Back to the drawing board on pedestrian crossings in Alice CBD


Council will not be proceeding with wombat crossings between the Post Office, Yeperenye and Coles – nor any new crossings at all – pending further consideration of past reports and a new traffic study in the CBD.
At left: Probably the CBD’s busiest crossing, on Hartley Street in front of the Yeperenye shopping centre.
The issue had been discussed at length by the previous council, with the wombat crossings (the kind of raised crossing that has been installed on Gregory Terrace, between Kmart and Coles) finally agreed to. At last night’s meeting the Technical Services department was seeking council’s permission to proceed.
Councillor Steve Brown said he had received  a lot of feedback from residents on the issue, all of it negative. The crossings would unnecessarily restrict traffic and far from improving safety, may increase the hazard for pedestrians. Cr Eli Melky agreed, with “possible road rage” among the negative consequences.
Cr Liz Martin, while happy to listen to both sides of the debate, pointed out that her mother had been hit by a car under the present conditions.
Cr Chansey Paech spoke in favour of the crossings, as a way of council being seen to promote a healthy lifestyle, encouraging visitors to the CBD to walk between trading centres (Todd Mall, Yeperenye, Coles). He said he had received positive comment on the proposed crossings from people with little kids.
At right: The wombat crossing on Gregory terrace, between Coles and Kmart. 
Cr Dave Douglas wanted council to go back to the drawing board and consider installing lights at the crossings.
A resident had spoken from the public gallery, suggesting speed humps rather than crossings, but Cr Jade Kudrenko didn’t think people would like speed humps throughout the CBD. She thought council might want to eventually look at a one-way loop for traffic through the CBD. Meanwhile, wombat crossings would be safer, she said.


  1. I have no idea what a wombat crossing is, but if it is the type of obstruction intended to slow vehicles down by placing concrete in their paths, it’s a bloody nuisance. And dangerous.
    I’m all for road safety including pedestrian crossings that are raised, however, anything that unduly obstructs traffic should be avoided as large vehicles, vehicles towing trailers, caravans etc find them very inconvenient and often damaging to their tyres or other vehicle/trailer parts. If you happen to turn up the wrong street towing your caravan … as I have done in Victoria recently, navigating these obstructions is a nightmare. We don’t need them in The Alice.

  2. On the issue of safety, under the present system of using a centre island pedestrians have to look in one direction, spot a gap in the coming traffic, walk half-way across the street, look the other way, spot another gap and complete the crossing.
    It works. With apologies to Cr Martin’s mum, it works. Traffic flows and pedestrians manage to safely cross either of two busy streets in our CBD countless times every single day.
    A wombat crossing will stop traffic. When next in town, have a look at the pedestrians waiting on either side of Hartley and Bath Street, or on the island in their middles. And then consider what will be the result if they know they can walk out with impunity and traffic from both directions will have to stop to accommodate them.
    The traffic on both streets, each linked to roundabouts at either end, will periodically be forced to stop, and sometimes for extended times. The potential for a traffic jam with the accompanying anger is simply too great a risk for Council to proceed with a wombat crossing. They will be putting pedestrians in danger, and they will be angering motorists.
    Or if they do proceed, they should be prepared to handle the blow-back.
    I agree that speed bumps are not a good idea, and I think the push-button on any lights will be abused. The current system works. Why try to fix it?

  3. I strongly agree with Hal (Posted October 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm): why change what’s working, and replace the Hartley and Bath St island systems with what seem to be a less safe alternative (the wombat between K-Mart & Coles)? Drivers and pedestrians each seem to often be confused by the wombat and the issue of who has right of way.
    Pedestrians and motorists have gotten used to the Bath & Hartley St crossings, and are able to make their own judgements about when it is safe to proceed, without assuming they have the right to barge on regardless.
    Traffic in the CBD is already too congested, partly because of the proliferation of concrete obstructions and over-design of ‘safety’ features that sometimes are ultimately less safe than what they replaced. Councillors should be commended for calling time out on all this.
    The main factor in ensuring the safety of the island system could be to enforce the 40 km/hour speed limit more stringently throughout the CBD.

  4. I am also mostly in agreement with Hal Duell (Posted October 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm) but with two exceptions.
    (1) The addition of a fenced island herding pedestrians crossing Bath Street to the two main thoroughfares (Coles Complex entry / exit point and the Yeperenye Centre exit / entry point).
    These two thoroughfares are not positioned opposite each other so the fenced island will need to take the form of a narrow rectangle with openings facing each complex, so for example when you leave the Yeperenye Centre you cross to the island, turn left, walk to the point where you face the Cole Complex thoroughfare and cross when safe to do so.
    This will also give a relatively safe haven for pedestrians to wait until safe to cross in either direction. If necessary the island may need to be widened to facilitate more waiting space and the safe passage of the crossing pedestrians.
    (2) Hartley Street is a little more problematic as you can go left or right when you exit the Yeperenye Complex. It would appear that most people go left to access the point where they can cross the road to access the pathway to Todd Mall or a point further north where you can cross to the post office. People going right or south can cross the road here, but two crossing points so close together is not an ideal situation. Again fencing and/or herding of pedestrians to one crossing point might be an option.

  5. Since I’m opposed to it, it’s good to read that the idea of a wombat crossing is not being supported. If there are others out there of a similar mind, may I suggest you contact one or more counsellors and express your views?
    Since being elected six months age, this new council has shown itself willing to listen. They are, or at least they seem to be, approachable. So if enough of us let them know how we feel about this, we could help bring about a better-than-a-wombat outcome.
    Of course there is the matter of them not answering the questions that they take on notice, but hopefully that, too, will soon change. Or at least so Mayor Ryan assured me at Monday’s meeting.


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