Western Distributor Road Network Feedback

This is my feedback for Transport NSW's "Western Distributor Road Network Improvements" proposal.

I was shocked by how bad the proposal is, I'd encourage you to give feedback too – it's open till 28 Oct. Here's the direct survey link, it's hard to find. I found Jed's discussion on twitter useful.

Fish Markets Pedestrian Crossing

Their proposal is to remove the zebra pedestrian crossing and double the car lanes

The removal of the zebra crossing at Fish Markets should not go ahead as:

  • It prioritises car flow over pedestrian flow
  • On a popular walking trail between inner west and the city
  • In a dense urban area
  • Pedestrians walking to/from Glebe will have to wait even longer at this intersection than before.
  • This goes against your own place guidelines that in dense urban areas pedestrian service should be prioritised
  • There is no need to make that intersection have two lanes of traffic going into Pyrmont. We don't need to incentivise more cars driving into Pyrmont, already one of the most walkable neighbourhoods in the city. There's nowhere for the lanes to go; it's about 100m till the next traffic light. One lane is, and would be, sufficient.
  • I'm particularly upset that the promotional materials claim it will reduce wait times for walkers and cyclists at this intersection. This is a lie: they didn't have to wait for right of way before, and now they will have to wait for a signalised intersection. Their wait times can only go up from this change. The exhibitor explained the signalised crossing would ensure pedestrians have right of way; but we already have right of way with a zebra crossing! If you're concerned about sightlines and car speeds, fix that with traffic calming and foliage pruning, rather than making pedestrians wait even longer.
  • There are about to be a whole lot more people walking across this intersection with the fish market residential redevelopment. This proposal disincentivises them from walking, which will lead to more traffic.
  • WalkSydney had a great blogpost about how hard it is to walk from the inner west to the city. We should be making it better, not harder, in line with Transport NSW's strategy of prioritising active transport over heavier modes.

Harris St / Allen St

Their proposal is to remove a pedestrian crossing phase, between apartments and local shopping strip + bus stop.

The removal of the pedestrian light phase at Harris St and Allen St should not go ahead as:

  • It prioritises car flow in a very dense, walkable neighbourhood, between apartments and a local shopping strip.
  • There's a bus stop there, with high patronage, followed by people immediately crossing the road.
  • The crossing has extremely high usage; I eat at the restaurants there often, and every phase, there's someone crossing.
  • Pedestrians would have to wait up to 3 phases to cross on the phase you'd like to remove.
  • Pedestrians would have to wait on average half a phase longer to cross diagonally, as instead of having the choice (up, right) or (right, up), and being able to start their crossing on any phase, only one path is now allowed.


Transport NSW's order of road user space considerations: walkers above private vehicles

All in all, this is a very bad plan that feels like it came from the old RMS back when they only cared about cars and roads, and any other transport user could get stuffed. This proposal doesn't represent the needs of all transport users, particularly walkers, and is totally out of step with the needs of a dense inner urban area.

Go back to the drawing board and take into account Transport NSW's active transport strategy.

Mark Hansen

Mark Hansen

I'm a Software Engineering Manager working on Google Maps in Sydney, Australia. I write about software {engineering, management, profiling}, data visualisation, and transport.
Sydney, Australia