Archive for the ‘Parking’ Category

The Beauty Point LATM

May 18, 2014

800px-Fietsstrook_Herenweg_OudorpMosman Council and the community tried hard to stop the am rat run through Beauty Point, but they failed. The RMS, which has ultimate power has vetoed the idea.

In what seems to me like a knee jerk reaction to this knock back, Council is now proposing to solve the problem another way – by turning he route into an obstacle race of stop signs, chicanes, speed bumps and other traffic calming measures.

The problem with this ‘solution’ is that for 22 of the 24 hours of weekdays and all day on Saturday and Sunday there is no need for any calming measures as the rat run is closed.

Furthermore, for 22of the 24 hours of weekdays and all day on Saturday and Sunday local residents will be adversely affected:

  • by the loss of parking spaces
  • by the noise associated with vehicles negotiating the obstacles
  • by the inconvenience of negotiating the obstacles themselves
  • by the extreme visual pollution associated with signage

The obstacle course would also increase the travel time, vehicle wear and tear and driver stress of the Mosman Rider

There are many other options for solving the problem of speeding traffic during the rat run hours and/or discouraging traffic from using the rat run that would not make any imposition on local residents and at much less cost to the public purse such as:

  • strict enforcement of existing speed limits and Stop signs
  • a boom gate at the one way stretch in Bay St. This would also control vehicles illegally using the route in the reverse direction 24 hours a day and allow variable length delays to be imposed on traffic during rat run hours. Emergency vehicles could be fitted with a wireless actuator
  • A concerted collaboration by Beauty Point residents to drive through the area at no more than 30 km/h and stopping for a significant time at all stop signs during rat run hours thus slowing down following traffic.
  • Line markings to turn turn the wide sections of Pearl Bay Avenue and Bay St into a single traffic lane to be shared by traffic in both directions. The remainder of the road to be painted green to indicate that the space between kerb and shoulder is intended for cyclists(although according to the road rules vehicles could intrude into it for parking and passing). See attached photo of this type of marking which is used extensively in the Netherlands
  • A roundabout at Cowles//Awaba to give greater priority to traffic turning in and out of Awaba St over traffic coming up Cowles Rd

Council should not give up on having the rat run closed. The LATM is NOT a second best alternative to having the rat run closed. It won’t stop cars using the rat run but it will be a great imposition on residents.

At the very least Council should put on hold implementing the proposed LATM until the issue of ‘what to do now that the RMS has refused to close the rat run’ has been much more widely discussed in the Beauty Point community. This would much better align with Council’s community engagement policy.

The Mosman Rider is under threat!

April 5, 2013

Picture1At the last Council meeting of 2012, Councillor Bendall was successful in getting the numbers for a resolution instigating a thoroughgoing review of the Council’s free bus service, the Mosman Rider. The Mosman Rider was an initiative of the previous Council and Mayor Abelson and Cr Bendall have made many public statements questioning the value of the service, so this motion comes as no surprise. Supporters of the service see it as the beginning of the end. Cost benefit analyses are a convenient way of justifying ideologically driven decisions. Any desired result can be achieved, depending on how the dollar figure for benefits is calculated. The fundamental problem is that while the costs are very clear and carried by Council, the benefits are distributed across multiple stakeholders over a long period of time and are very difficult to measure.

It is of course absolutely reasonable for the new Council to review whether the Mosman Rider is achieving its objectives in the most cost effective manner. It is also reasonable to ask whether the objectives themselves are worthy, have the support of the community and represent a better option than lower rates or spending on something else.

As one of the councillors who invested a lot of time and passion in getting the service established I am clearly going to be just as biased in favour of the Mosman Rider as Cr’s Abelson and Bendall are against it. This is the response that I would give to in response to Cr Bendall’s request for a review of the service. [The actual report prepared by Council staff is on the agenda for the April meeting. Council staff have done an excellent job comprehensively addressing each of the points in Councillor Bendall’s resolution with extensive data to back up their claims].

