Keiraville's avenue of tight squeezes

Wayne Venables, Bevan Ferguson, Freya Ferguson, Gayle Venables, Colin Harmer, Maree Cooney, Charles Wilkinson 
and  Felix Bronneberg stand in Harkness St. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Wayne Venables, Bevan Ferguson, Freya Ferguson, Gayle Venables, Colin Harmer, Maree Cooney, Charles Wilkinson and Felix Bronneberg stand in Harkness St. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Keiraville residents fed up with traffic and parking congestion have added Harkness Avenue to their list of trouble spots, despite Wollongong City Council's continued refusal to take action on the problem.

Several days a week university students are clogging up Harkness Avenue, parking on both sides of the road and often within 10 metres of the intersection, turning it into a one-way street.

For Keiraville resident Wayne Venables, who uses the road, the congestion means he often comes bonnet to bonnet with cars travelling the opposite direction and is forced to manoeuvre out of the way.

"When the street's blocked up on both sides and you're travelling west, there's nowhere for you to go if you meet someone coming the other way," Mr Venables said.

"If you meet somebody and you've got to back up, you've got to back out on to Robsons Road through a stop sign.

"I met a bloke the other day who didn't want to back up ... I stayed there because I had two cars behind me at that point and he could've pulled into a driveway [yet] the council doesn't see the problem."

It is a common problem according to resident David Harmer, who was so concerned about the safety of drivers and children who play at the Harkness Avenue park he contacted the council and University of Wollongong.

Council traffic engineer Lindsay Dunstan said it was "not unusual" for urban roads to be reduced to one-way traffic because of parking and that the council was reluctant to remove any street parking "because of the impact on residents and their visitors".

"The sight distances on the length of street affected are good. If drivers take care and behave in a courteous way, there should be a low risk of traffic incidents," Mr Dunstan emailed in response to Mr Harmer's complaint.

He also urged residents to report illegally parked cars to council rangers.

A response from the University of Wollongong's Tom Hunt outlined several ways to reduce congestion in the area - encouraging car-pooling, cycling and using public transport - and he will raise the issue with the council.

Mr Harmer said he was unsure why the council could not erect signage near the intersection and restrict parking to one side of the street, as in Georgina Avenue.

"Council said you should do it carefully and courteously - and there's some truth in that - but there's times when it's backed so far up Harkness ... there is the possibility of an accident because you almost have to turn blind," he said.

Parking congestion in Harkness Avenue is one of several problems leading to complaints raised by Keiraville and Gwynneville residents in recent months, including pedestrian safety concerns in Robsons Road, traffic congestion in Gipps Road at school pick-up time and residents being unable to park in their own streets.

Despite this, the council has refused to budge on its decision to withhold funding for a crucial traffic study of the area in the 2014-2015 budget year.

In May, the Mercury revealed council had issued more than $85,000 worth of fines in Keiraville alone in the past year and some 5583 throughout the small suburb in total.

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