Mini roundabout option for Yamba Rd and Treelands Drive.
Mini roundabout option for Yamba Rd and Treelands Drive. Clarence Valley Council

Solution to crossing road safely

TRAFFIC lights at a contentious Yamba intersection would not provide any better pedestrian safety than a roundabout says a resident opposed to lights.

Wooloweyah resident Geoff Little took issue with comments from another resident, John Ibbotson, in a Daily Examiner article, that installing traffic lights at the intersection of Yamba Rd and Treelands Dr was the only way to safely allow pedestrians to cross.

Mr Little said his research revealed two studies which showed roundabouts were able to both control traffic flow and provide pedestrian safety.

"In respect of roundabout function and pedestrian crossing facilitation safety, two credentialed studies are worthy of review,” he said.

He listed two papers: Evaluation of an Alternative Pedestrian Treatment at a Roundabout [1. Monash University of Technology Associated Research Center (MUARC), 2.Lulea University of Technology Sweden (LTU); 3. City of Port Phillip Victoria] and a second, published in the journal ELSEVIER: Procedure of Social Behavioural Science, Vol 20, 2011, pages 69-78 Evaluating the Impact of Pedestrian Crossings on Roundabout Capacity.

"These credentialed papers demonstrate unequivocally that judicious roundabout design can both effectively regulate traffic flow and provide pedestrian crossing safety,” Mr Little said.

Mr Little said analysis of population figures in Yamba and Grafton provided context around the need for better traffic control at the intersection.

"It is wise to place a framework around the need for any additional traffic management, and to review not just the status quo but future need based on estimates for growth on at least a 20 year curve,” he said.

"Yamba population, based on the 2018 data was in the order of 6000 permanent residents with an estimate of 5 per cent annual growth [Daily Examiner]. Seasonal holiday numbers increase is estimated at between 200 per cent and 300 per cent.

"On that basis, for the year, say 2020, peak seasonal population will arguably be in the band of 12,000 to 18,000.

"Contextually, Grafton had an urban residential population according to the 2016 census of 10,4008, with a further 6,000 in South Grafton.”

He said this showed the major future issue with traffic flow in Yamba would arguably be road carriage capacity.

"For say, 2020 holiday periods, congestion could well be equivalent to todays' Grafton Clarence River bridge,” he said.

"As another example of poor planning, Yamba appeared destined to emulate is the bottleneck into Byron Bay at festival times.”

Mr Little said traffic lights only improved traffic flow for a small percentage of road users.

"The function of traffic lights is to regulate traffic flow, and they accomplish this with a timed traffic column disruption sequence on the X axis to facilitate flow from the Y axis,” he said. "This strategy works successfully for five per cent of daily traffic. For 15 per cent it can be argued it facilitates neither an improved nor more disrupted vehicle movement.

"The remaining 80 per cent of the time it is just plain disruptive by unnecessarily impeding vehicle travel. In conjunction with a zebra crossing, pedestrian crossing safety is clearly enhanced compared to no crossing.”

Mr Little said roundabouts worked differently allowing traffic flow to self regulate through both axes in both directions.

He argued, given that traffic light flows are approximate to the 5 per cent, 15 per cent and 80 per cent ratios, that in 95 per cent of circumstances, a roundabout would either improve or at least be equal to traffic lights in effective regulation.

"Whether or not in the 5 per cent balance it is significantly worse, worse, about the same or improved appeared to randomly unpredictable,” he said.

"Key factors will be closed column formation on Yamba Rd, shopping centre peak exit periods and future carpark exit strategies employed by the developers.”

"An examination of other roundabouts both in Yamba, Byron Bay and Grafton clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of 'non compliant' - smaller - roundabouts with traffic flow, rendering moot the economic issue of expensive acquisition of corner properties.”

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