What are the objectives of the service

The primary objective has always been to provide a basic minimum level of mobility for Mosman residents who for whatever reason are mobility impaired. Specifically to provide a means of getting from home to the shops, to transport nodes and to foreshore recreation areas for those without a driving licence who and live in parts of Mosman not well served by public transport.

A secondary objective has been to encourage all Mosman residents to use public transport for local trips, since every car left in the garage means less pressure on parking, less congestion, less air pollution, less accidents and less greenhouse gas emissions.

At the time the service was introduced, there was a third objective – that of keeping access to the beach free. In the same way that the London congestion tax was used to subsidise public transport, revenue from parking meters paid for the Mosman Rider. Non-residents could park for free anywhere along the route and thus access the beach for nothing,

Are these legitimate aims

They are aims being very strongly promoted at all levels of government, in Australia and across the world. It is not hard to see why. Very few of us are getting the required 30 minutes of exercise we need a day to stay healthy. All the research shows that incidental exercise, the sort that we get when we use public transport rather than door to door transport in our own car, is the best way of sustaining the required level of physical activity and if the population is healthy the public purse outlays on health are much reduced. The Heart Foundation has published much on the topic. The NSW government through the Premiers Council on Active Living is urging local government to provide incentives and remove barriers to active travel. At the federal level the Department of Infrastructure has just released a discussion paper: ‘Walking, Riding and Access to Public Transport’ and the American Public Health Association is continuously building on the already overwhelming evidence that providing people with an alternative to driving pays
for itself many times over in reduced health care costs, reduced congestion and reduced need for parking infrastructure.

Other areas of government stress the economic value of providing services that allow people to remain independent and living in their own homes as they age. Others again stress the importance of reducing social isolation and ensuring that the elderly can get to medical appointments. Having the independence to meet up with friends where and when you want is highly valued by youth.

I would assume that the current Council agrees with these objectives, but are less convinced about how effectively the current service is achieving them. So let’s look at that.

To what extent is the service achieving its stated objectives

You only need to go for a ride on the Mosman Rider to observe that a lot of elderly people who one suspects are beyond driving use the service. Surveying this demographic of the clientele would show the extent to which having the service was a factor in keeping them independent,

It is also clear that a lot of young people use the service to meet up with each other or go to the beach. Many families with young children use the service to go to the shops, beach or Zoo. Children love it.

There are many regulars: travelling on the bus is quite a social experience, aided by the very friendly drivers. It is not just young people who use the bus for meeting friends for a coffee

So can it be said that each person who uses the bus represents mobility being provided to someone who would otherwise be mobility deprived or a trip that would otherwise be made by car? Certainly some of the passengers do and thus they provide evidence that the service is achieving its objectives. Some do not. For example they may use the bus when otherwise they would have walked or used the services provided by Sydney Buses.

So the question we must now explore is can the benefit of the service be expanded by attracting more passengers who, had it not been for the service, would have used their car or not made the trip at all.

How big is the pool of potential passengers?

The current route of the Mosman Rider was designed so that a large proportion of the population of Mosman is less than a ten minute walk away from the route. What limits its use is that either people don’t know about it, or the service frequency is too low (once per hour) or the journey time is too long (one hour for a complete circuit of Mosman). It is these two latter factors that make the service uncompetitive with driving yourself, even taking into account the hassle of finding a parking spot. Another factor maybe the presumed unreliability – we all know the bus gets delayed in traffic so often it is running well behind its timetable, and who wants to wait at the stop with a suspicion that the bus has already passed through? In fact reliability is not a problem for those in the know, as the mobile phone bus locator system largely overcomes that problem.

Clearly a higher frequency service with a shorter journey time would increase the pool of potential passengers, but it would also cost a lot more to run. Two buses would be needed to provide a half hour service on two different half hour loops.

I believe there is still considerable scope for increasing passenger numbers with the existing service. Mosman has a growing number of both children and retired people. Both groups are under less time pressure than their working counterparts and once you rule out time as an issue there is a lot of attraction in being chauffeured, enjoying the social experience, being dropped at the door, being able to drink and not having to find a parking spot. The Mosman Rider and Sydney Buses services taken in conjunction actually allow you to get from anywhere to anywhere in Mosman and back again with not too much waiting time, particularly, if the mobile phone location services are used and you start your trip only when the bus is due.

