“Fix it before someone dies”
A potentially fatal car accident in which a child was almost run over has prompted demands that Hornsby Council fix a death-trap street in the town centre.
Vivienne Hepworth was driving her grandchild through Florence Street in April when a toddler bolted out of her pushchair and ran straight at the car’s wheels.
Fortunately the car was only crawling along. But horrified school kids who saw the incident unfold screamed in horror, and it left Vivienne shaken and extremely upset.
After checking the child was unhurt, she rang the Council and demanded they fix the confused mess of both Florence Street and Hunter Lane feeding onto it. After bridge works were completed in January, Council also pedestrianised Florence Street.
Both form a ‘shared zone’ where cars, delivery vehicles, garbage trucks, businesses, first responders and pedestrians all share the same streets - also used by literally thousands of school kids and shoppers every day.
“Before the bridge was improved, it was an ordinary road surface with no bollards and was clearly a road for cars,” said Vivienne. “Now it’s very unclear, and the majority of pedestrians are oblivious to the fact that it’s a shared zone.” She has taken on the Council along with her son Matt Tulk who lives in a high rise backing onto the Lane with over 300 residents.
The only clues vehicles may also use these two streets are several signs on the road and up high on the side of a building. “But most pedestrians are looking at their phones or the shops rather than reading signs, creating the potential for fatal accidents,” said Matt Tulk.
In its changes to these streets Council has, said Matt Tulk, also failed to adhere to Road and Maritime Services’ three regulations associated with shared zones including a different road surface to the pavement around it.
“It doesn’t look like a street as it has the same surface as the rest of the mall,” says Matt.
Tensions in the area have escalated to the point now where Dr Sacks who practises locally, has had his car kicked by pedestrians. Others have screamed at motorists and there are constant skirmishes.
Matt has three solutions he has put to the Council, including widening Hunter Lane at the Burdett Street end where the library car park is located, to allow two way traffic, and blocking it off at the top.
Despite three meetings with the Council, he says the problem has not been remediated.
The father of a nine year-old Berowra girl who got her legs trapped in adult exercise device last month is calling for Ku-ring-gai to fix the equipment before it injures someone again.
Marnie Cuttell was playing on the sit-up machine in Turramurra’s Karuah Park while her dad Ashley was soccer coaching her brother’s team nearby, when bystanders heard her screams.
“The section in the middle was tapered and because of the angle of the platform her legs slid down and trapped her mid thigh on both sides - she was in a lot of pain,” said Ashley Cuttell from Berowra.
The frightened little girl was trapped for 30 minutes, her dad supporting her weight to reduce the pain, until firemen cut the middle section of the equipment with an electric saw, which mercifully took just seconds. She was left with severe bruising on her legs.
“There was no signage or fencing telling me it’s not play equipment so naturally kids play on it. “Of course we can’t remove danger from every aspect of our lives but I honestly don’t think a risk assessment was done on this. Kids’ play equipment is sectioned off - so why isn’t adults’ exercise devices too?
“What happened to Marnie could not have happened to an adult - what if we hadn’t been there?”
Ku-ring-gai Council has said it is replacing
the sit-up device as part of a program of equipment upgrades. “The Council regularly inspects, maintains and repairs equipment for use in public areas. This particular equipment was installed in 2011 and meets Australian Standards.
“The item is due to be removed and replaced in the very near future as part of the regular program of replacement and renewal. Other fitness equipment in Karuah Park is also being removed and replaced.
“In the meantime Council staff have isolated (sectioned off) the piece of equipment that was involved in the incident. We are reviewing signage to ensure the public are aware that this fitness equipment is intended for use by adults.”
Matt Tulk and his mum Vivienne Hepworth in the shared zone of Hunter Lane
Marnie Cuttell (centre) with her dad Ashley and the first responders who freed her.