Elizabeth Street tram works / #RoadMorons invade the Bourke Street Mall

    Works on the new Elizabeth Street tram platform stops are going full steam ahead. This is significant, because with the rollout of the new E-class trams onto route 96, it’s expected some low-floor trams will be available for the first time on Elizabeth Street, at last providing accessible services from the CBD to the Hospital Precinct. (You’d think this would have been prioritised before, wouldn’t you?)

    Elizabeth St tram works

    Traders might be complaining about it, but there was no shortage of people around yesterday at lunchtime, and while noise and roadworks may be an inconvenience, it’s not as if the local shops don’t benefit from their location next to one of Melbourne’s busiest tram streets.

    As I looked around the western end of the Bourke Street Mall, I noted this car coming along.

    Bourke Street Mall, car comes into tram stop

    Dear oh dear. #DumbWaysToDrive

    Between two trams, it stopped in the tram stop, unable to go back because of trams behind it, unable to go forward because the road was closed up ahead.

    To the amusement of bystanders, it was directed by Yarra Trams staff to do a clumsy three-point turn, nearly colliding with several pedestrians and the tram behind it.

    Unbelievable. #DumbWaysToDrive #RoadMorons

    Car making a 3-point turn between tram platforms, Bourke Street Mall

    Only a minute or two later, another car came into the tram stop. This one being a four-wheel drive, the staff present decided to let it go ahead over the unmade road surface to escape.

    Another one! Where are they coming from?! #DumbWaysToDrive #RoadMorons

    Ignoring the signs. All the many signs.

    Where do these clowns come from? There was no evidence they’d been involved in delivering to shops in the Mall.

    Some might claim the signage around the place is not sufficient, but you’ll note that these drivers first had to ignore the signs entering Swanston Street (or Bourke Street from Russell Street):
    Eastbound Collins St at Swanston St

    In Swanston Street from the south there are more signs directing you to U-turn before getting to the intersection with Bourke Street:
    Northbound Swanston St approaching Bourke St

    From the north there are signs telling you not to drive through the tram stop:
    Southbound Swanston St at Little Bourke St

    Another set of signs clearly say No Entry into the Mall, except if you’ve got a specific permit:
    Westbound Bourke St at Swanston St

    Yet another set of signs add that you shouldn’t drive through the tram stop at the western end.

    So it’s not just a case of “I didn’t see the signs”, it’s a case of not seeing (or ignoring) three or four separate sets of signs.

    Central section of Bourke Street has been a pedestrian mall since 1983. For that matter, Swanston Street has been restricted to traffic in daylight hours since 1992. I’d have thought at least drivers from the Melbourne area should have got an inkling of the restrictions in these areas by now.

    Oh well, it’s nice to know that occasionally people do get told off for driving where they shouldn’t. This pic from a few months ago:

    Bourke Street near Swanston Street

    …in fact, Marcus Wong snapped some motorists in the Mall around 4pm yesterday getting a ticking-off from police.

    Update 1:30pm: What the heck, more pictures added.

If east-west traffic is so critical, why does the M1 only provide 2 through lanes each way?

The government argues that cross-city traffic is so critical that the they want to (without a mandate) spend $8 billion building just the first phase of the East-West tunnel.

If that’s the case, then why does the newly remodelled (2008-2010) M1 corridor only provide two lanes in each direction for those cross-city trips?

Eastbound (coming off the Westgate bridge, towards the Burnley tunnel):
M1 Eastbound signage - only 2 lanes through to east

Westbound (coming out of the Domain tunnel, towards the Westgate Bridge):
M1 Westbound signage - only two lanes through to west

…and another westbound view from a bit further on, where the lanes merge down to two:
M1 Westbound - only two lanes through to west

These pictures are all from Google Streetview, and actually show the freeway towards the end of the modifications… I’ve checked, and this is how it is today.

Road designers aren’t idiots. When they do massive remodelling like this to re-organise the lanes, they look at traffic flows. The Westgate bridge is now 5 lanes in each direction, and the Citylink tunnels are 3 each, but there are only 2 through lanes each way.

That leaves the conclusion that the traffic going from the east to the west and vice-versa is only a small proportion of the total traffic, particularly compared to numbers going over the Westgate.

Update Tuesday: I’ve had some feedback on this post (not via comments) to the effect that some thing this is twisting the truth, because various lanes leave and join the motorway along its length, so the total number of lanes at any one point is always more than 2. That’s true, but my point is that (particularly in congested conditions), the capacity of the M1 for east to west cross-city traffic is heavily influenced by the number of lanes that go all the way through… and this is only two lanes each way.

One person also pointed out an additional lane is available westbound via the Todd Road exit and the service station… but I would think it’s unlikely many drivers going from the east to the west would use this — plus I think it involves a merge with traffic from Kingsway and another from the Bolte Bridge southbound.

Why is Metro allowing this advertising in its stations? – part 2 – Kia #comfortisethis

A couple of years ago I wrote about Nissan Micra ads at Flinders Street Station directly criticising public transport.

This time, it’s Kia’s turn, though it’s a little less overt. Spotted at Malvern (as well as other locations, such as South Yarra):

Kia advertising at Malvern station

You know, I’ve been using public transport for decades. I’ve seen people asleep, but I’ve never, ever had someone fall asleep on my shoulder. Does it really happen, or is it just a cliché?

Kia advertising at Malvern station

I suppose this is not necessarily poking fun at walking as a form of transport, but it could be read that way.

