Will action ever be taken to protect school kids getting on and off the bus on Lismore Road, Bangalow as trucks fly by at 80km/h?
The answer at last week’s Byron Council meeting was a resounding ‘Maybe’ .
Bangalow resident and mum, Clare Hopkins, presented a 200-hundred signature petition to councillors demanding a reduction in the speed limit at the intersection of Lismore and Rifle Range roads.
Ms Hopkins told the meeting it was now 15 years since local parents and community members began campaigning for measures to protect the safety of children at the hazardous spot.
‘There’ no bus shelter on either side, no traffic refuge, and no footpath on either side,’ she said.
‘I ask Council to note that we want an immediate speed reduction.
‘I don’t want to be standing here in a few months sharing the sad news that a child or children have been hurt or killed.’
Adding weight to Ms Hopkins argument was a series of pictures showing groups of school children walking on the road owing to the absence of any other option.
But the meeting heard that there was a sizeable hurdle to Council taking action on the issue: Lismore Road is a state government responsibility.
This means that Council must get approval from Transport for NSW before filling a single pothole, let alone reducing the speed limit or installing warning lights.
As the matter proceeded to debate during the meeting, it emerged that Council staff and the state government were both investigating solutions, neither of which appeared to be baring fruit.
Council’s General Manager Mark Arnold told the meeting that Council had a ‘funded project’ to address safety issues at the spot.
‘There is a design in the works,’ Mr Arnold said.
‘[But] we’ve struggled to ensure that we comply with requirements [of Transport NSW].
‘We’ve had constraints thrown at us about what we can do on their road… However, I want to say that it is a project that is further down the track than just an aspiration.’
Meanwhile, the meeting heard that Transport for NSW had recently undertaken a speed review at the spot to assess the validity of reducing the speed limit.
The results of this review were to be released in March; however, any decision that stemmed from it would apparently not involve Council.
‘Council’s Local Traffic Committee used to have a role in the speed review process, but that’s been taken away,’ Independent councillor Basil Cameron said.
‘We’re there to represent the community… But with the speed review being taken away, we don’t have that role any more.’
Mayor Simon Richardson said that a far simpler solution was to move the bus stop off Lismore Road to Rifle Range Rd.
However, the meeting heard that some of those who lived on the road were opposed to the addition of buses there because of the noise and traffic impacts.
‘I’d be staggered if there was outrage about buses going down there,’ Cr Richardson said.
‘Buses go on roads where people are…. A few in the morning and a few in the afternoon. Some people may not want that… but it’s now a developed up residential area.’
In the end the Council voted to advocate for the Local Traffic Committee to have a greater role in the speed review process, and for staff to ‘look into any temporary measures that can be implemented to improve safety whilst consultation and planning matters are addressed’.
Expect to see school children walking on Lismore Road for some time to come.