News / Road Safety

Enough is enough: residents demand action on notorious road

What will it take to make the Nicholson-Albion street bend safer?

Albion Street resident Nicole Kearney amid the debris caused by the most recent crash.

Mark Phillips
Sunday, March 28, 2021

DOZENS of car crashes on the same stretch of road in Brunswick East should be enough to trigger action to make it safer, but instead local residents are frustrated by years of buck passing by Moreland Council and the state government.

The bend where Nicholson Street turns into Albion Street is notorious for being a sharp turn that motorists frequently approach too fast and lose control, leaving residents to pick up the pieces of their smashed front fences.

Over the years, they have lost count of the number of times a car has careened around the corner and crashed into a front fence or slid across the road into Jones Park. It is particularly dangerous when the road is wet.

They say it is a miracle that no-one has been seriously injured or killed, especially as the corner is only a few dozen metres from Brunswick East Primary School and is regularly used by students and their parents.

One property has had its fence damaged eight times in the past five years, including twice within three weeks in March. In both cases, the driver and passengers were not seriously injured.

Residents have been campaigning for almost six years to improve safety on the bend. The speed limit was lowered from 60kmh to 40kmh and two years ago, VicRoads made some cosmetic improvements with new road markings signage, but residents say this was nowhere near enough.

A Facebook page to campaign for change not only at the Nicholson-Albion street bend, but in other streets in the neighbourhood has been established.

A map of the crash area at the Nicholson-Albion bend (click on image to view full size).

Both Brunswick MLA Tim Read and Moreland Mayor Annalivia Carli Hannan recently visited the site and residents hope this may finally be the start of action to make the corner safer.

Nicole Kearney, whose front fence at 18 Albion Street was smashed in the most recent incidents and has suffered six other crashes since 2016, said she feared it would take nothing less than a fatality to get change.

“I’ve been told by VicRoads that someone has to die before they will do something about it,” she said. “Surely we don’t want it to get to that.”

Ms Kearney, who has lived near the bend with her young family for a decade and a half, said the removal of a steel traffic barrier in 2016 was the start of her problems.

Until then, the barrier prevented cars careening into houses on her side of the road. But since 2016, most of her neighbours have suffered damage to their properties, with one former resident even having his car written off four times when it was parked outside his house.

“[The barrier] got pummelled regularly in the first few years and one crash in 2016 made it bend into our fence and made it impossible to walk past. The council took it away and because they removed the road barrier, my fence has become the barrier instead.

“They go too fast around the corner, swerve onto the other side of the road, then over-correct and smash into our fence. I’m concerned that the swerving to the other side will cause a head on collision one day.

“We hear the cars screeching around the corner and then we just wait for the sound of the smash.

“There’s so many near misses, the little speed signs in the centre island get flattened regularly, trees have been hit and people have knocked down power lines. All of our neighbours have been hit once or twice and we’ve been hit eight times because we’re in the sweet spot where people swerve around the corner … I’ve helped an old man out of his car, another man wet himself after having an accident, there’s been one head on collision but we’re just astonished that no-one’s been seriously injured yet.”

“I’ve been told by VicRoads that someone has to die before they will do something about it. Surely we don’t want it to get to that.”
— Nicole Kearney

Ms Kearney said it was not only dangerous for residents, but for pedestrians and school children crossing the road.

It cost about $3000 to replace her fence each time but after the most recent two accidents, her insurance company is now refusing to insure the fence and had increased both her premiums and her excess.

In their recent meeting with Cr Carli Hannan, the BEsafestreets action group put forward a number of possible solutions, including expanding footpaths to provide natural barriers, speed humps, and reducing traffic in side streets.

Ms Kearney said a neighbour had recently described driving around the corner as like being on Grand Prix race track.

In addition to reinstating the metal barrier, she said one solution could be to alter the street so rather than a sweeping curve, it was made into a T-intersection with a 90-degree bend

“It would force them to slow down, but the way it is now, it encourages you to be a Formula One racing driver,” she said.

Blocking off the continuation of Albion Street to the Merri Creek could also improve safety for pedestrians, she said.

But the problem was neither the state government nor the council would take ownership of the problem.

“It’s an arterial road so the TAC and VicRoads have responsibility for the road while the council have responsibility for the footpath, so I get fobbed off by the council who say they can’t do anything about the road, and then the TAC say it’s not their issue to do anything about the footpath. So it’s really hard to find out whose responsibility it is to put back the barrier.”

Dr Read said he would be following up on the bend when the Victorian parliament next sat in May.

“If seven cars had ploughed into Parliament House I bet the response would be swift,” he said.

“This should be no different. It’s high time the state government took the concerns of these residents seriously. It’s a miracle no one has died here.”

Cr Carli Hannan did not respond to a request to comment for this article.

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