Saturday, 13 April 2013

Transport issues in Melbourne

A new road safety plan is being voted on this week in Melbourne, and I couldn't agree more with what the council is hopefully going to change here. We came to the conclusion very early on in our move here that pedestrians are the lowest on the travelling food chain. It can take an absolute age to cross at lights, you often have to wait in excess of 5 minutes, and if it is a particularly wide street you can barely make it across before the light changes again.

Very few of our friends here don't have a car. We are the minority, whereas in London it was the other way around. Public transport is ok, but obviously nowhere near as comprehensive as in London. I am lucky that my train journey to work is pretty easy, but a major factor in deciding where to live was how I would get to work. Originally I wanted to live closer to the beach, but working in Ivanhoe (north-east) makes that pretty much impossible - it would probably take me about an hour and a half each way to get to work if that were the case. As it is  I make it about 50 minutes door-to-door, which is about my limit.

At the weekends we are often frustrated when we try to get anywhere on public transport. There are very few trains south of the river, and so you need to rely on trams which are slow as they are in the same lanes as the cars. We are trying to cycle more, but frankly I don't trust the drivers here yet - I'm not convinced they are aware enough of cyclists yet! There are some good bike paths in places, but unfortunately they are pretty inconsistent at this point (I actually miss the bright blue Boris cycle highways!) I am not surprised so many people drive everywhere here, as it's so frustrating to walk, cycle or take public transport.

But it seems the council are aware of these problems and will hopefully pass legislature to give pedestrians priority over cars in Melbourne's CBD. As Councillor Oke is quoted saying "no city in the works is designing their city for increased car travel". Main points being addressed are:

  • Cut waiting times for pedestrians at busy crossings
  • Widen footpaths in pedestrian heavy areas
  • Consider giving cyclists and trams a head start at lights
  • Encourage cyclists to ride in the middle of the road to avoid being squeezed between tram stops and traffic
The issue of traffic combined with lack of public transport and safe cycle lanes is one of Melbourne's biggest downfalls to us. These and other changes would hugely improve what it is like to get around the city as a pedestrian or cyclist, however I still think the city has a long way to go in order to encourage people to take public transport or cycle instead of their car. 

Full news article here

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