Cyclists on the footpath

I described this on Twitter the other day, but I’ll expand on it here.

I was heading out in the car on Saturday afternoon.

Got in, beeped, looked behind me, slowly backed-out of my driveway.

BANG! A cyclist riding along the footpath with his dog (roughly at running pace) collided with my car.

I stopped, moved my car back into the driveway, and asked if he was okay. Thankfully he was. And his dog.

They carried on down the street, at the same speed.

Bicycles parked at Ormond station

Cyclists on footpaths

Cycling forms a vital part of the transport network, helping people travel longer distances than might be practical by walking, but without having to drive a vehicle.

Sometimes there are good reasons for cyclists to avoid riding on the road. Riding on some roads can be perilous due to driver behaviour.

Probably not my on street though. It’s fairly quiet. But what would you do if taking the dog out for a run?

In Victoria it’s completely legal to ride on the footpath for cyclists under 12, or accompanying those under 12. (Regulation 250)

(The bloke I encountered was an adult.)

The problem isn’t so much the bicycle itself, as the speed compared to other footpath users.

Just as cyclists come of worse in on-road collisions with motor vehicles, pedestrians come of worse in footpath collisions with cyclists.

For a bike going at anything much above walking speed, there’s a real danger of a collision with a vehicle or a person, especially given limited visibility to/from driveways and garden paths — in fact years ago one of my sons was hit by a cyclist while coming out of a front garden gate.

And yet some cyclists will persist in riding at speed along footpaths. Really not a good idea.

What could I have done?

My fence isn’t high, but the speed he was going, I’d have little chance of spotting him even if driving out forwards.

And he obviously didn’t spot me, and either didn’t hear the beep, or didn’t realise where it came from, or couldn’t stop in time.

There is one thing I could do: my driveway is short enough that I could have a quick look up and down the footpath before I get in the car. It might help.

This tram is bigger on the inside #SaveTheDay

This tram is bigger on the inside:

The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who is fast approaching, and fans are getting into a fervour.

Normally it’s only sports fans who wake up early to watch live TV. Sci-fi fans? Not so much.

All that will change next Sunday morning, when the special anniversary episode Day Of The Doctor will simulcast in Australia and in 70+ other countries around the world. On the east coast it’s 6:50am AEDT, which is pretty civilised (matching the UK time of 7:50pm on Saturday).

It’ll air again on Sunday night at 7:30pm on ABC1 for those who don’t want to get up early, followed by a dramatisation of the creation of the TV series, airing straight after it (trailer). Then it’ll be shown again on ABC2 on Monday, at 7:30pm and 11:20pm.

The special episode will also be shown in 3D at many cinemas next Sunday, including most Hoyts and Village outlets.

There’s been an early teaser/trailer:

…an actual trailer:

…and I can’t embed it in this page, but there’s also a mini-episode which brought a huge surprise for regular viewers of the show.

Will I be getting up early next Sunday to watch? Oh yes!

Car trouble – just when I needed it (of course)

Last night’s skyline from the country:

Country night skyline

It’s not often I have to be urgently somewhere in the car, but it was the case yesterday. “Don’t be late!” I’d been (lightheartedly) told.

It’s not a trip that is completely impossible by public transport, but with only three trains a day, and the first of the morning getting me there 45 minutes late, that wasn’t an option. It had to be a trip made by road.

I’d started the car briefly on Thursday to check I had enough fuel to make the trip. That may have been my undoing.

When I got in the car on Friday morning to head north, it wouldn’t start. It grumbled and spluttered. I sat back for a moment, swore under my breath, then tried again. No go.

I contemplated possible plan Bs, and how it was possible this could happen after (as I recall it) zero engine-related troubles with the Astra since I got it in 2008 (and no hint of forthcoming issues at the last service).

The third time, it finally came good, but with a deep rumble somewhere in the engine. I thought I might as well go for it, and eased it out of the driveway. As we moved down the street the rumble stopped, and it was fine.

