It used to be that the fashionable bridge for high vehicles to crash into was the Spencer/Flinders Street rail overpass — eleven hits in five years.
But it’s been usurped by the Montague Street tram bridge.
At lunchtime on Tuesday I went down to have a look.
Certainly no shortage of warnings signs. In this view alone I count four, plus the stripy guard barrier in front of the bridge:
What you may not realise is that it’s actually two parallel bridges. One takes tram route 109; the other has spare tracks used for tram storage, as part of the nearby Southbank depot. (Originally one was the Port Melbourne line; I’m guessing the other was freight tracks or sidings.)
Similar to train bridges, there are signs indicating you should ring Yarra Trams straight away if a vehicle hits the bridge. Presumably that phone number has been rung a few times recently.
I was only there for about ten minutes, but unbelievably, another vehicle hit the bridge while I was there. This truck’s exhaust pipe hit the barrier. The pipe bent markedly, but stayed on. The truck driver stopped momentarily, then just kept going.
Not a serious collision of course, but amazing that despite all the signage and all the publicity, it still happens so often — this was the day after it had been hit twice.
And thankfully the vehicles are really hitting the super-tough guard barrier, so damage to the bridge itself (which would cause untold delays for many tram services and passengers) has so far been avoided.
(Yeah nah I didn’t really damage the car with my sneaker. Apparently it was damaged in a collision on Wednesday night, and left at the scene, presumably for later towing. Hopefully nobody was hurt.)
I don’t drive as much as many people (my average kilometres per year figure is about half the national average), but here are some recent random observations…
Seat belts. Why do some people wait for a few hundred metres before they put on their seatbelts? Do they think they’re somehow immune from accidents for the first minute or two?
Petrol prices are down at the moment. It’s unclear if this will get more people driving more often or further, or buying bigger gas-guzzling cars, but looking at the longer term on the bright side, it’s completely taken the heat out of the government re-instating indexation on fuel excise.
Manual vs Auto. My car is a manual. I had the opportunity to drive an automatic a few times last year. It’s easier to drive, but perhaps not as responsive as driving a manual. The car took a few seconds to work out when I wanted to accelerate rapidly… in a manual, I can tell it exactly what to do.
The race: One of the books I read a year or two ago (I’d tell you precisely which, but I can’t remember, and haven’t found the quote) noted that driving is a race. I think that’s right. I’m not a speed-freak (I hope), but on multi-lane roads, I constantly find myself wondering if I can get ahead of the other cars by switching lanes.
On single lane roads the race becomes one of strategy. Avoid Caulfield if there’s horse racing today. Don’t use the tram roads; you may get stuck behind one. Don’t drive through the busy shopping centres if you don’t need to go there.
Of course, if you get stuck behind a slow driver, ultimately, that’s just life, right? It’s the nature of the road system — everybody’s at the mercy of the worst drivers on the road.
I was pleased to see a couple of articles on page 5 of the May 2014 City of Glen Eira council newsletter, about the rights of pedestrians on footpaths.
The first notes the rules around keeping footpaths clear:
Clearing the way for walking
During community consultation for Glen Eira City Council’s Walking Strategy, various concerns were raised regarding obstructions for walking. These obstructions range from overhanging branches from private properties, illegally parked vehicles and construction sites.
A key role of Council’s Parking and Prosecutions Department is to have a presence at schools within Glen Eira to ensure safety of children. This includes ensuring vehicles do not park over school crossings or footpaths.
It notes you can ring the council to get cases investigated.
The other concerns motorists using private driveways needing to give way to pedestrians:
Pedestrians and private driveways
Each year, a significant number of pedestrians including the elderly and children, are run down and seriously injured by vehicles exiting private driveways
Under the Victorian road rules, a driver exiting a private driveway must give way to pedestrians and all other traffic — even if such traffic is hidden by high front fences, hedges or buildings.
Glen Eira City Council Manager Transport Planning Terry Alexandrou said that blowing the horn before exiting the driveway is not giving way.
The correct way to exit a private driveway is:
1. drive slowly to the exit and stop with the nose or tail of the car just short of the footpath; and
2. at less than walking speed, inch out slowly across the footpath.
It’s worth noting that the Road Safety Rules 2009 makes it clear that motorists have to give way to pedestrians when entering or exiting any off-road area, and this “can include a driveway, service station or shopping centre” — it’s not just private residential driveways.
As I’ve noted before, this is contrary to common signage which urges pedestrians to “Beware of cars” — which they should of course, but in the absence of any warnings for motorists, could easily be misconstrued as implying vehicles don’t have to give way.
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.
…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.