Peninsula Road, Valley Heights Median Strip Trip Hazard
Campaign Commenced 2017
Median Strip Installed to Reduce Vehicle Crashes puts Cyclists at Risk
In July 2017, RMS installed a concrete median strip which jutted out perpendicular into the intersection with the great Western Highway, halfway to the fog line. This posed a foreseeable trip hazard risk to cyclists using the Peninsula Road left turning lane to travel east on the GWH through the intersection towards Warrimoo. Cyclists moving at speeds between 30km - 40km (eg. speed is easy to achieve as the area is a down slope) and concentrating on vehicles turning into the Great Western Highway (GWH) from Peninsula Road cannot reasonably be expected to see the median strip and take evasive action.
RMS told the BMCSF that it installed the concrete median in response to a number of road traffic crashes at the intersection. RMS believed that the cause of crashes was motorists using the turning lane and intersection at Peninsula Road as a deceleration lane to enter the BP service station from the GWH. The driveway entrance to BP is only 20 metres east of the intersection. Crashes have resulted when some of these vehicles seeking access to the BP, have ‘t-boned’ other vehicles attempting to exit Peninsula Road onto the GWH.
According to RMS, the median strip was intended to regulate access to the BP by encouraging traffic to enter the garage via the Peninsular Road entry (or at least not use the intersection to decelerate). Despite this, vehicles continue to use the lane to turn off the GWH into the BP drive entrance as evidenced by the black tyre marks and chipped concrete on the west face of the concrete median strip.
Cycling Community Takes Action
August 2017: A member of Penrith Cycling Club raised concerns with RMS about cyclists' and motorists' safety and called for the strip to be removed. There was no initial response from RMS
2nd April 2018: A cyclist from Kellyville crashed after colliding with the median strip heading east. The cyclist was hospitalised as a result of his injuries (see ‘Go Pro’ recording of the crash on this page)
May 2018: BMCSF prepared a crash incident report and proposed some alternative road safety treatments to the median strip
Feb 2019: Following unsatisfactory responses by RMS, BMCSF wrote to the Minister for Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight. A response on behalf of the Minister indicated RMS had agreed to install a bicycle warning sign on Peninsula Road by the end of April 2019, to warn motorists of cyclists on GWH.
August 2019: Unsatisfied with the Minister's response, the BMCSF wrote to BP seeking their cooperation to address the road safety issues by better managing the means by which vehicles enter and exit its place of business.
In its reports to RMS and BP, BMCSF identified the following treatment option to eliminate the hazard:
Close the BP driveway on the GWH and redirect BP customers to the entrance on Peninsular Road
Remove the median strip and formalised the intersection for use by cyclists to ride safely into adjacent the shoulder on the GWH
Convert the GWH road shoulder adjoining the intersection of the PB side of the intersection to a dedicated bicycle lane for approximately 50 metres (or enough to block the first driveway access but not so as to obstruct vehicles existing onto the GWH from the second driveway).
Place additional signage, including, to indicate to motorists that there is no entrance to BP from the highway and that they must turn left (i.e. enter from Peninsula Road).
The proposed options are consistent with RMS NSW Bicycle Guidelines Principles and also BP Australia’s obligations as a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
BP responses to BMCSF Recommendations
BP commissioned, and provided to BMCSF, a transport safety study. In the report provided to the BMCSF, BP argued that the position of the driveway adjacent to the intersection was within the Australian standard and, therefore, it insisted, the driveway would not close. The Australian standard permits driveways within 6 metres of an intersection (BP’s drive is approximately 20m). Strict compliance with an Australian standard does not always result in a safe outcome. Safe outcomes are the result of safe systems of work. An Australian standard may or may not assist deliver a safe system of work. It depends on its application and context. In this case, the Australian standard does not protect public safety. In fact, the result is it does the opposite.
BP, however, did helpfully note the following in its report:
....if the intention was to leave the island short of the lane line so that cyclists could still travel in the left turn lane to travel straight ahead, the fact that cyclist are hitting the protruding island confirms that the implemented scheme does not work.… [T]here is insufficient delineation to show cyclists that they can travel through this section of the road. One way to have done this would be to have provided a coloured cycleway marking across the entire intersection as sketched below. We feel this measure could still be implemented to improve the situation.
February 2021: TfNSW agrees to Green Paint
After further lobbying by BMCSF in February 2021, TfNSW (which absorbed the functions of the RMS when the latter was abolished in 2019), agreed to paint a green path or strip in the intersection at Peninsula Road a to provide a clear line of travel between the fog line and the end of the median strip (which transgresses to the midway point of the width of shoulder/ intersection). This measure is consistent with BP's recommendation and one of the mitigations proposed by BMCSF in its report to RMS in May 2018. The green painted pathway will be in addition to the bicycle warning sign on Peninsula Road installed in 2019, warning motorists of cyclists on the GWH.
BMCSF appreciates the cooperation of TfNSW and BP in supporting some level of protection to cyclists. We also appreciate that BP has legitimate concerns about the commercial impact to its business of not permitting motorists to enter directly from the GWH. It is our view, however, the most effective measure to reduce harm and injury and possibly save lives is to eliminate the source of the problem and that requires better management of traffic entering BP from the GWH. Redirecting BP customers into Peninsula Road is one option but there may be other solutions.
Managing the risk to public safety arising from the ingress and egress to BP's premises is consistent with BP's obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. BP should answer why it is not reasonably practical to work with TfNSW to redirect traffic to its off highway entrance in Peninsula Road or in the alternate, enter from its second driveway on the GWH and exit from Peninsula Road to return to the GWH. Not withstanding its WHS responsibilities, BP's social licence to work in our community, and the history of crashes which TfNSW claim are linked to the garage, means it ought to have a moral obligation to transparently demonstrate how the operation of its business at Valley Heights does not put the public at risk. Hiding behind an Australian standard which allows a driveway 6 metres from a busy intersection on a major highway is not convincing and side steps the issue. BP Australia needs to demonstrate a safe system of work which protects the public from road crashes arising from traffic entering its premises.
The Median Strip remains a Suboptimal Response
Centre for Road Safety crash data (see table) indicates that between 2018 and 2019 (i.e. after the median strip was installed) there were 4 crashes at the Peninsula Road intersection that resulted in 4 persons injured (including one cyclist - see video above). This compares to 6 crashes between 2015 and 2017 (i.e. before the median strip was installed) that resulted in 3 injuries. The data suggests that the median strip has not only failed to have a significant impact on reducing crashes but there has been an increase in the number of persons injured at the intersection since it was installed. The median strip appears to continue to be a suboptimal road safety response. TfNSW need to explain whether the median strip has had any impact on the reduction of crashes and/ or injuries since 2018 and if not, whether it will now consider engineering solutions which will be safer for all road users. The BMCSF will continue to monitor the situation and urge both BP and TfNSW to reconsider their approach in light of the crash data to date.
Cyclists to Report Incidents
Crashes which don’t involve police, hospitalisation, workers compensation or motor accident insurance do not end up in TfNSW Centre for Road Safety crash data, so we encourage cyclists to report incidents (including near misses) to the BMCSF.