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    Monday
    Mar172014

    Bayswater Road's public transport trial

    Bayswater Road for taxis and buses only (pic: Daily Telegraph)

    Bayswater Road closure ... Trial spread over three Saturday nights ... Safe hub for public transport ... Aim is to reduce violence ... Taxi Council on board ... The link between crowded streets and anti-social behaviour ... Anita Senaratna reports 

    The City of Sydney's public transport trial of Bayswater Road began last weekend (March 22-23), but locals are divided on whether or not it will reduced violence and anti-social behaviour caused by late night congestion. 

    The trial will take place over three consecutive Saturday nights in March and April between 9pm and 6am.

    The only vehicles allowed on Bayswater Road will be taxis, buses, emergency vehicles and business' and resident's vehicles.

    The 2011 Residents' Association says the scheme has been "rushed and ill thought out".

    According to association treasurer, Peter Young, the main reason for opposing the proposal was that it was "not adequately explained" what road rules would apply, how the road would be configured or how the trial's success would be measured.

    "If the rationale now is to speed up traffic exiting Kings Cross – it would be helpful if the City explained how this would occur, and what other solutions such as configuring lanes ... could achieve the same objective, but without closing the road."

    The association remains concerned the road closure will not reduce alcohol fuelled violence or anti-social behaviour and will cause "detriment to residents' amenity".

    However, local business group, the Potts Point Partnership, supports the trial. 

    According to partnership coordinator Louise Shepherd, turning Bayswater Road into a "safe hub" for public transport is particularly important, as the new 1.30am lockouts in the area will most likely result on more people on the street at the same time in need of transport.

    "We think it's positive," she said.

    "The feedback that the council got was that taxis were a bit put off coming to the area.

    We needed to attract more taxis into the area, specially now with the lockout and earlier closing times. The work the council's been doing with lighting and things like that is really going to assist with making it a safe hub for people."

    The proposal to use road closures as part of the solution to alcohol-fuelled violence was first raised in August last year, at a meeting between City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone, Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Murdoch, Australian Hotels Association (NSW) CEO Paul Nicolaou, and Kings Cross Liquor Accord President Doug Grand.

    The initial plan consisted of closures on Bayswater and Darlinghurst Roads, but the Darlinghurst Road proposal is yet to be finalised.

    According to a council document the idea was drawn from a similar initiative in Vancouver last summer, as well as research done by Cardiff University, which found a link between crowded streets and alcohol-fuelled violence. 

    Lord Mayor Clover Moore said

    "This trial has the potential to reduce taxi and public transport passenger waiting times, helping people get home quickly and safely."

    The CEO of the NSW Taxi Council, Roy Wakelin-King, says it's an important trial, "which has the full support of the taxi industry". 

    Kings Cross Road, Ward Avenue, Bayswater Road, Kellett Street, Darlinghurst Road and Victoria Street are all being monitored throughout the trial to gauge any increase as a result of the road closure. 

    Baseline traffic counts were conducted at those locations before the trial commenced. 

    The City says pedestrian surveys are also being carried out over six consecutive Saturday nights from March 1 to April 5, seeking responses from local residents, businesses and victors. 

    Anita Senaratna reporting

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