Passenger numbers have risen steadily since the service was first introduced. People typically learn about the service from friends. Once they have experienced how convenient it is, it enters their mindset and they become repeat customers. Even without any further promotion passenger numbers and hence the community benefit will grow over time as the message spreads by word of mouth. The benefit to cost ratio will consequently grow. By promoting the service the benefits would grow even faster. A short video of current clients saying how they use the service and why they like it along with details of the route and timing, screened at the Hayden Orpheum would reach the right demographic. It could be also be screened at Council and at Bridgepoint and in local schools.

Other ways to promote the service would be to letterbox drop houses adjacent to the route with timing information for their locality – when the bus passes through their area and how long it takes to get to each key destination. New residents should be taken on a guided tour of Mosman on the Rider once they have been on it and seen how it works it won’t be such a leap of faith to use it for a real trip.

Another potential benefit of the service would be to map out ‘a day in Mosman’ for international tourists staying in the city. It would involve a ferry ride to Taronga Zoo (with or without a Zoo visit), the 238 to Balmoral Beach for lunch, the Mosman Rider for a tour around Balmoral Heights and Beauty Point, a visit to the Art Gallery followed by a stroll down the shopping strip, then a 230 to Mosman Wharf and home on the ferry. Many other itineraries could be invented. The Mosman Rider passes no less than 20 places to have a coffee.

Could the cost of the service be reduced without compromising its quality?

The benefit to cost ratio can be increased by either increasing benefits or lowering costs. In this section I examine various options for reducing the cost while maintaining the same level of service ie an hourly service from most parts of Mosman to the Mosman shopping strip and a half hourly service from the shopping strip to the beach.

Let’s start with the route. The route was painstakingly worked out to meet the following criteria. It needed to be within easy reach of the majority of the Mosman population, it needed to pass close to all of Mosman’s key destinations, it should complement and add value to Sydney Buses services, it should be impacted minimally by congestion, it needed to pass the same spot at the same time each hour, it needed to get people quickly to the beach and shops, but if they stayed on the bus, deliver them to any of Mosman’s key destinations. The route chosen needed to be negotiable by the bus and have plenty of safe places to pick up and drop off passengers.

The route finally arrived at was a figure of eight loop crossing over at Balmoral. By using loops rather than a star pattern duplication of Sydney Buses services is minimised.

An argument has been made that the original mobility objectives could be achieved by expanding community transport – for example providing for the eligible elderly a fixed number of taxi vouchers. Or more ambitiously replacing the Mosman Rider with a computer based bus despatching system that would respond to calls from potential passengers, optimising its route to pick up each passenger and deliver them to their destination. Leaving aside the loss of independence (having to ask for help rather than simply using a service) and the unpredictability of your arrival time with such a service, the major disadvantage is that such services are not scalable, costs rise in proportion to passengers. For the Mosman Rider, benefits increase with passenger numbers, while costs are held constant. There is thus no financial impediment to promoting the service, and consequently reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing demand on parking, reducing congestion

The Mosman Rider, now that it is established and growing in popularity has so much potential. It could become very Mosman to do the social and environmental right thing and get around Mosman by a combination of walking cycling, Mosman Rider and Sydney Buses – excepting of course when the weather was bad, or you had lots to carry, or you were short of time. The State government in its Transport Master Plan has argued that Sydney bus services should be restricted to trunk routes with feeder buses providing for micro mobility. Mosman and Manly will be well placed to negotiate a deal with the State government when this happens, having developed experience in running their own services

Another way of reducing the costs would be to charge for the service. This would add to operational costs and also be a disincentive. It would also be unfair as the chief beneficiaries are not the passengers but the community. They benefit from having one less car on the road. In the long term, when the service is fully established with two buses providing a 30 minute service it would be appropriate to charge a fare, provided that at that time the OPAL card is in use across all transport in Sydney, including the Mosman Rider. In the short term sponsorship, or on bus advertising could be considered.

Wouldn’t it be better to scrap the service and lower rates?

