“Fix it before someone dies”

Matt Tulk and his mum Vivienne Hepworth in the shared zone of Hunter Lane
Matt Tulk and his mum Vivienne Hepworth in the shared zone of Hunter Lane

A potentially fatal car accident in which a child was almost run over has prompted demands that Hornsby Council fix a death-trap street in the town centre.

Vivienne Hepworth was driving her grandchild through Florence Street in April when a toddler bolted out of her pushchair and ran straight at the car’s wheels.

Fortunately the car was only crawling along. But horrified school kids who saw the incident unfold screamed in horror, and it left Vivienne shaken and extremely upset.

After checking the child was unhurt, she rang the Council and demanded they fix the confused mess of both Florence Street and Hunter Lane feeding onto it. After bridge works were completed in January, Council also pedestrianised Florence Street.

Both form a ‘shared zone’ where cars, delivery vehicles, garbage trucks, businesses, first responders and pedestrians all share the same streets – also used by literally thousands of school kids and shoppers every day.

“Before the bridge was improved, it was an ordinary road surface with no bollards and was clearly a road for cars,” said Vivienne. “Now it’s very unclear, and the majority of pedestrians are oblivious to the fact that it’s a shared zone.”

She has taken on the Council along with her son Matt Tulk who lives in a high rise backing onto the Lane with over 300 residents.

The only clues vehicles may also use these two streets are several signs on the road and up high on the side of a building. “But most pedestrians are looking at their phones or the shops rather than reading signs, creating the potential for fatal accidents,” said Matt Tulk.

In its changes to these streets Council has, said Matt Tulk, also failed to adhere to Road and Maritime Services’ three regulations associated with shared zones including a different road surface to the pavement around it.

“It doesn’t look like a street as it has the same surface as the rest of the mall,” says Matt.

Tensions in the area have escalated to the point now where Dr Sacks who practises locally, has had his car kicked by pedestrians. Others have screamed at motorists and there are constant skirmishes.

Matt has three solutions he has put to the Council, including widening Hunter Lane at the Burdett Street end where the library car park is located, to allow two way traffic, and blocking it off at the top.

Despite three meetings with the Council, he says the problem has not been remediated.

“I don’t buy that Council has no money to fix the problem.

“MP Matt Kean recently told me the state government was going to give Hornsby Council $100 million for its losses over suburbs going to Parramatta. So I would say to Council: spend some and fix this before someone dies.”

Hornsby Council denies there is a problem in these streets. “There is no evidence remediation is necessary,” says a spokesperson.

“The shared zone has been implemented in accordance with RMS guidelines. Council has been monitoring the shared zone since it was created and is satisfied that it is safe for both pedestrians and vehicles.

“As long as motorists follow the rules of a shared zone, which means sticking to the speed limit and accepting that pedestrians have right of way, Council is confident it is safe.”

Matt Tulk is organising a petition for the building’s residents to sign in a bid to get Council to change its mind.

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