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.
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.
Heading south along William Street in morning peak hour, fighting for space on the street, are pedestrians (predominantly coming out of Flagstaff station), trams, cyclists and motorists.
How many of each?
Tram route 55 gets a tram about every 4 minutes in peak hour. The May 2012 PTV load survey said that each tram carries an average of 78.6 people between 8am and 9am southbound (actually measured slightly north from this point), making about 1179 people per hour.
Motorists: Vicroads network performance monitoring figures may or may not be of relevance to this specific street, but show that the arterial road average across Melbourne in AM peak is a bit under 800 people per hour. William Street southbound is only one lane, so let’s use that figure.
Cyclists? Dunno. I see quite a few heading up and down in peak, but the Bicycle Network “Super Tuesday” count doesn’t seem to publicly publish anything useful from the enormous amount of data they collect. Shame. In the absence of other figures, let me take a wild guess at 200 in the busiest hour.
The bike lanes aren’t properly configured. They fizzle-out in places, and around Little Bourke Street (southbound), cyclists often either have to squeeze between cars, or wait for them to shift.
If you assume the footpaths are roughly the same width as each tram/traffic/parking lane, and the bike lanes are half that width, what do you get?
|Mode||% people||% road space|
The most over-allocated, least efficient mode here is obviously motor vehicles — in part because they are allocated two lanes but one (at least in AM peak) is wasted on parking.
Meanwhile the footpaths get so crowded that many people simply walk on the road. In this terribly fuzzy mobile phone footage, you can see a bloke in a wheelchair give up on the footpath and take-off across the road for the other side:
(Note: it is perfectly legal to cross the road anywhere that is more than 20 metres from a pedestrian crossing.)
What could they do?
They could widen the footpath at the expense of car parking, particularly on the super-busy western side of the street. In the busiest section between Bourke Street and Flagstaff station that’s probably losing about 20 car spots. You’d lose a traffic lane in PM peak, but so what? Traffic is at a standstill now — it would still be at a standstill. If delays got longer, fewer people would drive.
They could install full time bike lanes all the way down. It’s crazy that cyclists get stuck behind cars.
Better enforcement of motorists blocking intersections; you see this every peak hour. (Could be a money-spinner for a cash-strapped government, in fact.)
And more fare gates at Flagstaff could ease congestion there, particularly in morning peak.
Ultimately, the station and trains are the most efficient mode available for getting large numbers of people into and out of the CBD. It already does this very well, but making the area more efficient and safer for pedestrians is vital.
Update: The video keeps disappearing out of this post — possible WordPress bug? The direct link is here.
Update 12:30pm: Someone anonymously sent me a link to what looks like it should be a Bicycle Network page with detailed stats, but it doesn’t work. The region or state specified is invalid
The new 40 kmh limit now applies along Centre Road in Bentleigh, 7am to 7pm, every day.
This is good news, particularly as earlier this year it appeared the plan was for it not to apply on Sundays — one of the busiest shopping days.
It’s official recognition that the street is not just for the benefit of motorists.
And it’ll improve safety, and help make the neighbourhood more walkable, as well as assisting public transport interchange, for instance for those changing between trains and westbound 703 buses (for whom there is no convenient pedestrian crossing).
Intriguingly, they also seem to have changed the traffic lights at Jasper/Centre Roads to activate the green man automatically — and not just on Saturdays.
That’s a good move too, a positive for pedestrians (previously one could just miss the lights and have to wait longer) — all these changes appear to be a reflection of the VicRoads “SmartRoads” strategy kicking in… it flags this area as prioritising pedestrians and buses.
Last week the first of the new Swanston Street tram superstops opened. On Monday I went down at lunchtime to have a look, and came across Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, City of Melbourne planner Rob Adams, and Yarra Trams’ Michel Masson all down there having a look, and talking to the media about it.
It’s good to see this space finally being rid of cars, and the priority given to the main users of Swanston Street — pedestrians, tram passengers, and cyclists. And of course it’s great to get some more accessible tram stops in the CBD — the first for Swanston Street that are actually within the Hoddle Grid.
During the first couple of weeks, they’ve got people dressed as lifeguards and umpires etc using some humour to direct people to the right spots.
This is important because the space needs to deal with tram passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Thankfully motorists are (theoretically) out of the equation, though at one stage I observed a motorcyclist unwittingly ride in.