This is a matter for political judgement by the councillors. Every Council service could be scrapped and the rates dropped ever lower. The Mosman Rider first, then perhaps the Library, then the sporting venues. Where do you draw the line? I think that the Mosman community is quite comfortable with the mix of services they get in return for their rates, and are generous enough to accept that they are paying for some services that they personally don’t use but are vital for others.. As the population ages, more people live here and fuel prices increase support for the Mosman Rider will grow ever more stronger. Scrapping or even significantly changing the service now would be to squander a four year build-up of passenger good will and three years of fine tuning to optimise the service. It would put a lot of cars back on the road and make a lot of people seriously question whether they could continue independent living. It would make a lot of children who get so excited about riding the ‘Whale Bus’, very sad. It would make me sad too, seeing a great initiative by one Council destroyed by the next. But I guess that is how politics is played these days.
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24 hour clearways are not the solution

November 18, 2012

For the Northern Beaches transport corridor, the highest priority should be protecting buses from congestion delays. If we all knew that, if congestion occurred, buses would be given priority over cars, buses would begin to look a much more attractive proposition. Not because on average the journey time was competitive with using a car, but because buses had the shortest worse case journey time.

Giving buses priority wouldn’t just remove the uncertainty from journey time and thus allow us individually to operate on a tighter schedule, it would be very good for our health. By encouraging public transport use more of us would get the recommended 30 minutes a day of walking.

So how could buses be given priority?

There are in fact several distinct time periods, each of which needs a different solution.

In the weekday am and pm peak periods 5 traffic lanes are in operation (3 in the peak direction and 2 in the other). The kerbside lane is a bus or T3 lane. My proposal is to introduce electronic lane reallocation for the entire length of the corridor from Spit Bridge to the Freeway. This would involve overhead gantries as on the Sydney Harbour Bridge indicating which lanes were currently available for each type and direction of traffic. Some embedded lights on the road may also be needed. At pinch points, (but only at pinch points) some parking on the non-peak flow side would need to go in order to accommodate the pop-up bus lanes without further compromising general traffic capacity

The lanes would be dynamically changed to give priority to buses in the event of an incident or just unexpectedly heavy traffic.

This could be implemented in stages over many years, starting with hotspots. The Ourimbah Road Spit Road intersection has already been done. (more…)

Pedestrian crossing Ping Pong

September 17, 2012

The smart phone is just the beginning. Imagine a future when the intelligence that is built into your mobile get dispersed to the point that is embedded in all the everyday objects we interact with. Take for example the pedestrian crossing. This example from Germany not only shows you how much green or red time you have left, but while you are waiting it allows you to play a game of ‘skateboard ping pong’ with a stranger waiting to cross on the other side of the road. The benefits? You are less likely to risk crossing against the lights and you make a connection with a total stranger. Watch the video here.

I don’t think we will see crossings like this anytime soon in Mosman but the example does alert us to the enormous potential that embedded ‘smarts’ have tackle safety. manage parking. address congestion and facilitate law enforcement by nudging us to do the right. An encouraging sign is the recognition given in the draft NSW Transport Plan of the value of variable time of day road user charges as a way of tackling congestion and the use by some councils of parking detectors so that drivers can be directed to where a spot is available (as well as alerting rangers to overstayers.) The next generation of parking meters will almsot certainly be mobile phone activated and smart enough to allow a daily allowance of free parking to be split over multiple periods of the day. Maybe the day will come when simple road markings will indicate that parking restrictions apply, with the details coming up, once we request it, on a screen in our car. No more ugly parking signs! As a public tranport user my favourite here-and-now example of embedded smarts is the STA real time bus arrival time prediction service. Just SMS the bus stop number to 0488 898 287 and you will get texted back a the route numbers and wait times for buses expected to arrive at the stop over the next 30 minutes. A similar service is available for the Mosman Rider. Just send any message to 0459 667 616 and you will be texted back its current location.

