be praise worthy, but that was not the Strategy.

What next:

I don’t think there is any argument to make the West End and in fact most of the City Ward a calmed traffic area. As much as possible, devoid of motor vehicles. Designed for pedestrians and bikes (at a very moderate speed). Great access to public transport. The City Ward is in my opinion the defining characteristic of Fremantle, ie, it is Fremantle’s ‘Entertainment Precinct’. Hence this establishes the framework for the ITS for the CBD.

For comparison, City Ward isn’t significantly larger than Galleria! It is perfectly feasible to consider this a total pedestrian zone!

Thinking outside the square:

When problem solving it sometimes pays to take a radical position, and then modify that with pragmatism. So why not start from the perspective of every street in City Ward being a no go area for motor traffic?

  • How would Fire Engines get in and out? Similar issue for buses.
  • Harbour and South Mole traffic could use Victoria Quay Rd, maybe too much of a constraint, but possibly feasible.
  • If the Bus Port stays adjacent to the railway Station how would they get in from north, east and south?
    • Move the Bus Port, and where too?
    • Who and what is it serving?
    • What about residential traffic with their cars
    • Service vehicles for residential, commercial, utilities and council (eg, garbage)?
      • Time zoned entry?
      • Limited access, eg, speed restraint on pedestrianised routes,
      • Localized traffic only.
      • Block off some roads so they are no longer through routes to stop them becoming rat runs.
      • Car Park access
        • Relocate car parks to feed in routes.

I think one can imagine a very different Entertainment Precinct, based on such a problem solving approach. The outcome would be a major change to the character of this area. Most of the issues are solvable without having to open up every street to motor traffic during social hours.

The most significant motor vehicle need remains Emergency and bus routes. Obvious secondary needs would relate to the relocated positions of car parks, and access to South Mole. I suspect these could all be linked to a single set of routes. For example:

North:

  • Motor Traffic entering the City from north and NE, ie, Fremantle Bridge and Canning Hwy, would enter predominantly onto Beach St.
    • This would require a modified intersection to enter Beach Street from a new road at the intersection of Canning/Fremantle Bridge, instead of currently using James St.
    • Elder and Phillimore would then become obvious extension of Beach as the major northerly feed in route, that could service South Mole emergency and bus traffic.
      • This would significantly reduce the motor traffic volume on Queen Victoria St into the northern most boundary of the City Ward.
      • The land to the NW of Beach and Elder is already car park, and is unlikely to ever be zoned suitable for anything else, due to its adjacency to the railway and harbor. So expand it. Make this a new 2/3 storey car park for an extended length.
        • This increased car park would serve the needs of traffic entering from the north and NE.
        • At peak times a free mini bus service would shuttle passengers into other key parts of the City, eg, bus port, railway station, hospital, etc.
        • One of the most significant issues is traffic needing to access Victoria Quay.
          • I think it is ridiculous that the Fremantle Port Authority is effectively a law unto itself. All the traffic to and from here must come through the CoF, and yet the City is for all intents and purposes a bystander.
          • Current plans of FPA are to develop Victoria Quay in direct competition with CoF. What possible reason is there for the City to support such a strategy, and to incorporate their needs within the ITS?
          • As a Council, as things stand, I would oppose through traffic on Beach/Elder/Phillimore. That is, Victoria Quay’s only entry would be via the bridge under the railway at the northern end of Beach St or the gate at the western end of Riverside Rd.

