Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Clear the way or politics #101

Clearways seem to be all over the world, although my readers in foreign climes may know them as something else. Many main roads in Melbourne, especially those that have trams running along them, have clearways. They are two lane roads and during morning and evening peak traffic time, parking is not allowed in the principle direction of travel. The times are usually 7am to 9am and 4.30pm to 6.30pm.

This helps trams move immensely faster, and of course motor traffic. Take this as a given, and if you dispute it, prove to me otherwise.

The Victorian State Government plans to extend the times of clearways, thus speeding up trams over a longer period. This has got to be good. It also speeds up car travel times too. There is nothing like a car with an incompetent driver who is reverse parking into a tight space to delay traffic.

Most of our clearways are also tow away zones, that is your car gets towed out of the way to a compound and you pay big bucks to get it back. This seems to happen rarely but you are pretty lucky if you only get a fine and not the tow fees.

Don't quote me on this, but I think the extension times are 6.30 to 9.30 in the morning and 3.00 to 7.00 in the arvo/evening.

I see no point in bringing the morning time back to 6.30 but the adjustment from 9.00 to 9.30 would be helpful to public transport.

While the government says it is firm on the matter, it also says it open to consultation. That does sound like a government. I think they really need to hold firm on the planned evening changes, 3.00pm to 7.00pm. Protective parents don't want their children walking or using public transport to get to and from school, instead they jam up the roads for the 3.30pm school pick up.

Naturally shop keepers along the routes of the proposed changes are bleating loudly and even further congesting traffic with their 'block the street protests'. I have some sympathy for them, but if their business is built on someone being able to park in front of their shop, perhaps they should move their business to one of those sixties shopping strips in the mid to outer suburbs.

Local councils must be seen to represent the businesses located with their areas, so they are jumping up and down also. Residents in side streets are jumping up and down too, as they fear more parking by shoppers on their streets.

Back when City of Stonnington was much smaller and only the City of Malvern, they cleverly put in extended pavements in their principle shopping street, Glenferrie Road, thus preventing any point of having a clearway. Other councils should have been just as smart. Really smart councils bought up old housing at the back of shopping streets for carparking. I am not so sure that was a good thing. If you can park your car you will be much more tempted to drive to the shops.

For mine, it is time to make Punt Road a permanent clearway, extend the afternoon clearways time significantly and make two principal tram routes clearways, that is Burke Road for the length it has trams, and the same for Glenferrie Road, regardless of councils extended pavements.

Nearly forgot, the politics.........the affected inner eastern and southern suburbs, with the exception of the seat of Prahran are all conservative voting, so no loss of votes apart from a minor number in Prahran. Most of the shop owners live in solidly conservative voting seats.
North and west are safe Labor, so no problem there. Win win for the gov and a win for tram passengers.


  1. Not a problem/life style choice we suffer from here in Fleetwood. You've ridden the Fleetwood balloons, Andrew, so you'll already be aware that our 'freeways' are called 'pavements'. The traffic, in the meantime, just has to form a long queue behind the trams in front. It gets on the car drivers nerves...but it also makes it easier for us pedestrians to cross the I've no complaints.

  2. Brian, you have never heard anyone rant about trams blocking traffic until you've heard a Melburnian.