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Safety Measures Cause Parking Pain In Coogee

By Sarah Healey on August 9, 2012 in News

Photo: Grant Brooks

Finding a needle in a haystack can be a cumbersome exercise, and trying to jag a car park along Coogee Bay Road is not entirely different. When triumphant, you always give yourself a mental high-five while smirking at the unfortunate soul behind you who’ll have to do another lap around the block or, heaven forbid, park further away from the main shopping strip.

Disappointingly, finding that proverbial needle just got harder as several car parks were removed recently to make way for speed cushions, a refuge island and new road markings. The installation is part of an approved Roads and Maritime Authority ‘40km High Pedestrian Activity Program’. Its aim is to make the street safer for pedestrians by slowing motorists down in densely populated areas. The RMA is covering the full cost of the devices ($188,500) along Coogee Bay Road and Arden Street, with Randwick Council implementing the project.

At its Works Committee meeting in May 2011, Randwick Council stated that, “from 2002 to 2007 there were 15 pedestrian/vehicle crashes in the study area of Coogee Bay Road and Arden Street. Fortunately, none of them were fatal.” It was also revealed that speed counts indicated that cars at night regularly exceed 60km/h in the area.

According to Council’s communications manager Joshua Hay, “the works make the area safer for the thousands of locals and visitors who are at Coogee every day. The speed limit will also be lowered to 40km/h. We consulted with the community about this plan last year and they were generally supportive.”

When asked if this is a step towards installing parking meters, Hay stated, “I can reassure you that Council has no plans to put parking meters along Coogee Bay Road.”

Local café-goer Jess McKay believes the changes are beneficial for the area.

“You need to look at it in terms of safety, because there are a lot of families, a lot of intoxicated people at night, it’s a very busy area. And you see people run across that road hoping a car will slow down for them. It’s getting too dangerous,” she said.

However, it seems that not everyone is in approval of the so-called improvements, many believing that the loss of car parks will affect local businesses.

“It used to be easier to find a quick park to duck in and grab a takeaway coffee. I’ve definitely noticed already that we don’t get as many patrons,” said one of the many café owners on the strip.

The café owner also noted that people are now using the loading zones as a brief parking spot, much to the frustration of truck drivers trying to unload their goods.

“With the truckies, I see them blowing up at people all the time. It’s just getting out of hand,” he said.

Joff Garvey, who runs funky Coogee Bay Road clothing boutique By San Sebastian, is in two minds about the road changes.

“I see it as a positive in the sense as they are starting to pay a little more attention to the area, but the council should have evaluated the parking situation more. People are going to say ‘it’s too hard to get a spot’, and all of a sudden Coogee Bay Road just becomes a bypass because people aren’t going to drive two or three times around the block just to come to shop. They’ll find a new shop or café where it’s a little more convenient,” he said.