South:

  • The major routes from South within the new Shire boundary will continue to be, Stock Rd, Carrington St, Rockingham Rd and Cockburn Rd.
    • Of these the use of the feeders to Hampton Rd from Rockingham and Cockburn Rds for HGV are the most contentious. They don’t serve the Shire in any way. Rather, they are just convenient alternatives through routes to the harbour. The Strategy must stop this! Nothing less!
    • Within South and City Wards, the southern routes are Hampton, South Terrace and via Douro Rd to Marine Terrace.
    • The South Beach/Coogee developments are increasing the usage of South Terrace and also into and hence from Cockburn Rd
    • The southern end of South Fremantle on South Terrace is seeing an increase in its own Cappuccino Strip. Based on the Fremantle cappuccino strip experience, this too is likely to need traffic calming for increased pedestrian and cycling activity during the 15 year planning horizon of this strategy.
    • Marine Terrace is an under used route.
      • Yet for most of its length is two way dual carriageway.
      • At its most southerly end, the westerly carriageway is car park, and has been for some decades. For the remainder of the dual carriageway there is also significant parking that is fully used, particularly during the weekdays and evenings.
      • Mews Rd, on the western side of the railway adjacent to Marine terrace, is built out with buildings mainly of two storeys.
      • This seems like an obvious location for increased car parking for motor traffic from the South.
        • Like the most southerly part, instead of dual carriageway, make the eastern carriageway a two way road. Use the full extent of the westerly carriageway as car park.
        • The western carriageway adjacent to Mews Rd, zone that 2/3 storey car park.
        • At peak times a free mini bus service would shuttle passengers into other key parts of the City, eg, bus port, railway station, hospital, etc.
        • In the longer term Light Rail would use the adjacent railway, and hence could replace the mini bus shuttle service.
        • South Terrace:
          • With the current need to reduce motor traffic use of South Terrace at its northern end, ie, Cappuccino Strip,
          • Its extension towards the hospital roundabout,
          • Growth in South Fremantle’s own Cappuccino Strip on the same road,
          • The already fully established residential suburb that South Fremantle is and its streets interconnecting with South Terrace,
          • It begs the obvious question as to why South Terrace would remain a feeder route to the City Ward? Certainly remaining a bus and emergency service route? Isn’t Marine Terrace more suitable?
          • Marine Terrace seems to be a more logical feeder route to the City Ward, the Entertainment Precinct, from the South, under the strategy I have outlined so far.
            • High quality road
            • Would be a feeder for southerly car parking
            • Already a feeder to Mews Rd and its entertainment and commercial needs.
            • For permitted traffic to enter the reduced motor vehicle access parts of City Ward, it is the natural existing road to meet that requirement.
            • It is close to the north feeder route of Beach/Elder/Phillimore roads.

Merging North and South:

  • How could the northern and southern feeder routes be joined to give access for emergency, bus and service traffic?
    • With reduced traffic volume on Hampton Rd, ie, no HGV through traffic, residential traffic would be encouraged to enter the City and South Fremantle wards via Hampton Rd.
    • Also the reduced traffic access strategies outlined previously, would reduce the traffic volumes, particularly during social hours.
    • With this reduced traffic volume, would a single one of the existing roads meet the flow requirements? At worst it would require two roads, from the existing four, ie, Cliff, Mouat, Henry and Pakenham.
    • Those 2/3 roads not required as feeders, would have reduced access controls, eg, blocked at High St to stop rat runs, automatically controlled time zoned access controls, eg, hydraulic bollards or gateways, overridible for emergency use.
    • High St (west of Market St) and the 2/3 cross streets would essentially become pedestrian/bike friendly streets, virtually motor traffic free during social hours.
    • Likewise most of the smaller streets , eg, Short, Nairn, Croke, Collie, Essex, William, parts of Cantonment.
    • The latter depending on how far out the Entertainment Precinct ought to extend. There is a case to include the Amendment 49 blocks.

 Some bigger picture aspects:

In the bigger picture, with extended shire boundaries, dealing with the harbour traffic remains a significant issue; as does light (maybe heavy) rail to feed a growing residential corridor to the south.

In this bigger picture where Fremantle will be impacted more by the container traffic to the harbour, issues such as the long term future of the current habour, a possible new harbour on the new southern boundary become significant in all sorts of ways but certainly for Integrated Transport Strategy. How can the City of Fremantle play a significant role in these State level issues?

