Community seeks upgrade at Caringbah intersection where Danielle McGrath died

Collecting signatures: Rhonda Keys (left), Jamal Elferkh, Margaret Rogers, Silvana Manno, Josh Crowther, Sharon Kiss, Estelle Waterhouse, Paul Shacallis. Picture: John Veage

Collecting signatures: Rhonda Keys (left), Jamal Elferkh, Margaret Rogers, Silvana Manno, Josh Crowther, Sharon Kiss, Estelle Waterhouse, Paul Shacallis. Picture: John Veage

Danielle McGrath’s death has caused the community to rise up and demand better pedestrian safety at the Caringbah intersection where she lost her life.

Business owners are circulating a petition, which customers and clients have been quick to sign.

At the same time, many suggestions have been put to the Leader and Cronulla MP Mark Speakman on what changes should be made.

Mr Speakman said he thought the best idea so far was to stop traffic turning right from Port Hacking Road South into Kingsway, and, instead, diverting it into Mackay Street, with a right turn at Banksia Road near the railway line.

This would also improve traffic flow through the CBD, he said.

Mr Speakman said he was keen to put the idea to Roads Minister Duncan Gay, but would await the views of the Sutherland Traffic Committee, which meets on December 2.

Other suggestions range from a speed camera and reduced speed limit in the area to banning B-doubles from back streets.

Trucks ban proposed: Jix Michels, who witnessed the accident, says if safety improvements are made, Ms McGrath's death won't be in vain. Picture: Chris Lane

Trucks ban proposed: Jix Michels, who witnessed the accident, says if safety improvements are made, Ms McGrath's death won't be in vain. Picture: Chris Lane

Builder Jix Michels, who went to Ms McGrath’s aid after the accident, said a group of school students was waiting to cross behind her.

Mr Michels proposed a safety measure for trucks and trailers and also advocated banning big trucks from certain areas during school hours, which he said happened in some countries.

Business people who gathered to promote the petition included Sharon Kiss and Estelle Waterhouse, of Aussie Home Loans, Paul Shacallis, of Caringbah Hotel, Rhonda Keys, of Centre Court Hair Design, Jamal Elferkh, of Eddye's Menswear, Silvana Manno, of Silvana’s Hair Salon, Josh Crowther, of Perera Crowther Lending Solutions and resident Margaret Rogers.

The petition, which can be signed at more than a dozen shops and other businesses,  says Ms McGrath’s death was the second at the same location in six years.

”We see near accidents on a daily basis and would like the state minister responsible for roads to urgently look into increasing the duration given to pedestrians crossing Kingsway,” the petition says.

“The green ‘walk’ signal allows pedestrians to cross only half way before the red arrow ceases, thereby placing pedestrians who are still on the crossing at risk.

“It is when this occurs that many motorists often weave between pedestrians still on the crossing when turning right from Port Hacking Road South on to Kingsway and left from Mackay Street on to Kingsway.

“Another idea is, at pedestrian peak hours, all traffic stops to allow diagonal crossing.”

Sharon Kiss said she and her husband Peter were “horrified” at what they had seen in the eight years they had been operating Aussie Home Loans.

Estelle Waterhouse, who also works in that office, said, “All day, every day, there are cars beeping, impatience and near accidents”.

Con Taska, of Something for Everyone said he gathered more than 130 signatures in about three days.

Jamal Elferkh said the day after the fatal accident, she saw a car just miss a woman with her granddaughter on the Mackay Street crossing.

“I had to cover my eyes,” she said.

Magaret Rogers said, “Cars go in front of me and behind me when I cross”

“I cross my arms and try to explain ‘I can’t run’,” she said.

Josh Crowther said, “Every afternoon when you leave work, you see something”.

Paul Shacallis, licensee of Caringbah Hotel, said the tragedy had “touched the hearts of the whole community” and had been a focal point for patrons and visitors.

“I think Caringbah has major traffic and pedestrian issues,” he said.

Vision Australia supported any move to improve pedestrian safety, regional manager Jodie Cox said.

Ms Cox said staff, clients and volunteers attending the Caringbah centre should “be able to come and go safely”.

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