Rego stickers are *so* last year

Lots of cars still seem to have rego stickers on them, even though they are being phased-out — you haven’t needed to have one on your car since the end of last year.

Rego stickers

…from 1 January 2014, Victoria will abolish registration labels for light vehicles, including passenger cars.


How will people know when they need to pay registration?

Although registration stickers will be no longer issued, there will be no change to the traditional reminders which car owners are used to receiving.

VicRoads will continue to send vehicle registration renewals notices around six weeks before registration is due, and a reminder letter will be sent if registration is not paid by the due date.

Vicroads: Discontinuation of registration labels

They also note that most other states have either already abolished registration stickers, or are about to.

Given it’s May and many more than half of cars still seem to have them, I assume many have expired but not been removed.

I peeled sticker off a few weeks ago, well after it expired. It took quite some time to remove completely, but on the bright side, I guess I’ll never have to do that again.

Vicroads and their decades-long plans for road widening

Say what you like about VicRoads, they know how to do forward planning.

For example, there’s a stretch of Ballarat Road in Footscray, just west of where the dual carriageway ends, where this is a common sight:

Vicroads land, Ballarat Road, Footscray

Lovely, isn’t it. Derelict wasteland, left to rot.

A look at Google’s aerial view reveals quite a few empty properies along the street.

Ballarat Road, Footscray

In a classic case of salami tactics, VicRoads has been slowly buying up the properties, perhaps over decades, with a view to eventual widening and duplication of the road.

Looking at some Planning Property Reports for one of the properties, there is indeed a Public Acquisition Overlay for the sections of those properties that face the road.

Public acquisition overlay (yellow) / heritage overlay (pink), Ballarat Road, Footscray

So, when and if road widening ever happens, then between Gordon and Droop Streets, the old Kinnears rope factory won’t be touched, but a bunch of houses and shops will lose part of their land (and thus face demolition or modification). Further towards Victoria University, it won’t touch the newish apartment block on the southern side, but will take part of the bowling club on the northern side.

West of Gordon Street, it’d be the northern side of the road that gets wiped-out — though it appears that (for now) a heritage overlay protects the rather glorious avenue of trees between Summerhill Road and the next section of dual carriageway.

All this is not to say VicRoads has any immediate plans to widen the road. It could still be decades off. But they have the overlay, and they have some of the land in their possession already. It’s a similar situation in various spots around Melbourne — one well-known one is Punt Road in South Yarra/Prahran, where overlays have been in place for more than half a century. (It’s a reminder to always check for overlays when thinking about buying a property.)

VicRoads owns about 2500 homes across the state. They have been bought over the past five decades for the sole purpose of future road use.

Herald Sun 2/2/2008

Such road expension projects have taken place before; the widening of the Nepean Highway in Brighton took out scores of houses. St Kilda Road between the junction and Carlisle Street was once High Street, and the old shopfronts still seen on the eastern side once were on the western side as well — that widening removed the historic Junction Hotel. And close to where the above example, Geelong Road was widened in the 1960s, all but obliterating an Avenue of Honour that had been there.

Meanwhile, on RRL

The VicRoads way is symptomatic of the forward planning that goes on — the so-called “bottom drawer” they can whip road plans out of whenever funding is available for something. And while this road expansion never seems to solve traffic congestion (thanks to induced traffic), they seem very efficient at getting it built.

It’s arguable that having a clear plan via an overlay, and slowly buying up the properties — even if empty land is a waste and looks horrible — is better than turning up out of the blue and announcing to people that their homes are going to be bought and demolished.

That’s what’s happened with the Regional Rail Link project.

In contrast to quiet buying up of land for road widening in the distant future, down the other end of Footscray, the RRL project had to acquire and demolish a number of houses and industrial property — and managed to botch the notification to affected people.

And in Sunshine, RRL is shaving away a section of the HV Mackay gardens. The of course there’s the new Footscray station bridge demolition.

Apparently nobody envisaged that the main western railway corridor would ever need to be widened, so the land wasn’t reserved. One can only hope that over time, future planning will improve.

Special licence plates

Horse Drawn Vehicle number plate

The Wikipedia article on Australian licence plates highlights some special prefixes, but here’s a list I’ve tried to come up with that includes others they don’t show, from personal observations and gleaning information from the VicRoads web site.