 An obvious solution is far greater use of the existing rail infrastructure, for freight, passenger use (light and heavy rail). On ABC Catalyst they assessed freight rail, and their specific example serving one of the ports on the eastern seaboard carried 8 trains of 90-100 100 tonne carriages every hour. The current line around Fremantle carries half the number of carriages/train and less than 6 trains per day, not per hour! What a waste of existing infrastructure. Potentially it could reduce HGV transport needs by thousands of vehicles/pa! The benefits to the community of Fremantle, ie, authority wide, would be colossal.

The existing rail line takes in the coastal parts of the City, South Fremantle, Hamilton Hill and Spearwood, including some stations used during the America’s Cup. The rail reserve already includes space for dual tracks. Not that the latter would be need throughout its length during this planning horizon, but certainly would enable passing and shunting space for carrying the variety of traffic I envisage, ie, more freight, and Light rail.

Bike Plan:

The Fremantle Bicycle User Group (BUG) has been lobbying the Council to determine the network of roads identified as being most suitable for cycle use for recreation and commuting. It is hoped this work will happen during the early part of 2014, but it has been repeatedly postpone for several years. This ITS is timely in that regard, will it give the impetus to complete this at last? This is important as many will have noticed the rather piecemeal approach to building cycle infrastructure in Fremantle to date. Motorists hate this bits and pieces approach, predictability helps traffic flow.

 

Car Parking:

I have already outlined two car parking ideas one for the South and North. These are intentionally close too, but not within the Entertainment Precinct. I think there is probably a need for additional parking to the east, but not in such obvious locations. Two locations on Hampton/Ord might be suitable, ie, the land adjacent to the prison, and in Ord opposite Fremantle Park.

Although not a fan of parking close to the city centre, the current car park to the west of the prison on Parry St could be zoned for multistory parking. But it seems much too good a location to waste in such a manner.

 That is me done for today. Hope it stimulates some feedback

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Victoria Quay and Fremantle’s CBD need to be managed as one

Evidence is increasing day by day that as a City, Fremantle cannot do strategic planning for the CBD without also doing likewise for the non port operational aspects of Victoria Quay.

This cropped up repeatedly during the Fremantle 2029 visioning workshops, obviously during the Vic Quay workshops, the alternative proposals for Pioneer Park area and the relocation of the Bus Port and again from Linley Lutton’s presentation to FICRA.

The proposed CoF Integrated Transport Strategy is another obvious example where Cof can’t do an adequate job of this without also developing the same strategic level for Victoria Quay.

While Victoria Quay non port ops is being driven by the Fremantle Port Authority, there will always be this conflict of interest. Unfortunately, the FPA is more powerful than CoF. Further it also isn’t constrained by the State and City planning regulations which gives it greater flexibility to do things the CBD cannot!

The current FPA Victoria Quay development proposals essentially replicate those within CoF Economic Development Strategy. It is highly dubious if there is the demand for both, and hence one, the other or both could fail!

It is ridiculous for the WA State Government to support this ongoing conflict. The FPA are supposedly experts at managing Port Operations. They should not be developing skills, employing staff, consultants and contractors to replicate those of a Local Authority.

As part of the Amalgamation of Local Authorities, the  Minsters ought to also investigate shifting the Non Ports Ops parts of FPA to LA, as the designated experts in the development and management of this type of land and property.

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What has become of the Hot Cross Bun?

The characteristic that distinguishes a Hot Cross Bun from a rather ordinary, bland Current Bun, has disappeared! Have supplies of that missing ingredient that makes it a Hot Cross Bun, completely dried up? I’m not talking about the cross, or the glazing, that is just for appearances sake.

It’s all about Candied Peel! It isn’t a Hot Cross Bun without it! This is the defining ingredient and it has gone missing!

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Are you wary at Roundabouts?

Do you pull up at the Give Way line at a roundabout, look right, see a car approaching the roundabout in the next entry, often too fast and hence Give Way to this approaching car? If so, you aren’t alone. Crazy isn’t it! Even though you got to the roundabout first, before the approaching car, like many, you Give Way even though all the rights belong to you, you have right of way! Why does this happen in WA but not over East, in the UK or Europe? Is it that WA drivers are stupid, scared, etc? I don’t think so.