The People’s Junction

February 17, 2012

Clifton Gardens, Balmoral, Beauty Point – these are all highly desirable addresses, but Spit Junction just doesn’t cut it, does it?. It is not just the name, it is the very ordinariness of the place. And yet as a location it has so much going for it…. [Photo: NSW State Records]

It is the highest point in Mosman and the point where the two principal ridges of Mosman intersect. It is a natural meeting of the ways and the community heart of Mosman with the Art Gallery, Library, the Swimming Pool, Council offices and Bridgepoint shopping centre all clustered around public space that extends from Myahgah Mews to Alan border Oval. Spit Junction also bookends one of the best preserved and most successful high end strip shopping streets in Sydney, running for over a km to Centenary Circle

It is also a key transport node with express buses to the city and the northern beaches and local buses to most parts of Mosman as well as Chatswood, St Leonards and Milson’s Point. It is also the starting point of the high frequency Metro bus service through the city to Sydenham.

It is good the Council has recognised that redevelopment of its own land holdings represents an opportunity to transform this iconic site into something really special, particularly if the development was done collaboratively with other property owners in the vicinity. Perhaps not quite on the same scale, but something akin to how Willoughby Council has transformed what 40 years ago was a very shabby Victoria Rd into the award winning development of the station precinct and Concourse that Chatswood is today. (more…)

Sign Clutter

September 26, 2011

The UK approach - line marking is enough

Why do we need to have so many signs in our streets telling us what we can and can’t do. They are ugly to look at, add to visual clutter and very expensive for councils to erect and maintain. It is not as though it is an inevitable consequence of our legal system, as other countries, with similar legal systems. have much less obtrusive signage. How lucky for Europe that text signs there are impractical due to the multitude of languages. Symbolic signs can be tiny. As soon as you spell things out in words, as is done in the US and Australia, big signs are needed and they need their own poles. In my dreams I imagine a time when all regulatory signage is removed – in its place some form of indication – using colour or texture – that the adjacent space has regulations governing its use. It would be up to anyone using that space to find out for themselves what the regulations were. These days with GPS enabled smart phones it would not be hard to find out. As a transition, yellow lines, broken single and double could be used to indicate that parking restrictions applied in a particular zone and small embedded in the kerb, or streetlamp poles could spell out the detail of the restriction. (more…)

It can happen!

November 3, 2010

One of the satisfactions I get from travel, is going to distant lands and finding actually in place and working well something that I would like to see in Mosman. This is especially the case when I have contemplating fighting for some of these things on Council but have been told by all and sundry that it could never work and even if it could there would be insurmountable political barriers.

I have collected a set of captioned photos to illustrate.

Churches that are leading the way in renewable energy; street lights that are extinguished between 1 and 5 am; a locality with no garages or on-street parking; traffic undergrounded to create a magnificent boulevard for bikes and pedestrians (now there is an idea for Spit Junction); bus shelters that don’t impede bicycles sharing the verge with pedestrians; big-box shopping centres seamlessly integrated into heritage towns (food for thought here when considering how Spit Junction might be developed); Naked streets where heavy trucks and small children “negotiate” shared space; senior citizens preferring to go shopping on a bike (with walking stick attached): young mums preferring to use the bike to take themselves and two toddlers to the shops; cycling infrastructure so good that kids can ride to school; new footpaths that are wider than the old to make life easier for pedestrians, despite the increased cost; electronic bollards to restrict access while allowing buses and resident through; demand management being used to control congestion; what happens when hedge heights are unregulated; bikes on buses; stealing traffic lanes to make cycleways; volunteer drivers for community buses; reclaiming the streets for people; alternative ways of achieving medium density; elegant bridges.

Balmoral Comparisons

September 23, 2010

There are of course many places in the world that like Balmoral are siutated on the edge of “protected” water. My recent trip took me to two of them that are directly comparable – Kitislano a close in suburb of Vancouver with a population of 40,000 and Friedrichshafen a town of 40,000 on the shores of Lake Constance in Southern Germany. I was interested to see what each made of its natural assets and how issues such as parking, the trade-off between commercial development and protecting the natural environment had been made as well as the planning choices that had been made with respect to residential density.

