Friday, September 21, 2007

Swanston Street, Melbourne

In the heart of the city of Melbourne is Swanston Street. It used to be described as a traffic sewer. Then pavements were widened making it much more pedestrian friendly. Private cars were banned with alternative traffic management put in place. Shop deliveries allowed between 7am and 10am. Taxis could travel for one block and could only enter or leave by turn left and must exit at the next legal turn. If you really need to be in the street, as tradies sometimes do, you apply for a permit.

It was to be street for trams, cyclists and pedestrians.

Then tourist coaches were allowed in and parked just a very short distance from the tram tracks. Taxis take the street to be a free for all and no one describes Melbourne's taxis better than Andy.

Private motorists were allowed in after 7pm. Like they took any notice of the laws anyway?

The police decided it is a good place to park their cars. Clearly 'access' permits were given out to Uncle Tom Cobbly and all and they park.

It is an abortion of a street now. Trams are constantly delayed by all of the above. Cyclists try to negotiate the narrow gap between parked vehicles and trams, motorists use it an access road to anywhere at anytime and ignore the 30 km speed limit.

My complaining email to City of Melbourne quoted back improved tram travel times in Swanston Street. Ha, I am not young. I know full well what the times were in the past and how Swanston Street worked before. I am not sure where they get their figures from.

Turn it back into a traffic sewer I say. I reckon it worked better for all then, except perhaps cyclists.

There are hundreds of cyclists using the street and it is downright dangerous for them. While they should have a free run in the lane next to the tram lines, they don't and have to dodge trams and pedestrians.

It is time to bite the bullet and spend a heap of money on the street to improve it for both cyclists and trams. If laws are unenforceable or just are not enforced, then the pavement needs to be narrowed so cyclists have a free path and nothing interferes with the running of trams. There is no other way than narrowing the footpath or physically preventing any vehicle access.


  1. I am with you on the narrowing of paths and widening of roads Andrew.

  2. Something has to be done at some point Cazzie.