WA roundabouts are badly designed!

Instead of having a slow entry and fast exit, like everywhere else, WA roundabouts are designed, essentially by MRWA, to do the opposite, ie, fast entry and slow exit!

Thinking about the standard roundabout, ie, an island and 4 entry/exits, in WA the fast smoothed out entry leads to slowest point for cars ‘going straight over’, isn’t their entry give way line but rather a point, just past the first exit, just before the next entry. So if you are waiting to enter at that second entry point, you are looking straight down the throat of a fast vehicle, all you see is the radiator grill and two headlights aiming straight at you driving at speed! Are you scared, bloody right you are! It may even have cut the corner to go even faster! This car has to slow as it passes you because the exit is significantly sharper than the entry.

The solution is easy!

Instead of a fast entry, design all 4 entry points as if they were conventional Give Ways at a simple intersection. That starts by having a clear line of sight obstacle, in this case entries face the island; drivers can clearly see if they don’t slow down they are going to crash into and over the island! The car in the next entry, sees an oblique view of the car approaching to their right, not the grill and headlights pointing straight at them, also sees them slowing, and as they are already at their entry, they just drive on, without the unnecessary need to Give Way.

WA doesn’t need the current ‘fad’ of having ‘snake like’ entries to roundabouts, which create other serious issues, like pinch points for cyclists, scooters and m/bikes!

Well designed roundabouts, together with well designed driver education, improve the flow of traffic from all directions, ie, instead of start/stop of traffic lights, there is a more even spread and flow, without unnecessary stops. They should not be places of intimidation as they are in WA!

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Freo Stakeholders – how important are each of them

Local Authority Stakeholders:

  • the Community, ie, the people who call Fremantle home;
  • Business Owners, ie, the people who want to make a living from the Fremantle community and their guests,
    • some of these merely own property, but it gives them, in a formal sense, similar rights as the Community, but Freo isn’t their home
    • some rent property, but also are part of the community, ie, Freo is their home
    • many are guests;
  • the Guests, ie, the people who come to Fremantle to work for the business owners, or enjoy what Freo has to offer, either from the Business Owners or the ambience, surroundings, City services and amenities
    • A distinguishing characteristic of Freo is the very large proportion of guests who visit, mainly our City precinct, for the City’s amenities.
  • the Developers,
    • the Community, largely wanting to upgrade their dwelling to keep up with their changing needs
      • some do this as small time professional developers, ie, making money, calling Freo home is a temporary convenience
  • professional developers, Freo is not their home, they come to Freo solely as business, money making ventures, their developments are usually far larger than just a single dwelling, due to their size they have equally large expectations and pockets.
  • the City Staff, employees of the Community, ie, providing the services, their admin and management
  • The Mayor and Council; elected by the Community, ie, they represent the community in dealings with the other stakeholders.

Have I got the balance right?

How should they each be treated, represented, engaged with, given status such as priority and importance?

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Climate Change – Alternative approaches for Australia

I am making the assumption that Australia’s aim is to quickly rid Australia of creating energy from fossil fuels.

Closely related to this were ridding Australia and the globe of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used as refrigerants and aerosol propellants.

We could have argued back then that Australia with its small population, and hence very small % of the global use of CFCs was almost insignificant, even though our usage/head was high due to our use of Air Con, etc. In other words the same argument being put up today against Australia taking action today about the broader Climate Change imperative ahead of larger nations. But that argument didn’t hold sway.

When CFC refrigerants and propellants were an issue, ‘Markets’ weren’t seen as the panacea, to bring about commercial change. However, if CFCs were the issue today would you be recommending a ‘Market’ for CFC credits? Do you think a market would have brought about a better outcome for reducing CFCs? Would it have done it faster, more cheaply, with less resistance, etc? My gut feeling is ‘No.

Did taxing CFCs work, would it have worked?

