Tackling traffic troubles a tricky task

2016-11-24 06:02
Here City workers are seen putting the final touches on a raised intersection in Heideveld to help curb speedsters.  PHOTO: EARL HAUPT

Here City workers are seen putting the final touches on a raised intersection in Heideveld to help curb speedsters. PHOTO: EARL HAUPT

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Residents across Cape Town make continuous pleas for traffic circles, speed humps, stop streets and traffic lights from the City of Cape Town, however, it has come to light that implementing these demands is just as difficult a task.

With a backlog of 500 requests, the City of Cape Town’s transport department has implemented a new policy aimed at addressing the backlog, funding constraints notwithstanding.

In Municipal Matters, City Vision speaks to Brett Heron , Mayco member for transport.

Herron says driver indiscipline has led to calls from residents for the implementation of Traffic Calming Measures.

What is Traffic Calming?

Traffic calming is the practice of placing physical measures, like speed humps, raised pedestrian crossings, raised intersections and mini traffic circles in a road to control the speed at which motorists travel.

“A change in the vertical or horizontal path of the vehicle regulates the maximum speed at which the vehicle can travel over the calming measure and hence along a length of road on which the calming measure is employed.”

He explains that road markings and road narrowing are sometimes used as a soft form of traffic calming, in that they do not compel a driver to slow down, but attempt rather to subconsciously influence the driver’s behaviour.

Transport for Cape Town (TCT), the City’s transport authority, on average receives about 500 requests for traffic calming each year.

This demand, Herron says, stems from a general deterioration of driver discipline and those who purposefully contravene the rules of the road through speeding, not stopping at stop signs, or not giving pedestrians right of way at pedestrian crossings.

New policy

In January, Council approved a new revised Traffic Calming Policy with a key shift in focus to implement traffic calming measures at schools and other public facilities where a high concentration of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, children and the elderly, are typically encountered.

The purpose of the revised policy is to establish a sustainable and responsive regime for the provision of traffic calming measures across the city.

The new policy also addresses the current backlog of 500 traffic calming projects to the value of R30 million.

Herron says these measures may be implemented along the roads adjacent to and leading to schools and public facilities such as clinics, libraries, public halls, sport fields, swimming pools, parks, beaches, children’s homes, retirement homes, places of worship, tertiary education institutions, railway stations and pedestrian crossings over railway lines.

Under the new policy various conditions have been enforced since January.

This includes:

. TCT will now focus its resources on systematically addressing traffic calming measures at schools across the city and implementing the approximately 500 already approved measures that have not yet been implemented due to funding constraints;

. Private funding of traffic calming measures may be allowed at public facilities with a high number of vulnerable road users;

. For all other requests residents must engage with their local ward councillors and subcouncils, especially for roads with a proven history of crashes, or a recent and very serious incident that demands immediate intervention.

Herron says each ward is allocated R700 000 per year for community projects – to be allocated by subcouncils and councillors, in consultation with their ward committees.

“Subcouncils may elect to budget for the assessment and implementation of traffic calming measures, subject to the conditions in the revised policy.”

Herron says TCT aims to implement traffic calming measures at 50 schools each financial year.

He adds it can easily take up to a year from start to finish to implement a traffic calming measure.

“It is therefore not a quick fix for ill-disciplined drivers.”

In the financial year from June 2016 to 2017, TCT plans to implement traffic calming measures at 65 schools and 84 backlog sites.

Prohibitions

Another aspect of implementing traffic calming measures are the different types of roads and how they are classified. Herron says traffic calming measures are prohibited on three types of roads: Class 1 (highways), Class 2 (major arterial) and Class 3 (minor arterial).

Herron says if a request is for traffic calming along a road with a proven history of road accidents, residents will have to engage with their local ward councillors and subcouncils.

Private funding

The new policy also makes provision for private parties to fund traffic calming measures at public facilities themselves. For this type of request, individuals are required to email transport.info@capetown.gov.za.

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