Walking in Moorabbin

The tragic news of a pedestrian death in Moorabbin should spark action – but will it?

Recently(ish) I’ve been walking along Nepean Highway opposite Moorabbin Station, and have snapped photos, with the view to eventually writing a blog post about how horrible it is for pedestrians.

The footpath is narrow. Even narrower past the traffic lights.

There’s no shelter, obviously, and the bridge railing isn’t very high.

Nepean Highway, Moorabbin - narrow footpath opposite the station

Worse, the traffic speeds past at 80 km/h. And the kerb seems to have been deliberately designed so as not to slow down a vehicle mounting it.

Presumably it’s basically unchanged since 1958 when the rail line was moved under the road.

Then I saw this police press release from yesterday:

Moorabbin Highway Patrol officers are appealing for witnesses following the death of a pedestrian in Moorabbin this morning (Sunday).

It is believed a white Nissan Patrol driving north-bound on Nepean Highway, struck a traffic light, at the intersection of Station Street, about 9.10am.

A 59-year-old Highett man, who was at the intersection at the time, sustained life-threatening injuries and was taken to hospital where he later died.

Victoria Police: Pedestrian dies after collision in Moorabbin

This is just horrible, and you can only feel for the man’s friends and relatives.

Without knowing what happened, I really hope they look at the design and speed of this section of the highway.

80 speed limits are usually used on multi-lane divided roads with service lanes.

But here, there’s no service lane on either side. A few metres north, the highway runs through the middle of a shopping centre (with service lanes), including past narrow islands where pedestrians have to wait due to the traffic light sequencing.

Once you get to the shops on the western side of the highway or in nearby Station Street or Central Avenue, the walking environment is quite pleasant. But crossing or walking along the highway isn’t pleasant, and doesn’t feel safe.

I’m no road safety expert, but I think it’s not unreasonable to – at the very least – reduce the speed through here to something more compatible with the safety of vulnerable road users.

  • Also spotted, from the north side of town: an interesting opinion piece on road safety and politicians who say they support it, but really don’t.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

24 replies on “Walking in Moorabbin”

The original bridge design probably wasn’t intended to have a footpath, with the concrete on the sides just there to separate the cars from the crash barrier, but just happened to be wide enough to double as a path (the “soft” kerb was most likely retrofitted sometime around the 1990s; maybe the footpath was even narrower before then).

Case in point with the bridge of similar vintage at Burnley, which doesn’t have provision for pedestrians or even cyclists for that matter, forcing a slow detour via the station underpass. Not that a cyclist would bother with the bridge anyway, they’d probably be run off the road by a B-double.

Dunno if you had noticed, but the Engage Victoria website has an open consultation, Activity Centre Program – Community Engagement Phase 1, which takes in 5 areas to one of which is this area around Moorabbin station and Nepean Highway / South Road.

Absolutely tragic. I regularly cycle from Hampton to Moorabbin and actually get off my bike at that intersection and walk across as it’s too dangerous for cyclists to cross Nepean Hwy.
That a guy standing on the footpath can die like that is just awful.

A special person has left us from this tragedy. Someone who promoted sustainability and good design and engineering. We need to tackle the design of our streets. Tragic loss.

It’s been the same the whole time I’ve lived here (35 years) and you have to keep your wits about you, look carefully and never assume cars will stop either. I will keep looking at the traffic, even if I have a green man. The crossings at South and Nepean can be dangerous as well, especially if you’re caught in the middle.

I am so glad you are bringing this up. I was on my way to work, short distance from the accident scene on Sunday. In fact the ambulance was heading there at the same time along Nepean Hwy. I totally agree the speed limit should re reduced as it feels very unsafe walking along the narrow footpath. It has crossed my mind over the last seven years as it feels very unsafe.

I have to cross Bay Road if I walk to the shops at Southland. Returning home, my back is to the traffic as I re-cross. Even with lights, it is a concern that cars legally doing 80 km/h along Nepean Highway could lose control, swerve and hit me. I wouldn’t even see them coming.

Thank you for this write up Daniel. The man that died here on Sunday I worked with and knew very well. He was a very popular and well loved professional. I dont think i have the liberty to share his name (i havent checked with his family), but it sent shock waves through the entire organisation. We are all saddened by the news. I am also on a mission to make sure this never happens again in this spot. Where is the separation of traffic and pedestrians, e.g. guardrails or bollards?! Thats a public safety failure.
The other thing is my dad lives 400m away from this intersection and uses these lights regularly. I dont want him in danger either.
Anyway, i work for a major engineering company focused on infrastructure – perhaps we can collaborate to get some drawings done to fix this.