I suspect Taxes haven’t stopped anything? They tend to be a short term deterrent, having a permanent impact on a few. Their pricing implications then require protection for some sectors, eg, the low paid, which only have a sporadic, less than fair impact.

What did work, and worked incredibly quickly, despite all sorts of whinging and lobbying from industry, was rapid innovation. How – establish a deadline for the phasing out of CFCs use, in the two main areas of its use, refrigerants and aerosol propellants. It was that easy!!! During the period of R&D did prices of Refrigerants and Propellants rise to levels where low income earners needed tax rebates? Easy to implement, cheap to implement, fast to resolve, no impact on current prices.

Am I correct in saying it as simple as Ridding Australia from creating energy from fossil fuels? That includes the energy for transport? Is the objective with the use of fossil fuels very different from the use of CFCs? Their use is more widespread, but the sources of supply are small, eg, coal, gas and oil miners.

Markets exist to make money from buying and selling. If my objective is close to the mark, then over time if ‘the Market’ works, the need for carbon credits will fall, as more fossil fuel users switch to other energy sources. With falling demand for the Carbon Credits the market will collapse. In reality it is more likely it will plateau at a point well short of ridding the planet of fossil fuel usage, but at a sustainable level where buyers and sellers can continue in perpetuity to make a profit!

If the Politicians can’t provide an explanation to counter my points that Taxes haven’t worked, and Markets also don’t work where demand constantly falls each year, then how do we get them to review the problem and solution. How can we get them to look at the issue from the perspective of the problem, rather than the politics!

I suspect that both Taxes and Market driven approaches are just delaying the eventual solution, ie, a deadline to phase out fossil fuel use in each sector. So why not bite that bullet at the outset? Why have an interim period of mediocrity, where the big end of town just makes profits instead of rapid innovation. Particularly when speed is of the essence for the planet, and also for the innovators.

Am I wasting my time thinking about this?

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Knocked of my bike by thugs

I was assaulted on Sunday evening, very close to the location of last week’s death at South Beach. The police didn’t show up despite several witnesses dialling 000.

I was riding my bike along South Terrace towards Fremantle and had just past Sealanes at South Beach, when two aboriginal men stepped out onto the road, and one of them threw a bottle at me knocking me down like nine pins. They both thought this was a great laugh, getting a direct hit, and bringing me down in the middle of the road. I was lucky the car behind was far enough back to take evasive action, and cars coming in the other direction were also able to pull up. It is pure luck I didn’t end up under the wheels of a car, in what is a poorly lit area of town. Fortunately, my injuries aren’t serious, gravel grazes and bruising, torn shirt, a new one, but an awful feeling of melancholy and low self esteem. I was wearing a helmet.

Several passers-by came to my aid, which was fantastic, can’t say ‘thank you’ enough. The two assailants didn’t leave, in fact tried to inflame the witnesses, but everyone remained calm, with two calling 000. One of the men, gradually got more and more aggressive, winding himself up into a frenzy, and then started to threaten and eventually to attack and chase all of us waving another large bottle. After 20 minutes of this, we decided the Police weren’t coming and moved further up South Terrace. As we all dissipated an Ambulance arrived although not called, checked me over, and recommended I attend Freo Hospital for a check up, which I did. They also tried to find out what was happening to the police without luck, by this time I had been waiting with one very kind young man for 40 minutes or so. The Ambos recommended we leave the area, as Wilson Park was a known hang out for more people of the same kind. They said that Freo Police was running on a skeleton crew.

 I feel for the young lady in the car who witnessed all this, she must have been equally frightened, but I didn’t get the chance to talk to her.

At the personal level the Police treated me with courtesy, but they can’t have it both ways. Either they respond with urgency to attacks of violence, or they tell the community to get trained in self defence and how to arrest thugs. To coach the public into helplessness, is the worst of all outcomes. These thugs got away with their attack and violence, who continued to intimidate and threaten passers-by. I am left with a horrible feeling of cowardice and unresolved fear; also that I didn’t, with the help of others, give them the same beating their unprovoked act did to me.

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