It does strike me that getting a plastic bag caught on your heel may be an “uncomfortable moment”, but on the other hand, research indicates that driving in unsuitable shoes such as these is just plain dangerous:

Adrienne Savoy, a driving instructor for DriversEd.com, said the higher the heel, the more a person is in danger.

“When you’re wearing high heels, it’s nearly impossible for the heel to stay steady on top of the mat, which would delay the reaction time between the accelerator and the brake. Sometimes you only have a second to react, so that could be a split second you have to prevent a crash,” she said.

Even for those of us who never wear heels, we know that travelling by public transport is an order of magnitude safer than driving.

I think I’d rather be uncomfortable than unsafe.

Motorists in pedestrian areas – is there something about No Entry they don’t understand? #RoadMorons

Some of those of us who hang around the city are truly amazed at the number of motorists who ignore the “No Entry” and turn ban signs and drive along streets they’re not meant to.

So it’s nice to know that — just occasionally — they do get pulled over by the police.

Bourke Street near Swanston Street (1/3)

Bourke Street near Swanston Street (2/3)

Bourke Street near Swanston Street (3/3)

Unfortunately others seem to get away with it scot free — and it’s unclear to me why police seem to be less keen to catch people driving through pedestrianised areas than they are to book jaywalkers.

This bloke not only ignored the No Entry signs when turning into the street, he went past multiple signs telling him to do a U-turn before this intersection, then when rightly faced with more No Entry signs, initially looked confused, then took the most-pedestrianised street (the one that even bans bicycles), the Bourke Street Mall.

Swanston St/Bourke St Mall (1/3)

Swanston St/Bourke St Mall (2/3)

Swanston St/Bourke St Mall (3/3)

Want roadside assistance but don’t want to fund RACV’s lobbying? Plenty of alternatives – cheaper too

This has come up again since RACV are resisting the removal of a lane of traffic on Princes Bridge to give cyclists more than the part of a busy footpath and the mere sliver of roadspace they have now:

What alternatives are there to RACV road service? Because if you disagree with the RACV’s stance on transport issues, why help fund their lobbying?

Cyclists on Princes Bridge

With thanks to Brad McCluskey, combined with a previous list of mine, here are some contenders (quoting their basic plans, which I suspect is what many would want as a basic safety-net), and the annual fee:

For comparison, RACV roadside care costs from $92.

Also some companies offer breakdown assistance on a per-job basis, with no joining fee. It could be cheaper if you very rarely need to call, but it could be expensive if you use them regularly:

Are there any others?

I’ve been signed up to 24/7 Road Services now for some years, but have never had to actually call them.

RACV being the biggest, probably have the most assistance vans, but also might be busier and slower at peak times to respond. I have seen a lot of Allianz vans around recently. Perhaps they just have a more eye-catching design than most. Have people tried some of these alternatives?

Always check the fine print of course. Some companies won’t sign you up to an annual plan if your car is too old. Some plans limit the number of callouts you can make and/or have different tiers of service plan. And some have limited or no coverage outside metropolitan Melbourne.

#RoadMorons Award Of The Week goes to…

…this person, who ignored the convention to keep left of the white line in Flinders Lane, and came up against this tram coming around the corner.

Friday lunchtime: eastbound tram meets westbound car

The tram actually had a fair pace making the turn — luckily it stopped in time to prevent a collision.

The motorist backed out of the lane, and hopefully learnt a lesson.

The car backs into the correct lane, and the tram continues on

1 in 6 have challenges just getting down the street. Don’t block the footpath.

In an ABS survey in 2009, 4.0 million people (18.5% of the population) reported having a disability.

Of people with a disability, Mobility aids used by about 15% of them.

Car blocking footpath #RoadMorons

So about 600,000 people nationwide use mobility aids of some kind: walking sticks, walking frames, wheelchairs.

Additionally, the 2011 Census says there are 1,457,571 people aged under 5. Let’s assume that all of these kids either ride in a pram pushed by a parent, or walk under close supervision with a parent, eg another 1,457,571.

And let’s ignore for a moment that some of the 600,000 people who use mobility aids are aged under 5, or supervising those under 5.

What we get is that perhaps around three and a half million people (about 1 in 6) in Australia have some challenges with simply walking down the street.

They need two things to help get around their neighbourhood.

Firstly they need adequate footpaths provided by councils and road authorities. This means both sides of the street, built with proper drainage, and designed for minimising journey distances, rather than taking long detours to get places. Adequate road crossing places also need to be provided — responsive traffic lights, pedestrian refuges (islands) and so on.

And secondly, they need people to not block the footpaths with their motor vehicles. To do so is the ultimate in arrogance and thoughtlessness for three and a half million of your fellow citizens. Yet I see it continually when walking. It’s high time there was a crackdown on it.

Personally, in the last few months I’ve left several polite but firm notes around my neighbourhood on repeat offending vehicles — they seem to work, and it’s probably easier than trying to convince the council or police to do something about it (though pleasingly, it does sometimes happen).

Fast cars

I was trying to get some photos and/or video for a blog post I’m writing. I’m having trouble finding a source for part of the post, so in the meantime here’s a snippet of video from the pedestrian overpass above the Nepean Highway at Moorabbin.

I might be wrong, but it does appear to me that there’s more than one rev head in amongst this lot. But I’d be reluctant to estimate how fast they were going. Any guesses?

I wonder if they realised they were passing Moorabbin Police station?