How very sad. Interestingly it seems there is no “code” that vicroads or local govt adhere to. I could be wrong but on this side of town, the footpaths on the Raleigh road bridge (over the Maribyrnong river) were widened a couple years back yet no barriers installed to seperate traffic from pedestrians.

This footpath is heavily used by dog walkers, riders, young children with cars whizzing by at 60kph. It’s one of the major exercise
Walking loops around the Essendon area. How they upgraded the footpath without fencing or a guardrail staggers me.

(-37.7699107, 144.9005795)

It’s a really complex intersection – there are two major sets of lights fairly close together (at highway speeds) with odd side street angles for the station and South Road, a bus interchange and access roads in between, and the narrow footpaths and shallow kerbs already noted. Plus there will be increased foot traffic now that strip of shops east of the station is becoming more busy.

By a complete coincidence I saw the SUV and the flattened traffic lights early that afternoon when I planned to cross in the same place. It was clear that anyone standing on that stretch of the footpath would have had nowhere to go. It’s obviously only getting more dangerous with “car” frontages and total masses only getting bigger, but even a traditional mid size car wouldn’t have left room, and the force is always likely to be lethal.

Time for a complete redesign of that transport zone I suspect.

Just terrible and rather surprised that is an 80km/h zone – but looking at Google Streetview there is even a reminder to keep your speed up as you approach the intersection, outside the bowling alley…

Recently spent a few days around Canterbury Rd through Heathmont which is not for the faint hearted, even after they dropped the speed from 70km/h to 60k/h on what really needs to be 50km/h through the shopping precinct. Various online articles from traders/resident groups pushing for a slower speed for years now. But at least there is a token fence beside the road over the rail bridge.

It also reminds me of the Wellington Rd bridge over the Monash Freeway – similar footpath width with no guardrails and about a dozen lanes whizzing below you to unsettle you. The rest of the path along that part of Wellington Rd is somewhat away from road with a row of tall gum trees separating you / or along a service road.

This is something the Minister for Active Transport should surely take an interest in – design principles for people who walk, run and cycle. There are multiple instances of paths, bridges, intersections and crossings seemingly designed and built with little or no consideration of safely and efficiently moving pedestrians, runners and cyclists.

Even some new grade separations seem to have considered the safety and ease of movement for people on foot or bicycle only after cars, trains and buses.

I’d make two comments.

First, the vehicle involved. It’s not an SUV; a Nissan Patrol is a heavy work vehicle. If the vehicle had been a Corolla of half the weight, the kinetic energy to be disappated in an accident would be reduced by half. The gentleman might have still been alive. Perhaps the rules should be changed to discourage purchase of this type of vehicle unless it is necessary.

Second, despite being erected where pedestrians congregate close to roads, traffic lights are designed to be the complete reverse of bollards. They are designed to break-off easily when struck by a vehicle. This feature, of course, is to minimise the risk of injury to the people inside the vehicle that hits the traffic light. Worse, of course, the broken off traffic light *adds* to the pedestrian risk. They could, alternatively, be designed to provide protection to pedestrians instead of vehicle occupants, but the engineers in charge of our road network have a long history of prioritising one class of road user.

This man was a very good friend of my family and we are all absolutely devastated. He was a loving husband, father and friend.

As has been mentioned in other comments, he was an engineer who was well respected in the sustainability sector. He will be sorely missed by so many.

This section of Nepean Hwy used to be 60kmh many years ago and I wonder if it should return to that? As noted, the area where he was waiting to cross the road is so very narrow, people can’t even stand 2 deep there and I have often thought how close pedestrians are to my car when I am waiting at those lights.

I went to the scene yesterday and the police road markings show the vehicle was initially in the middle lane and ‘drifted’ across to the left lane, mounted the kerb and came to rest along the barrier knocking down the traffic light. There were no signs of tyre marks on the road itself – by that I mean no braking/skid marks – but there was a couple of scuff marks on the kerb and the railing. This concerned me even more when i realised the vehicle came across from the middle lane as I expected it to be in the outside lane all the way.

Andrew above makes a very good point regarding heavy ‘work’ vehicles and their necessity on urban roads. This vehicle was also fitted with a very solid looking bullbar and Kings camping accessories on the top according to the images in the news reports.

