from VicRoads and Bass Coast Shire Council visited Cowes about roundabouts in Thompson Avenue.
VicRoads was asked to organise this meeting by Minister Luke Donellan who had become aware of my recent letter in local papers, which asked if nothing else could be changed, could we please get rid of the words “give way to vehicles” painted on all footpaths, as they end at roundabouts.
The man from VicRoads was helpful on the phone and by email, advising from the outset that he wanted to organise a suitable person from BCSC to be present.
My letter had remarked that, over many years, anything about Thompson Avenue submitted to BCSC was dismissed with instruction that it’s under jurisdiction of Vicroads, with no offer of help.
Approaching VicRoads directly, about “give way to vehicles” they dismissed with instruction to take it up with BCSC.
So the VicRoads man was asked to ask the BCSC man how these words came to be on the footpaths, who started the process and when.
On the Island, with people who have paid attention to happenings in the street for 50 years or more, nobody can remember how the painted signs got started.
As usual, there are people who agree or disagree with removing these words. Inevitably, most people couldn’t care less.
The consultants who developed CACP (Cowes Activity Centre Plan) strongly recommended removal, for a town so dependent on visitors, so unfriendly towards pedestrians and it just makes us look stupid. But when you go through the channels, you find that you’re up against Law by Department of Transport.
Pedestrians must give way to vehicles at roundabouts in Victoria. The wonders of internet allow easy checking of other jurisdictions. Victoria is the only place in the known universe with this law that drivers of large, powerful, dangerous vehicles have right of way over soft target, vulnerable pedestrians.
There’s no equivalent law in any other state in Australia or easily checked countries like USA and UK. It’s basic common sense duty of care, in all other circumstances, that power must give way.
In practice, for those of us who walk Thompson Avenue every day, “give way to vehicles” is more trouble than its worth. A pedestrian approaching a roundabout may be able bodied, or mobility impaired, or a mum with a pusher and/or other child etc etc.
Even for able bodied, most drivers will stop, waving an arm to let a pedestrian pass, even when they’re half way around the roundabout. In congested traffic, if the pedestrian waves back, indicating the vehicle has right of way, this quickly leads to road rage, blowing of horns and more. Inevitably, some locals do occasionally walk and know about “give way to vehicles”, so you don’t step out in front of anything high speed which looks like a local.
It only takes a moment for a pedestrian to cross and there are so few of us. Except, of course, for dreaded school kids but only during special walk or cycle to school weeks, not at other times, because traffic is too dangerous. Do we have our priorities right?
Summary is that this road rule just causes uncertainty and anxiety and accidents, things never needed by locals or holiday makers.
Obviously the person from VicRoads needed to defend company policy/orthodoxy, as did the man from BCSC, though he did say he thought there was some equivalent rule in Queensland. This actually says that vehicles turning left or right only, at roundabouts, must give way to pedestrians who are crossing. There’s no mention of consequences if the driver is going straight ahead. The whole topic came to an end when the BCSC man introduced road block precedent that some misguided person in Foster now paints “give way to vehicles” on footpaths, as part of latest face lift to the town.
Experts always feel that they know best and always expect drivers to behave in an educated, predictable and safe manner.
Most of the time they do, which is why it’s a shock when they don’t. When I first started this campaign 15 years ago, my kids had only recently got driver licenses. Asking them if they knew pedestrians should give way at roundabouts, there was nothing about it in driver training.
Amongst adults, nobody knows. In download of Road Rules for Victoria, word search on “pedestrians roundabouts” finds two instances but no mention of give way. With persistence, you can find a special brochure on the topic. But nobody knows. Intuitively, it doesn’t make sense. So an education campaign would be a waste. So please can the Minster please get rid of “give way to vehicles”?
Bernie McComb, Phillip Island.
Who has right of way?