The real problems here are that (a) they’re a unique design — in fact one keen observer reckons they’re unique in the world –and (b) they’re not intuitive.
For pedestrians, it’s simply not obvious that the space where you board the trams is not where you should walk along. For cyclists it’s a little clearer where they should be, and from what I saw, they seemed to realise they needed to stop and give way to passengers getting on and off trams.
I haven’t been there at the relevant times, but I’m particularly curious to see what happens when large numbers of tram users getting on and off (such as during the University peaks) intersect with large numbers of cyclists.
Even after adding small “bicycle” markings onto the bike lane, pedestrians and passengers seem confused. Maybe they’ll learn, but it will take some getting used to — something acknowledged by Masson and Doyle (and Adams I assume). I’d expect some further tweaking, but I doubt there’ll be any major re-design any time soon.
Like anything else, it requires the critical mass of people to know how to use them, and then (most) visitors will hopefully just follow everybody else. Whether this will happen, only time will tell.
And in the mean time, work will begin on the next two stops, further south.
There you go; the RACV said again yesterday (as they have done in the past) that the $1.4 billion M1/Westgate Bridge upgrade (including the new lanes opened yesterday) will be swamped within a decade.
Brian Negus, of the RACV, welcomed the opening of the fifth lane. It was the final link in the freeway corridor so it would relieve the frustrating congestion, he said.
Within eight to 10 years, the West Gate would once again be struggling to handle the number of cars using it daily, Mr Negus said.
So, it’s another example of induced traffic: when you expand a road, traffic grows to fill it.
(And ironically this 25% expansion in bridge capacity came a couple of months after Williamstown and Altona Loop trains reduced peak hour frequencies from every 20 minutes to every 22 minutes, in an attempt to boost punctuality. Meanwhile buses in the fast-growing Werribee area remain at mostly every 40 minutes, with station car parks packed, so accessing public transport is difficult for many residents.)
Transport Minister Terry Mulder recently said “we can’t build our way out of congestion”. Department of Transport Secretary Jim Betts said the same thing yesterday.
Apparently RACV still believes you can… even though it’s never actually worked.
The RACV continues to argue for the north-east freeway (through Banyule Flats, or further east) and the east-west tunnel (under Carlton). If you are an RACV member and you disagree with more motorway expansion, you should let them know. And if you’re only a member for the roadside assistance, you should know there are other organisations offering that service which don’t lobby (at least overtly) for more motorways. (And it’s often cheaper than RACV.)
(Pic: from the ABC’s Ryan Sheales on Twitter)
Spotted around the RACV centre in Bourke Street…
I’m not sure what these things are called. They’re from the days before traffic lights — before my time. The only problem with these ones is that two directions are getting a green signal at once, which would result in a crash.
This street sign looks a little different. Ah, you see the footnote on it? “Private lane”. Presumably this is because it leads only to the RACV’s carpark, and is on RACV property. But it may have legal implications as well — at a conventional street corner, traffic coming into the side street needs to give way to pedestrians crossing it, but coming out doesn’t. I reckon if it’s a private lane, then like at a car park entrance, traffic needs to give way in both directions.
It’s nice to know that right from the start, freeways have shown a consistent effectiveness for solving traffic problems:
Thus, the South Eastern Freeway was announced in 1958 as the first urban freeway in Victoria – the MMBW stating that it would provide a “clear run of four lanes” …
The four-lane freeway was completed from Punt Road to Burnley St, Burnley, in 1962 and received the F-80 route marker from Swan Street to MacRobertson Bridge (Grange Rd) in 1965.
Despite being constructed primarily to relieve local congestion in Alexandra Avenue, traffic conditions in the area generally worsened.
– Main Roads Victoria web site, citing Max Lay’s Melbourne Miles, The Story of Melbourne’s Roads (emphasis added)
The rest of the article is fascinating for how it describes the “salami tactics” (slice by slice) that brought about completion of the Monash Freeway, bit by bit over several decades, eventually just as its original designers intended.
Meanwhile in Dingley
Now just like the Monash before it, the F2 — uhh, I mean the Dingley Arterial is resuming its “salami tactics” creep towards freeway status. The government has announced what sounds like a widening of the South Road Extension.
