Launceston creeps a danger to public

LAUNCESTON motorists are a pack of creeps.

Let me explain.

Unlike other cities, there's a tendency for turning Launceston drivers to slowly creep up on pedestrians who have a green walk light.

In most cities I have visited, motorists wait behind the white line, but here it seems impatience creeps in on the equation.

Creeping is a grey area when it comes to legality, but it sends a very clear signal to pedestrians about safety and courtesy, or lack thereof.

Yesterday, a creep nearly knocked me down as I crossed Elizabeth Street beckoned by the little green man.

This Falcon-driving fool was clearly breaking the law in not giving me right-of-way and missing me by centimetres.

But there's the rub. While creeping may appear harmless in the main, it only takes a small miscalculation for the outcome to be catastrophic and criminal.

I'm not alone here.

In compiling its Launceston pedestrian strategy, the Launceston City Council asked users of its online forum how it could encourage more walking in the city.

A mother by the name of Simone responded: "General driver education regarding giving way at our marked crossings is urgently required.

"My children and I are continually ignored at a crossing from the lights on High and York Street.

"I would never feel comfortable letting my children cross without me because of this."

Simone said she felt like a "chicken dodging the cars".

"We have had a few near misses there over this year alone," she said.

And then there's Caboose, which if spoken correctly rhymes with goose, who wrote:

"Firstly, I have to say that when I am driving I hate the way pedestrians just dawdle across in front of you when you have a green light and so do they."

Caboose obviously isn't familiar with Newton's laws of motion and the relative speed limitations of human legs versus the combustion engine.

"My thing is that cars should not have to be kept waiting for pedestrians as cars are burning fuel and pedestrians are just burning calories," Caboose continues.

"The exhaust from idling vehicles is not good for pedestrian lungs either, let alone the atmosphere."

Surprisingly, he or she is "a very keen walker" albeit with an unorthodox approach to road safety.

"Every day I am out on the streets of Launy and I never press the button at lights, I just keep walking until it is safe for me to cross."

But good on Caboose for having a say and displaying the kind of attitude - which puts tonnes of metal ahead of flesh and blood - that the council must combat.

The council's research revealed a lack of priority crossing for pedestrians and "a perception by pedestrians that there is a lack of respect for pedestrian activity in Launceston".

In adopting the strategy late last year, the council signed up to the International Charter for Walking, which elevates pedestrian safety to a high priority.

Indeed, at its core the strategy aims "to make Launceston a great walking city - a city with a people-friendly traffic system".

While the rhetoric hits the right notes the lack of specific funding for the strategy is less heartening.

Another yawning gap is the lack of a driver awareness campaign about pedestrian safety in the strategy.

Without these, plenty of near misses can be expected on the road ahead.


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