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?)
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.
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.
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.
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):
In Swanston Street from the south there are more signs directing you to U-turn before getting to the intersection with Bourke Street:
From the north there are signs telling you not to drive through the tram stop:
Another set of signs clearly say No Entry into the Mall, except if you’ve got a specific permit:
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:
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.
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.
It was only on a whim I decided to film as I alighted the tram. The car driver was apologetic, but this ignorance of the law around giving way to passengers has gone on far too long. It’s a serious issue — just last week a girl was injured in Camberwell.
Years ago the government was talking about trialling tram cams, to catch motorists failing to give way. Nothing came of it. With video cameras now ubiquitous in mobile phones, perhaps it’s time passengers started filming it for themselves.
Even if you drive a Mercedes, you have to stop for tram passengers.
You must stop level with the rear of a tram at a tram stop until the doors close and passengers have cleared the road, you may then proceed but must not exceed 10km/h while passing the tram.
Time: about 9:10pm, last night. Location: Chapel Street, South Yarra, corner of Toorak Road, southbound on tram route 79 — along with the adjacent eastbound route 8 stop, one of the few stops I can think of where tram passengers have to negotiate two lanes of traffic to get to the kerb.
I wouldn’t say I or anybody else was in mortal danger here. But the potential is there. It’s hard to say if the Mercedes driver didn’t know the rules, or wilfully ignored them.
It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that it’s simply easier to forget to stop when you’re not in the lane immediate adjacent to the tram — not that that’s a valid excuse — especially as the presence of all those people crossing the road to board should have prompted her.
One can only hope that stops like this are on the priority list for upgrades to platform stops which would remove this threat.
(Why did I have the camera running? Well something like this wasn’t too hard to predict; a few minutes beforehand, I tweeted: On a 79. Will shortly risk Death By Careless Motorist by alighting at Toorak Road, where IIRC there’s two lanes of traffic plus tram’s lane.)
About an hour ago at Highett station: the train to Frankston had just left, and a city-bound train was approaching.
This idiot cyclist rode across in front of the city-bound train. The train driver tooted his horn loud and long. The cyclist entered the station, and appeared to want to catch the train — I’d be surprised if the driver didn’t verbally berate the cyclist over the PA.
(Ironically both the Google Streetview car and another vehicle can be seen driving through the tram stop — though the other vehicle is a loaded ute which parks in the Bourke Street Mall, so it may have had permission to be there, where some exceptions apply, though this does not appear to be the case for the Bourke/Swanston tram stop.)
I suspect the answer here is the City of Melbourne needs to close Bourke Street to vehicles all the way up to Russell Street; or at least ban motor vehicles from entering and heading westbound (but allow them to leave eastbound eg if they’ve come via Royal Lane or Russell Place.