Call for road-safety action in Melkbos

Melkbosstrand residents say they want action from the City to prevent more accidents on roads in the area.

Melkbosstrand residents are calling for rumbling strips, speed humps and other measures to curb accidents on roads in the area.

Close to 2000 people have signed a petition to mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis to tackle road safety and lawlessness on a stretch of Otto du Plessis Drive from Blouberg Road to Sir David Baird Road.

The petition was started by Otto du Plessis Drive resident Kobus Vermeulen.

Mr Hill-Lewis told Tabletalk this week that he had not yet seen the petition, but he would send it to the urban mobility directorate once he had.

He said he was aware of a fatal motorcycle accident that had happened in the area a few weeks ago, but he did not give further details about it.

The City has a standing traffic-calming policy that prioritises traffic-calming measures near schools and community halls – with exceptions only made in extraordinary circumstances.

Ward 8 councillor and Bergdal Sub-council 2 chairwoman Marian Nieuwoudt wants this policy changed to allow for the wider use of traffic-calming measures, among other things. She first submitted a motion to this effect in the run-up to last year’s municipal elections, but has been pushing for it again since then.

“The current manner in which the conduct of vehicle drivers is being policed is ineffective, and risky driving behaviour is increasingly uncontrollable and taxis do as they wish,” Ms Nieuwoudt’s motion says.

Her motion recommends that the urban mobility portfolio committee “assesses and reformulate” the standing policy to include traffic-calming enforcement; that the policy be reviewed to include the excluded areas; stop streets be lined with rubber bollards to force vehicles to stop; and that a way be found for communities to submit new traffic-calming ideas for council’s approval.

Ms Nieuwoudt this week said the motion had not reached the portfolio committee yet, but she added that her concerns about bad driving and the need to protect pedestrians still stood.

She said her motion had been ill-timed as it had coincided with the elections and a new portfolio committee.

Mr Vermeulen’s petition accuses the City of stonewalling efforts to have the officials attend to the matter.

“Over the last two weeks, we have seen numerous crashes, of which one was fatal, and numerous serious injuries,” Mr Vermeulen’s petition says, adding: “We are calling on the City to immediately intervene. On this dangerous narrow road, speeding motorists share the road with pedestrians and cyclists.”

Ratepayer Cheryl Parker described 11th Avenue, where her son was involved in a car accident nine years ago, as “hell on wheels”. “I’ve been fighting for a circle or four-way stop ever since,” Ms Parker said.

Melkbosstrand Ratepayers’ Association chairwoman Smokie la Grange, who lives near the Koeberg power station, said the City’s traffic-assessment officials had visited the area five times but they had come during off-peak hours and so had not seen the true scale of the problem.

“If we call for traffic calming measures, I expect the City of Cape Town to say: ‘Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. What can we do?’ People die and when you see that in the front pages of newspapers, they’re going to say ‘sorry for your loss’, but apologies come too late,” Ms La Grange said.

Law enforcement was not visible and this vacuum had cultivated lawlessness on Melkbosstrand roads, she said.

Every new school in Parklands North had traffic circles, speed humps and/or rumble strips, but the 10-year-old Melkbosstrand High School had been ignored, she said.

Ms La Grange said local motorists increasingly ignored stop signs.

Melkbosstrand Neighbourhood Watch chairperson Rhine Barnes said: “Otto du Plessis Drive is rarely driven at the legal speed limit, and this also applies to Beach Road.”

The corner of Beach Road and of 11th Avenue were the most dangerous, he added.

“People have been knocked over at the (Melkbosstrand) intersection a number of times, but not much is being done to prevent this from happening again,” Mr Barnes said.

Eduard Fourie, the father of budding 15-year-old rugby talent Eduan, who was almost killed in a freak car accident in Melkbosstrand in mid-June, said he supported the calls for reforming the City’s traffic-calming policy.

A car rammed into another car and spun towards Eduan and two friends in mid-June. One friend died, while another recovered and has since been discharged from a local hospital.

Urban mobility mayoral committee member Rob Quintas said there were numerous requests for his office to consider speed-control measures. “However, this roadway (Otto du Plessis) is classified as a higher order mobility, which, in terms of the City’s traffic-calming policy, would not qualify for any raised traffic-calming measures as it carries a high volume of traffic and public-transport vehicles.”

He said the speed limit between the Dolphin Beach Hotel and Sir David Baird Drive would soon be reduced to 50km/h; a signage layout plan was being planned for this section by no later than mid-September; and there were no plans for traffic-calming measures on Otto du Plessis Drive.