Mr Pallas said the Government would direct new funding of $20 million into planning for the 6.4 kilometre four lane arterial road from Warrigal Road in Moorabbin to Westall Road in Springvale South.
This should be no big surprise. The South Road Extension is already suspiciously freeway-like, despite having been built as single-carriageway. As a rule, not many Melbourne arterial roads have sound barriers, no intersections to local streets, off-road bike paths, and pedestrian underpasses.
Of course, the other thing that freeways have is grade-separated overpasses instead of traffic lights.
“Following community consultation, significant improvements have been made to the original proposals with an overpass of Cheltenham Road now planned in place of an intersection and traffic signals,” she [Member for Mordialloc, Janice Munt] said.
Yep, there you go. I won’t be too surprised when other intersections follow. Shame railway level crossing grade separations don’t happen so easily.
More salami, anyone?
Via Google’s archive of The Age, I found this, the 1969 freeway plan for Melbourne, with 1974 modifications (including a number of cuts).
It’s a little bit stylised, but according to the article, the plan was deliberately vague about which inner-suburban areas were to be demolished.
A monstrous plan, you might think. Freeways everywhere! But this didn’t all get built though, did it?
Oh yes it did. Well, most of it did — if not as freeways, then as road widening schemes (which also results in lots of houses being demolished, though not quite as many).
The northern section of the F2 got built as the Hume Freeway. It doesn’t extend down through Coburg, Clifton Hill and Richmond, but Hoddle Street has been steadily widened, and is Melbourne’s best-known traffic sewer, and they’re now talking about the possibility of grade-separating it, turning it into a pseudo-freeway.
I suspect the southern section of the F2 was intended to be Punt Road/Nepean Highway/South Road. Since then, much of that has been widened to 8 lanes plus service lanes, and as I recall, VicRoads still owns a row of houses along Punt Road for future widening. The outer-SE section is the suspiciously freeway-like South Road extension, and the Dingley Arterial, part of which is now under construction.
The F3 is the Western Ring Road.
F4 probably would have gone along Bell Street, much of which is now 6 lanes.
Part of the F5 has been built as the Northern Ring Road.
The northern part of the F6 hasn’t happened. The southern section is the Mornington Peninsula Freeway, and the Peninsula Link project (which last week bulldozed its way through part of the heritage-listed Westerfields estate).
The northern part of the F7 (or the F18) is still on the drawing board as the so-called “missing link”, to go through the Banyule Flats. (It’s “missing” because they went and built the rest of it, knowing that bit would be “missing”). The southern section would, I think, have included the very freeway-like Westall Road Extension.
The outer-eastern part of the F9 is the Healesville freeway, which was never built, but is still shown in the Melways as a proposed freeway launching itself from Springvale Road in Forest Hill, with a massive interchange with Eastlink in Wantirna. The inner section is the Citylink Burnley and Domain tunnels, as well as the Westgate Freeway.
The F12 looks to have been an upgrade of the Western Highway, but instead has morphed into the Deer Park bypass. The inner section was supposedly scrapped, but is back on the drawing board as “Westlink”, with today’s Age noting that it is the first stage of a larger road project first proposed by Sir Rod Eddington, that would ultimately join CityLink to the Eastern Freeway… which in turn will add to the pressure to build the “missing link”.
The F14 is the Tullamarine Freeway and Citylink in the northwest, and the Monash Freeway in the south. The middle bit would reflect the traffic sewer that is Kingsway, Queensway and Dandenong Road.
The F18 is the Greensborough Bypass/Highway.
The F19 is the Eastern Freeway, even including the little extra bit at the eastern end, the Ringwood bypass.
The F35 is Eastlink.
The F38 is the South Gippsland Freeway.
(Did I miss any? Did I mis-read the map?)
The article talks about a memo from then Country Roads Board boss Robert Donaldson, which notes:
…I believe we should go quietly on freeway matters at the moment, particularly inner area freeways.
And it talks about building all the outer-suburban ones, with the hope that:
they will create a public appetite for high-capacity roads to take traffic through inner-areas.
And that’s what they’ve done: built most of the outer-suburban freeways, and some of the inner ones, and the others have been done as road widening, so they’ve ended up as wide as freeways (but without the huge grade-separated interchanges, for the most part).
And after all this road building, there’s nary a traffic jam to be seen.