It is now many months since The Courier highlighted the frustrating impasse over safety solutions on a number of busy intersections on Sturt Street and sure as clock work the accidents keep occurring. Statistics compiled last year showed Sturt Street had 76 injury crashes between Grenville and Pleasant streets and of these a staggering 43 or well over half, occurred at the six Sturt Street intersections without traffic lights.
Even in the time since VicRoads was sent back to the drawing board by the State Government over its turn-only solution, there have been multiple crashes at many of these - indicating Ascot Street particulalrly, will be back up there as the most notorious.
‘It’s all the drivers fault’, the keyboard warriors scream with predictable repetitiveness, without bothering to consider nearly all accidents involve driver error of some sort.
As a society focused on improvement and preservation, we both legislate, educate and engineer to ameliorate this error, reduce its occurrence or minimise its impact. Traffic lights, speed limits are just a few of the impositions modern drivers have come to accept as unpleasant realities of general safety; a burden to one but good for all. Whichever of these interventions are considered, it is clearly failing in Sturt Street.
The bad news here is Ballarat is now a big city, albeit not big enough to be clogged with congestion but certainly big enough to present a diverse array of driving skills and busy enough to elevate the risks when the variables come together in one place.
Sturt Street may be one of the great boulevards in regional Australia but it is at the same time one of the major east-west arterials in a city of 105,000 people and its magnificent broad design did not take into account the perils of high speed intersections.
The very historic trees which add to its park-like median and leisurely crossovers are also major obstructions to sight-lines for rapid vehicles but few people would suggest cutting them all down to make for faster flowing traffic. VicRoads is still at that drawing board investigating alternatives but every ruined car, battered driver – or worse, suggests the urgency of these solutions.