Bus number plateSome of them are clearly abbreviations for what they are… some not so much.

AO (suffix) – accredited bus

CC – Consular Corps

E56 – trailers

HDV – horse-drawn vehicle

Mxx – state vehicles, such as (marked) police cars

M – metropolitan Melbourne taxi

U – Geelong, Ballarat or Bendigo urban taxi

PS (suffix) – peak period taxi

ST – substitute taxi (replacement for regular taxi which is out of service for repairs)

C – country/regional taxis

TOW (prefix ) / TT (suffix) – tow truck

VHA/VHB/VHC – hire cars (eg chauffeured)

S000 to S999 – hire motorcycles

I particularly like HDV.

Are there others?

This is the law

I’ve written about this before, but just so it’s absolutely clear, I’m going to include a picture[1] with the text:

When turning left or right at any intersection (except a roundabout) you must give way to any pedestrians crossing the road you are turning into.

Give way to pedestrians when turning

– source: VicRoads: Driving in Victoria — Rules and Responsibilities, pages 35 and 39.

I’m pretty narked off that a 4WD owner[2] I encountered yesterday not only didn’t know this, but when challenged said it was not true.

I was in a hurry, and in no mood to give way to vehicles I was not obliged to, if I could possibly help it. I signalled him to stop, which he did. I then crossed in front of him, and since his window was down, told him he had to give way. When he claimed otherwise, I didn’t swear, but I did get a bit shouty, and told him to check his road rules. He drove off.

I hope he does check the laws and gets educated. It annoys me that some people are out there, driving around, ignorant of basic rules.

[1]The picture actually comes from a later section which talks about T-intersections, but appears to have been drawn to illustrate the point for other intersections as well.

[2]With a bullbar fitted. Because you really need them driving along Centre Road.

Update Sunday morning: Similar situation with a VW Golf driver yesterday afternoon.

Note that different rules apply to vehicles coming out of streets you’re crossing (peds should give way) and on roundabouts (peds should give way). On entrances/exits to private property, such as car parks and shopping centres, drivers should always give way.

Most importantly, always use your common sense — no matter what the law, if the other person is not going to stop, don’t put yourself or them in danger.

SmartRoads

For a while now, VicRoads has been working on a plan to allocate different priorities to different roads around Melbourne. Rather than the free-for-all we sometimes see now, some roads would be setup to emphasise pedestrian priority, some bus, some tram, and some would be “preferred traffic routes” and lesser “other traffic routes”.

I suspect it was inevitable that this would be launched under the title “SmartRoads“.

Here’s the glossy VicRoads video with Roads Minister Tim Pallas:

One of the positives is to encourage through-vehicle-traffic onto particular roads and off others, and with my sustainable transport hat on, hopefully it means better pedestrian facilities (eg crossings and low traffic speeds) and priority for public transport vehicles where it counts.

The detail about where the principal bike routes will be isn’t clear yet, and of course for cycling to really take off, these preferred routes need to be much more closely spaced than they are for cars.

Central Melbourne "SmartRoads" diagramThe down side of the plan is that if you live on a road which is deemed to be a preferred traffic route, you’re probably going to see more traffic coming through. But then, it does seem to formalise trends which have been ongoing for some time now, so you may not notice a huge difference. It’s been obvious for some time now that the Nepean Highway and Punt Road are traffic sewers.

One of the big questions will be what happens when two priority routes intersect? Anybody who’s caught a tram that crosses Alexandra Parade, for instance, will know you can spend minutes waiting at the lights. Hopefully the view that the higher priority is the number of people moving through the intersection, not the number of vehicles, will be the prevailing one.

I saw a draft of this thing in 2008; things have changed a little bit since then. In my area (which is still under review), happily, there are no preferred traffic routes, though there are some “other traffic routes”.

I think this is a step forward; recognition that the car is no longer king, at least not on every single road, and that more efficient movement of people means giving priority to trams and buses, as well as pedestrians in some areas.

But the devil will be in the detail — and to take full advantage of it and really cut traffic congestion, the government needs to push much harder on upgrading the alternatives to car travel.

How will it affect your area? Download the maps from VicRoads.