@Andrew, it is policies of governments (and in particular the Morrison government) that imposes lower taxes on these large vehicles than smaller vehicles and electric vehicles. And a couple of years ago, Morrison encouraged the purchase of these larger vehicles through a tax write off, in which cars under $150,000 paid little tax (I am not sure of the details, so correct me if I am wrong). These larger vehicles should only be for work, and if you need a car to travel (like to an area where public transport is poor or does not exists such as a small country town or interstate), then smaller vehicles should be considered instead of these large cars, and sadly, with the tax policies of the federal government, the problems that these large cars (which can kill people as we have seen here) is that they are encouraged by the federal government, even though you cannot see a child through the windscreen due to being so big now (and sadly, they are getting bigger).

But in the longer term, we need to look at protecting pedestrians through the use of bollards, and probably make them compulsory on roads with a speed limit higher than a predetermined limit (e.g. 60 km/h or more). And with roads, the major roads (like highways) are under the auspices of the state government while the quieter roads (like residential streets) are under the auspices of local councils, and looking at the pictures, the roads in question is under the auspices of the state government as it looks like a major road (again, correct me if I am wrong).

@Craig: Canterbury Rd Heathmont is a terrible place for a pedestrian, the station with its half-hourly trains is on one side, IGA on the other (the only anchor store left after the 7-Eleven folded) with its only competition being a tiny overpriced Foodworks, uselessly slow pedestrian crossing in between, hopeless 679 bus the only other mode of public transport, and endless parking on both sides of Canterbury Rd where the shops should have been built. Of course, the parking area between the shops and Canterbury Rd is off-limits to pedestrians too and you will get beeped at and/or driven around when trying to get to or from the signalised crossing, zebra crossing be damned.

Main St (aka Maroondah Hwy) Lilydale is exactly the same, a car-centric wasteland pretending to be a local shopping precinct. Even the Maccas and KFC there are pedestrian-hostile, being located on the outskirts of the suburb and requiring a battle with drive-thru cars just to get to the building. Lilydale Bypass can’t come soon enough, but it will probably never eventuate just like the Lilydale railway duplication and Lilydale Depot bus reform (take a hint PTV, Metro and Ventura).

Nepean Highway, Moorabbin is a chicken run for pedestrians, and mess of blind spots for drivers. There’s a dip in the road on the Northbound lane, and a big height difference between the North and South sides; then a side enter/exit street on both sides, with regular traffic and a service road half of which is hidden from the Highway. The bridge should have been widened by VicRoads to allow for pedestrian and cyclist traffic, include safety barriers along all footpaths adjacent the 80kmh roadway, and provide level, observable access from the Eastern side (Railway Station) to the Western side, ideally without crossing traffic.
As it is, there are regularly pedestrians running across the road at any hour of the day against the (red man) lights, presumably because the sequencing is inadequate for them to cross.
The Nepean Hwy traffic lights at South Road are completely out of sequence with the rest, as well as Station Street, resulting in almost guaranteed congestion points at both intersections in Northerly and Southerly direction — It seems logical to have traffic sequences cycle timing between platoons, not in middle of one, perhaps a throwback to the 60km limit it once had through here which hasn’t been adjusted?

This is what North Americans call a “stroad” multi-lane, high speed, death traps that have no place exisiting in a built up environment.

The simple fix is to close a lane in each direction, convert it to a protected footpath and cut the speed limit. The ignominious VicRoads though, fail to set safe speeds, ignore and brush off compaints about unsafe pedestrian infrastructure and intersection designs, despite their claims of being “Towards Zero”.

Reading this I was reminded of a recent report of crime against a pedestrian. How we can justify giving the opportunity for a vehicle to continue through a tram stop at all is beyond my comprehension. IMHO every tram stop should be closed to vehicle traffic on the left, and protected with concrete bollards

I recently came across another footpath that is astonishingly narrow, unprotected and next to a very busy road – Swan-street Burnley, where the road crosses over the railway line. The southern side of the road, at the western end of the bridge – the footpath is maybe 50cm wide (my guess, not measured) and is right next to traffic lanes. The only “protection” is that the kerb is quite high. There is a crash barrier a little further east, but it just comes to an end.

@Marcus picked it. Swan-street in Burnley.
@Daniel’s link, Burnley-street next to Burnley station is worse, but does not seem to be intended for pedestrian use, and does have an underpass as an alternative.

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