Oxford St fence no more, for now
Oxford Street business owners and residents from Paddington and Darlinghurst are breathing a sigh of relief after Roads Minister put a halt for the time being on plans by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to install a dividing fence in the middle of Oxford Street.
Late last week, Gay announced that the pedestrian-deterrent fence, due to be installed in February next year, will now be delayed after a mountain of criticism was aired against the plan following revelations the public had only until the first week of December provide their views on the issue. Woollahra Mayor Andrew Petrie had also joined locals in presenting a petition against the plan to the Parliamentary Secretary for Roads John Ajaka.
The planned fence – which was to run for almost 400 metres from Jersey Road to Oatley Road – was part of a larger RMS project which would have seen traffic lanes on Oxford Street widened in a bid to improve traffic flow.
Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, who had joined local residents and businesses in opposing the fence’s construction, paid tribute to the Oxford Street community on their “fast and effective campaign” to oppose the RMS plan.
“I have written to the Minister and made a submission to the RMS calling on this to be a permanent decision,” Greenwich told SX.
“I’ve been pushing for a 40kph speed limit and a ‘tidal lane’ to allow removal of the clearway, keep on-street parking and improve footpath amenity.”
Many of the complaints made to Gay and the RMS suggested any fence would create pedestrian hazards and destroy the shopping strip’s economic viability as well as any attempts to rejuvenate the area’s village-like feel.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore told SX the RMS plan seemed to be hastily thought of with little reflection on how it would impact locals.
“RMS did not directly notify the City of Sydney of this proposal. The central median in Oxford Street, Paddington, was temporarily removed by Ausgrid to provide traffic management around their upgrade works,” she said.
“The median was to be replaced once work along Oxford Street was completed by Ausgrid.”
Moore said there was already plenty of consensus amongst residents, businesses and other stakeholders that reducing the speed limit on Oxford Street to 40 kilometres per hour would prove a far better way at improving road and pedestrian safety in the area.
“A similar fence in the middle of Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, near Taylor Square, was removed because it didn’t stop people crossing the street and increased pedestrian safety problems,” she told SX.
“Instead of blocking access to local roads and potentially trapping pedestrians in the middle of a busy road, the most effective step the RMS could take to improve safety is lowering speed limits to 40 kilometres per hour.”