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Rat runs raise safety fears on back streets
Rat runs raise safety fears on back streets

Perth's growing traffic congestion has spilled over into small suburban streets as motorists search out peak-hour shortcuts known as "rat runs".

Rat runs have sprung up all over the metropolitan area, putting pressure on streets that were not built to handle large volumes of traffic.

They have also raised safety concerns, with some residents demanding that previously quiet streets be closed to rat-run traffic or made safe by the installation of speed bumps or roundabouts.

WA Local Government Association president Troy Pickard said councils could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on improving rat-run streets but the focus needed to be on making arterial roads more efficient.

"If we can get the arterial roads working effectively and flowing as efficiently as possible, there would be no reason for motorists to look for shortcuts," Mr Pickard said.

Shadow transport minister Ken Travers said the growth of rat runs was a symptom of Perth's traffic congestion crisis.

"Traffic congestion in Perth has got very bad, very quickly," Mr Travers said. "It is inevitable that it is going to spread into more streets and more suburbs.

"That is why it is so urgent that we do more to encourage the use of alternative forms of transport, including public transport, cycling and walking."

Transport Minister Troy Buswell said safe and efficient arterial roads were a priority of the State Government, with major upgrades across the metropolitan area completed, started or planned.

These include significant works on the Mitchell and Kwinana freeways, upgrades on two major interchanges on Reid Highway and a major upgrade of Great Eastern Highway.

Rat runs range in size from major routes to avoid freeway gridlock to small shortcuts to miss congested intersections.

In Henley Brook, motorists have begun using Robert Street to avoid the morning build-up of traffic at the corner of Gnangara and West Swan roads.

Robert Street resident Michelle Gilyead said the narrow road was now unsafe for children walking or riding their bikes to school.

Motorists are also using Geddes Street in Victoria Park to move between Albany Highway and Berwick Street and avoid congestion in the run across the Causeway.

Also in eastern suburbs, motorists are using Newburn Road in High Wycombe to avoid Roe Highway and Sevenoaks Street in Cannington to avoid the mayhem on Albany Highway near Carousel shopping centre.

In the southern suburbs, City of Cockburn councillor Steven Portelli said traffic from Roe Highway had contributed to Kwinana Freeway congestion and created many parallel rat runs, including Wentworth Parade, Hammond Road, Karel Avenue and Farrington Road.

In the northern suburbs, motorists are using Lenore and Franklin roads in Wanneroo to avoid Wanneroo Road and Fairway Circle to avoid the build-up of traffic at the Mitchell Freeway entry on Shenton Avenue in Connolly.