Safety dance: Campaign to protect pedestrians near medical centres

By | June 15, 2019

Retired barrister Stephen Wilson is the driving force behind the push and he this week met Bathurst Regional Council’s heads of planning and engineering to discuss his concerns.

Mr Wilson is initially focusing on pedestrian safety in the CBD’s unofficial “medical precincts” where there are a number of medical offices established near each other.

They include the Russell Street block that runs between William and Bentinck streets that is home to the Russell Street Medical Centre, Barratt & Smith Pathology and Bathurst Physiotherapy Centre.

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Mr Wilson says the combination of heavy vehicles that run along Russell Street and pedestrians who might be aged, frail, unwell and even medicated as they walk between those medical offices means a fatality is “matter of when, not if”.

He has the backing of a number of medical businesses who have provided letters of support for pedestrian crossings near medical facilities and having areas of the CBD formally recognised as medical precincts.

“Motorists create hazards for pedestrians and vice versa,” Mr Wilson said.

“Safer road management would benefit both [sets of] road users.

“In fact, they change hats many times a day [and are] essentially the same people.”

Motorists create hazards for pedestrians and vice versa.

Stephen Wilson

As a first measure, Mr Wilson would like to see a refuge island installed in Russell Street to make it easier for pedestrians to cross the road.

“The proposal would be for traffic coming down from the court house end of Russell Street and wanting to turn into Aldi to proceed through to the roundabout [at Bentinck Street], turn around and come back up to take a left into Aldi,” he said.

“And all traffic would exit to the left coming out of Aldi.”

Russell Street, between William and Bentinck streets …

However, Mr Wilson’s first meeting with council staff made it clear that it was a “complex” area that would also require input from Roads and Maritime Services.

“But I’m not about apportioning blame – I’m problem-focused and this problem is not going to go away,” he said.

Mr Wilson said he was prompted to take action after he nearly knocked down by a vehicle near the corner of Bentinck and Russell streets.

“And my own son was knocked down by a car nearly 40 years ago,” he said. “I want to make it safer for everyone.”

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Western Advocate – Health