Pedestrian crossings in central Warrnambool will only work if a holistic traffic plan is introduced to reduce traffic congestion, according to the former councillor behind the original concept.
Businessman Peter Hulin was behind the idea of boosting shopper safety through the widespread use of pedestrian crossings when he was a councillor.
He said the Warrnambool City Council had failed to sell the plan involving pedestrian crossings and free parking.
"There is no doubt that pedestrian crossings are safer for pedestrians, but the gridlock is being caused because the council has not outlined a plan and encouraged use of the free off-street parking," Mr Hulin said.
"The speed limit in the CBD should be reduced, those key entry points to car parks emphasised and pedestrians encouraged.
"The days of parking out the front of Warrnambool CBD shops are all but over.
"Warrnambool is a thriving regional centre and needs a traffic plan that suits."
Mr Hulin believes the current system could work far better if a holistic plan was put in place.
He said that plan would involve a higher speed ring road to provide access to key car parks.
Already off-street parking has been made free for an hour.
Mr Hulin said the ring road concept had been "sabotaged" by the council.
The council has commissioned a review of the current pedestrian crossings, but the result of that review is currently being kept under wraps.
That review found a large number of people surveyed disliked the pedestrian crossings as they inhibit traffic flow - particularly during times of peak flow and lead to the central business district almost being gridlocked.
It is understood the council has decided not to release the results of the review, claiming the data pool was too small.
Mr Hulin said the ring road would involve Raglan Parade, Banyan Street, Merri Street and Henna Street.
He said that would provide access to car parks such as Parkers, Coles, Ozone and off Timor, Koroit and Fairy streets.
Additional free parks are already available off Merri Street, but the former councillor said there was room to expand other parking around Swan Reserve.
He called for free centre median strip parking on Raglan Parade to allow even more pedestrian access to the CBD.
"That development would further boost free parking and encourage pedestrian traffic into the CBD," he said.
"There are ways to encourage the ring road concept. It's short sighted to just say the pedestrian crossing don't work and just to rip them all out," he said.
Mr Hulin called for 30km/h limit in the CBD and for a free-flowing ring road to be 50km/h.
Pedestrian crossings have been put in at the intersection of Liebig Street with Lava Street, Koroit Street and Timor Street as well as Timor and Kepler streets, Koroit and Kepler streets.
There are pedestrian lights on Koroit Street and Liebig Street and additional crossings in Liebig Street out the front of the council offices and in Liebig Street between Timor and Koroit Streets.
Mr Hulin said Merri Street had been slowed to 40km/h and there was dangerous on-street parking on Henna Street.
The section of road between the war memorial and the Merri and Banyan streets round-about was equally dangerous, he said.
"That section of road could be freed up by providing off-street parking in a new car park at Cannon Hill.
"That would make the roadway safer and more free-flowing. The traffic issues there are similar to the problems on Henna Street, which is very congested and dangerous because of the on-street parking," he said.
"That sabotages the whole concept of a free-flowing ring road.
"Some of these issues are not an easy fix, but things like round-abouts at the south end of Fairy Street, near the railway station, and at the south end of Henna Street would make an enormous difference.
Warrnambool based its pedestrian crossings on a similar concept at Mackay council in Queensland.
Mackay council director of capital works Jim Carless said he was pleased with the way pedestrian crossings worked in Mackay.
"They are not an issue, not a topic of discussion or contention," he said.
"We have pedestrianised our CBD. There are pretty much four on every corner and on the bigger blocks we have mid block crossings
"We have pedestrianised the city to reduce the impact of cars," he said.
Mr Carless said he was involved in the Mackay CBD works in 2014/15.
He said that he was in turn involved in providing some design review and advice to Warrnambool City Council back in 2015/16 when changes to Liebig Street were being designed.
"Staff (and councillors) from Warrnambool visited Mackay during the major reconstruction of the CBD here," he said.
Mr Carless said Mackay had not removed pedestrian crossings.
"If anything we added them, and also rationalized their locations," he said.
Warrnambool City Council chief executive officer Peter Schneider said it was pleasing to see pedestrians of all ages and abilities move easily about Liebig Street.
"Since the city centre renewal was completed in 2018 older people and people with prams or mobility aids can cross at intersections or mid-block without having to dash between moving cars," he said.
"There's no waiting in the rain or under a hot sun and the absence of high gutters adds to the ease of crossing the road or getting into a car or taxi.
"We know that our city centre remains hugely popular with residents and visitors.
"It's backed up by retail spending evidence, by the numbers of people walking on the footpaths and by those who are using our on and off-street car parking.
He said the city centre renewal, completed with the support of $10 million from Victorian and Australian governments, had been a great success.
"Before the pedestrian priority intersections were put in place there were times when vehicle traffic would become banked up for short periods of time. This is no different to traffic lining up at a red traffic light," he said.
"Over peak periods traffic can still bank up for short periods of time, which is a by-product of having a very popular and vibrant city centre.
"We believe our community made it very clear during exhaustive consultation prior to the city centre renewal and in the development of the long-term plan, Warrnambool 2040, that it wanted to put people, not cars, first."
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