Death trap for peo­ple and wildlife

Lower speed limit as tourism and li­censed venues grow, says Rose­mary Sand­ford

Mercury (Hobart) - - TALKING POINT - Dr Rose­mary Sand­ford lives on Bruny Is­land and is a mem­ber of sev­eral Bruny Is­land com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions and BirdLife Tas­ma­nia. She is a univer­sity as­so­ciate in Ge­og­ra­phy and En­vi­ron­men­tal Stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Tas­ma­nia.

THE newly opened wider, straighter, sealed road on The Neck at Bruny Is­land is a fine ex­am­ple of a ma­jor tourist high­way con­structed to aid the flow of the in­creas­ing num­ber of tourists to Bruny. Many sup­ported its con­struc­tion and are happy to see it opened. A sealed road means fewer dirty cars for res­i­dents and for hire com­pa­nies, and greater com­pli­ance with hire car in­sur­ance re­quire­ments. A sealed road also makes faster speeds pos­si­ble for those time­poor, day trip­pers and oth­ers rac­ing to catch a ferry off the is­land.

I have writ­ten about Bruny be­ing loved to death by mass mar­ket tourism (Talk­ing Point, Fe­bru­ary 3, 2016 and July 15, 2017). I high­lighted the ur­gent need for more bird and wildlife pro­tec­tion, pub­lic toi­lets, rub­bish and re­cy­cling fa­cil­i­ties, and for lo­cal busi­nesses to be self-suf­fi­cient in fresh wa­ter to meet their bur­geon­ing cus­tomer needs with­out de­plet­ing the lo­cal aquifer on which res­i­dents and lo­cal fire­fight­ing and emer­gency ser­vices de­pend. Bruny still does not have these ser­vices, but we have a new road along the Neck.

In 2016-2017, Bruny will have 147,087 in­ter­state and in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors, up from 84,701 in 2013-14, with­out in­clud­ing in­trastate vis­i­tors (Bruny Is­land Tourism Strat­egy 2017, King­bor­ough Coun­cil). The sealed Neck road and larger carpark have been built pri­mar­ily to ac­com­mo­date the wishes of the tourism in­dus­try and the Govern­ment’s re­liance on tourism as the main­stay of the state’s econ­omy.

What will this faster, wider, straighter road mean for the sus­tain­abil­ity of ap­pro­pri­ate, na­ture-based tourism and for the live­abil­ity of Bruny res­i­dents? Will it elim­i­nate the Neck road ‘death trap’ as Nic Street, Lib­eral Mem­ber for Franklin, says, or will speed and the con­fus­ing pro­lif­er­a­tion of con­tra­dic­tory road signs cre­ate more prob­lems for road-users?

The day­time speed lim­its on the new road are 80km/h with 60km/h in the ‘wildlife’ zone near the carpark. And a new 90km/h zone ap­pears to have been cre­ated to­wards the south­ern end of the Neck road. Dusk to dawn speeds are 60km/h and 45 km/h re­spec­tively. Bruny Is­land Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion, Bruny Is­land En­vi­ron­ment Net­work and BirdLife Tas­ma­nia have ex­pressed con­cern about these road speeds to the De­part­ment of State Growth. Why not re­duce the day­time road safety risks by re­duc­ing the speed limit across the whole Neck to 60km/h, and 45km/h within the wildlife zone as re­quested?

Will the green painted strips across the road em­bla­zoned with ‘Wildlife” in white near the carpark be un­der­stood by our nonEnglish speak­ing vis­i­tors? Why not traf­fic calmers such as road humps and rum­ble strips as else­where in Tas­ma­nia’s road­kill hot-spots? Use in­ter­na­tional sym­bols rather than English-lan­guage road signs and the ‘Wildlife’ sign which is not vis­i­ble when driv­ing in a line of traf­fic and at night, the worst time for wildlife.

CSIRO sci­en­tist and road­kill re­searcher Alis­tair Hob­day has iden­ti­fied The Neck as one of Tas­ma­nia’s worst road­kill hot-spots. Why is Dr Hob­day’s GPS app on road­kill not manda­tory in every hire car and camper­van? How about is­su­ing all vis­i­tors to the state, by air and sea, with multi-lin­gual brochures ad­vis­ing them on how to drive with wildlife, as is part of driver train­ing in the US and Scan­di­navia?

Road safety for hu­mans, as well as wildlife, is a ma­jor is­sue on The Neck road and else­where on Bruny.

Bruny Is­land Cruises has ap­plied for a liquor li­cence for its new 200-seater restau­rant for pa­trons and the pub­lic at

Ad­ven­ture Bay, just past the shop, the Ad­ven­ture Bay hall and play­ground, the bowls club and the car­a­van park. Liquor li­cences are also held by a whisky out­let, a North Bruny cafe, the cheesery/ brew­ery, the vine­yard, the ho­tel, and oth­ers.

The cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect is likely to mean more po­ten­tially drunken drivers on Bruny roads, more ac­ci­dents and more road­kill.

The Bruny am­bu­lance and the SES are de­pen­dent on age­ing vol­un­teers; the com­mu­nity nurses are over­worked; med­i­cal and the health cen­tre ser­vices are woe­fully in­ad­e­quate to at­tend to res­i­dents’ needs, let alone the del­uge of sum­mer vis­i­tors. What does the Govern­ment in­tend to do about this lack of es­sen­tial ser­vices be­fore the next ma­jor ac­ci­dent, or a fa­tal­ity, oc­curs?

Polic­ing on Bruny is in­ad­e­quate. The is­land needs more full-time po­lice on­is­land in peak tourist sea­son (Oc­to­ber to March), and the bu­reau­cratic and po­lit­i­cal will to pe­nalise driv­ing of­fences. All those in breach of road safety rules must be treated equally, be they vis­i­tors or lo­cals.

Build­ing faster, sealed roads comes at a so­cial cost to res­i­dents.

New roads alone will not en­hance the live­abil­ity of Bruny. What will it take, be­yond more tourism des­ti­na­tion and ‘live­abil­ity’ stud­ies, for the Govern­ment to hear and re­spond to the needs of Bruny res­i­dents, rather than treat­ing the is­land as a cash cow for govern­ment? We hope it won’t take a ma­jor ac­ci­dent or fa­tal­ity on the “road to the isles”.

Bruny is unique. We know this. The tourism brochures and govern­ment re­peat­edly tell us so. Bruny’s res­i­dents, its wildlife and its nat­u­ral values, de­serve re­spect. We are still wait­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.