Today I speak on an urgent matter of road and pedestrian safety. The road in question is none other than Forest Way, which carries and connects us all on the northern beaches.
Unfortunately, the road has also been a source of growing community concern, particularly a section commencing at Wearden Road in the north to Bowman Avenue in the south in the suburb of Belrose. Forest Way is six lanes wide. It is a very busy thoroughfare for vehicles, buses and trucks, which are often hurtling along it above the 70 kilometre per hour speed limit. I wholeheartedly agree with concerned residents who have written and spoken to me about the issue.
That section of Forest Way is a disaster waiting to happen, so why wait? In the past five years alone, there have been eight recorded vehicle accidents—eight accidents that resulted in pain and injury. They include a shocking incident just last Sunday when a van overturned and landed on the pedestrian footpath. They do not include the many unreported near misses that members of the community have told me about and which I will briefly talk to later. Thankfully no serious injuries or fatalities occurred on Sunday. However, I ask members to take a moment to think about different circumstances. What if it did not happen on a Sunday? What if it was during a busy school pick‑up and drop‑off? What if it was just any weekday, busy with schoolkids and parents around, completely unprotected? It is by asking these what-ifs that we can see the urgent need to implement preventative measures to avoid catastrophe.
I have met with concerned residents and visited that section of Forest Way. I was shocked to see school students get off the bus and then cross six lanes of fast‑moving traffic. Seven schools use the bus stop along that section of the road. The median strip is a typical narrow concrete one. Seeing how dangerous it actually is makes you wince. Kids with bulky backpacks are stuck on a very narrow median strip as buses, trucks and cars whiz past at full throttle. And there have not just been near misses. I met with a constituent whose child had been struck by a car on that section of Forest Way. Another child was also recently hit by a vehicle. It makes your stomach churn to learn about another incident in which a very young child fell off their bike onto the footpath and the road. The child was pulled out of the way by their parent milliseconds before a bus went past. Just milliseconds—that was the difference between a near miss and an unimaginable tragedy.
The incident was raised with me and the member for Davidson by a very concerned constituent. It was unreported, other than to us MPs. We have to ask ourselves: How many near misses go unreported? They are reminders that the situation is far more dire than statistics alone can ever reveal. We cannot afford to wait any longer. The stark reality is that, unless we take decisive action to upgrade pedestrian safety along that section of Forest Way, it is merely a matter of time before tragedy strikes. I have written to the roads Minister with a request to meet, to implore him and the New South Wales Government to recognise the impending catastrophes. I am requesting that the Government take necessary steps to ensure the safety of our constituents. I do this in collaboration with local residents, Northern Beaches Council and the good member for Davidson, whose electorate also borders parts of Forest Way. I thank the member for Davidson for his attention and shared concern in the matter. I also thank the Minister in advance for the care and attention that I am sure he will give to the issue. I look forward to discussing it further at length with him.
The situation calls for a collaborative, bipartisan approach. We have a shared goal: a safer Forest Way for all. It is not a mere matter of convenience; it is a matter of life and death. My simple yet vital ask is that we upgrade pedestrian safety along the section of Forest Way between Wearden Road and Bowman Avenue in Belrose by installing pedestrian safety railings along both sides of Forest Way; implementing a 40 kilometre per hour school zone; reviewing the traffic lights at the Glen Street and Forest Way intersection; and, most importantly, constructing a pedestrian overpass. The need for an overpass is supported by the Northern Beaches Council and local residents. A community petition has close to 600 signatures already and is growing. I thank everyone in the community who is sharing their voice on this pressing issue. I conclude by reiterating the urgency. We know enough. We have the foresight on the tragedies that will occur, and are likely to occur sooner rather than later, if we stand by or waste more time. The Government must act now.