What is clearly very special about Balmoral is the wonderful quality and extent of its sand and the fact that despite the development there is still nearby access to natural bushland. It is also unique in that there is a high proportion of single family dwellings. On top of all that, our climate also means that the beach can be used all year round. we are very fortunate!

I have attached some photos from the other places. What Balmoral shares with them both is a beach front promenade, a rotunda, outdoor dining, public art and parking meters. Both Kitsilano and Friedrichshafen have more space between the promenade and the road and in the case of Friedrichshafen the city authorities have made the promenade experience particularly attractive with flowers trees and public art. Both places appear much more relaxed (they have more space) in allowing outdoor dining in few places on the promenade itself – but note the lack of advertising on the umbrellas in the picture above. In Friedrichshafen the beach is adjacent the town centre so the huge underground carpark serves the beach as well, but the fact that most housing is medium density and the area is flat, most people walk or cycle to the beach.

Making Mosman Cycle Friendly – 1

September 16, 2010

Up until now, what little attention has been given to the needs of cyclists in Mosman has focussed on commuters. But if we are ever to get to the point where most people, whatever their age, fitness and experience are to feel confident about using the bike for local trips, then we need to turn our attention to providing routes that are safe and “feel” safe. On my recent trip I spent a lot of time in cities that have recognised the enormous health and environmental benefits of cycling and have been successful in pushing up the percentage of local trips made by cycle to respectable levels. Each city is of course unique in terms of its topography, history, culture and built environment, but an approach taken across the board to encourage cycling has been to engineer and environment where there is a network of quiet streets, permeable to bikes but not to cars. Complementing this network, of course, are special provisions for cyclists on the unavoidable busy streets which inevitably need to negotiated in getting from A to B.

In this post I want to report on what I learned about how in other places these networks of quiet streets have been established. In most places I visited, and it also applies to Mosman, the desire by residents to eliminate through traffic from their streets had provided an excellent foundation. The standard methods used to eliminate, discourage, or at the very least, slow down traffic in residential streets such as road closures, one way sections, chicanes, speed bumps and road narrowing also serve to provide streets that are both stress free for cyclists and attractive for pedestrians.
From a cyclists perspective, the best ride of all is along a flat smooth surface of a street that is a dead end for cars but permeable by bike. The total absence of through motor traffic is what makes the street so attractive. Second best is a street where if there is through traffic, it is one way (but contra flow cycling is permitted. If two way motor traffic is unavoidable then the layout of the street should signal to drivers that they need to negotiate their way through rather than that they have priority. I saw many interesting examples of how this can be achieved. The entrances and exits to the streets are narrowed using kerb build-outs often combined with roundabouts. In Vancouver very attractive gardens are established on the kerb build-outs and roundabouts, each one in the care of a named resident. In Konstanz where the streets are in any case narrow, parking on alternate sides of the road introduces a natural chicane. In Berlin, where the streets are as wide as Mosman streets the trafficable proportion has been reduced by changing he parking on one side of the street to 90 degree angle parking. (more…)

Christie Report has made me Change my Mind

February 18, 2010

With the publication of the preliminary report of the Sydney Transport Public Inquiry we have made light years of progress in just one week. For the first time we have a carefully tested plan, developed by experts with input from the entire community which maps out what needs to be done and in what sequence to put Sydney back on track as a truly liveable city. It is a breakthrough, first off all because it is an independent assessment and this entirely free of spin, secondly because it takes a whole of system perspective rather than handing out political favours to any one region and finally because it gets beyond the problem of the four year political cycle by realistically acknowledging that it is going to take 30 years of commitment to get it right.

It will become the benchmark against which plans and deeds of successive governments are evaluated.

I was particularly pleased to see it recommending a single independent authority to manage (but not necessarily operate) all public transport in Sydney. Transport for London (TfL) has worked well in London and it would work here. Integrated ticketing is a no-brainer, but what I thought was well argued was the need to redesign routes, frequencies, spans and journey times to support multi-part journeys which may include any or all of walking, cycling, taxi, different buses and different trains. For this to work frequencies on trunk routes would need to be at least 15 minutes so even without a timetable the average wait time would be 7.5 minutes. (more…)