Saturday, 7 April 2012

Small steps

I have some ideas about how to improve our walking life. Quite a few relate to design elements in the urban environment and the way infrastructure is designed around the car. I will get to them soon.

Dealing with government departments can be a frustrating process. I have no real news to report about the Southport Street crossing that I highlighted in my previous post. I am waiting for the local council to look at the issue and give me their thoughts.

Some good news. We do not always have to deal with government agencies and sometimes it is the small things that we can all do that will make a difference.

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Bethesda Hospital in Claremont. This is a private non-profit hospital that is associated with the Church of Christ. It is very modern and its most recent redevelopment was completed in 2006. My first impressions of the interior are that it is quite impressive. It feels more like a hotel than a hospital. However the exterior is disappointing for a modern design.

They expect to you to arrive by car. This is clearly evident in the layout. The main entry does not have a footpath. It is vehicles-only, “in” and “out”. If you look carefully you may spot the gap in the hedge which is the pedestrian entry located several metres to the north of the logical entry. It appears to be an afterthought in the design because once you go through the gap you are immediately thrust into a car park and there is no footpath to the door. The pedestrian entry has been created by removing one car-parking space and making a hole in the fence.

All this is not a major problem. As pedestrians, we have to deal with this sort of car-orientated design every day of the week. However there was one problem that I noticed and felt compelled to address. There was a footpath crossing the main entry driveway and the hospital’s garden was obscuring the view of any pedestrian walking on the path. It was a blind corner. 

The pedestrians and motorists would not be able to see each other until the last second before a collision. The most frequent pedestrians are children from Christ Church Grammar School next door.

I gave the hospital a call and explained the situation to the receptionist. I was not sure they would do anything but a week or so later the offending hibiscus had been removed and the sight lines have been substantially improved.

Thank you Bethesda Hospital.