Furniture lacks the vision thing

Sydney Morning Herald -

Wednesday, 24 November 1999

Stepping dangerously ... the new street furniture may be putting pedestrians in peril. Photograph by NICK MOIR

Furniture lacks the vision thing


The city’s new designer street furniture is under attack yet again — this time for endangering lives by blocking the vision of pedestrians.

The Pedestrian Council of Australia has called for a full safety audit of all signs and stands installed throughout the CBD for the City of Sydney by JCDecaux Australia, the consortium responsible for the street furniture.

As part of a city facelift, hundreds of items, including automatic public toilets, bus shelters, newsstands, kiosks, flower stalls and telephone booths, have been rolled out across the city.

In a letter to Sydney’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Lucy Turnbull, the chairman of the
Pedestrian Council, Mr Harold Scruby, asked for all new advertising signs and stands to be moved immediately from areas near pedestrian crossings and the edge of the footpath.

New bus shelters installed along York Street, near Wynyard Park and a newsstand in George Street, Chinatown, were downright dangerous, said Mr Scruby.

He said there were many examples across the city of new street furniture placed in areas of high pedestrian activity, taking up footpath space and obstructing the vision of pedestrians and motorists.

Advertising signs along the bus-zones in York Street were too close to the kerb and a danger to pedestrians because they obstructed the vision of motorists.

“The street furniture is frequently positioned at the side and in front of pedestrian crossings where normally it would be illegal to stop a vehicle,” he said.

“You need to give the motorist and the pedestrian as much visibility as possible.

If you then position the street furniture right up next to the kerb, then pedestrians step out from behind them and we have these accidents commonly known as dart-outs where the motorists have never seen the pedestrian.

“While we understand JCDecaux wants to get good visibility for its advertising structures, that priority needs to be a second — a poor second —to pedestrian safety.”

JCDecaux Australia’s managing director, Ms Angela Clark, said the pedestrian council had a right to raise safety issues but pointed out that the City of Sydney was responsible for the siting of the street furniture.

Pedestrian deaths were 10 per cent higher than for the same time last year, according to the pedestrian council.

Mr Scruby warned that more lives would be in danger during the Olympic Games.

“There will be 6 million tourists coming here next year and they will be conditioned to looking the wrong way,” he said.

“We are precious of the footpaths because that’s where pedestrians have rights and should feel safe.”

A spokeswoman for the City of Sydney said it could not comment on the pedestrian council’s complaints before they were studied by the relevant authorities.

A city worker, Mr Robert Price, applauded the design of the newsstand on the corner of Martin Place and Elizabeth Street, but said it was badly placed.

Related Articles:
City of Sydney Times, 1 December 1999

PCA Media Release 4 July 2002