I didn’t dare stop along the way. Two and a bit hours I’d made it, and gratefully pulled into a parking spot.

Since then it’s got me home again too, even with a brief stop along the way.

So, those of you who know more about cars than I do (which is most of you, I suspect): is it the battery? Is it on the way out? Time for a replacement?

And if so, any particularly recommended vendors for someone like me who probably doesn’t have the time or energy to do it himself?

Some reasons why the east-west road Eddingtunnel makes no sense

Some reasons why the Rod Eddington-proposed east-west road tunnel makes no sense:

1. Eddington’s own study showed the road tunnel would have a benefit/cost ratio of just 45 cents in the dollar.

2. Even including the rather wobbly “wider economic benefits” only got it up to 72 cents. (Only by lumping in other projects including the rail tunnel with the road tunnel were they able to get a result that was anywhere near economically viable.)

In short, anybody with any hint of economic rationalism in them should reject the road tunnel as unviable.

Alexandra Parade, eastbound on a Saturday

3. People seem to think it’s just a problem with cars coming from the big road (Eastern Freeway) onto the little one (Elliot Avenue/Macarthur Rd, through Parkville), as if all the cars are headed from freeway to freeway. They’re not of course.

The photo above shows Alexandra Parade eastbound on a Saturday. Those three clogged lanes of traffic didn’t come from the one lane through Parkville. Eddington’s tunnel wouldn’t fix this, because under his plan, it wouldn’t have interchanges anywhere near there:

there are sound operational, functional and strategic reasons for this section to act as a northern city bypass, and city access ramps have not been included.Chapter 9

And if it was modified so it did have interchanges, it would devastate large areas of Melbourne’s prime inner-northern suburbs, due to the massive amounts of land required.

4. And the westbound traffic? The Northern Central City Corridor Study showed that most traffic from the Eastern Freeway is heading to the city and inner suburbs, only about 10% heads across town to the Tullamarine Freeway/Citylink or further west. (See below)

Upgrading circumferential public transport (including, but certainly not limited to implementing the scrapped Blue Orbital Smartbus, and higher-frequency services right across Melbourne to make more non-CBD point-to-point trips easier by PT) would help cater for cross-city travel more efficiently.

Where traffic from the Eastern Freeway goes

5. You don’t fix traffic by building road capacity. It doesn’t work. It never works, due to induced traffic: once increased road capacity makes it easier to drive, people do so, by making more trips or moving trips from other modes.

The net result? Billions spent creating more traffic.

6. The claims of a “backup to the Westgate bridge” don’t stand up. Footscray Road, Dynon Road and Smithfield Road together provide six lanes each way across the Maribyrnong River (one more lane each way than the Westgate). They don’t work as a backup because they have their own traffic to deal with. It would be the same with a new tunnel.

It could only ever work as a “backup” if it is kept closed and unused until the Westgate is blocked. Which is not the way multi-billion-dollar pieces of infrastructure are generally used.

7. One reason Eddington’s study wanted more roads was that it assumed public transport use would not grow strongly:

In 2031, the daily number of public transport passenger trips is predicted to be around 1.4 million

In reality, it reached that level in 2010. The last thing you’d want to do is undermine that by mass building of new road capacity that would encourage people back into cars.

Platform 7 is rebooting…

Here’s what the new platform Passenger Information Display Screens (PIDS in transport lingo) at the inner-city stations look like:

Richmond station new displays (2009)

They show much the same information as the old screens, but now it’s widescreen, and clearer. (I haven’t checked to see if they still abbreviate Greensborough to “GREENSBORO” when it’s the destination.)

If only I could work out how to unscrew one of these screens and take it home to watch DVDs on…

However, here’s what one at Richmond looked like the other week:

Richmond Station, platform 7

It was booting over and over when we saw it. Whoops.

There is another glitch: the displays above the central stairwell at Richmond have a list of the next few direct Flinders Street and City Loop trains, for people changing trains. Unfortunately they display V/Line trains on them, which suburban passengers can’t use.

Hopefully that’ll be fixed soon.