Sunday, January 01, 2006

Congestion a taxing solution - bureaucratic stupidity at its best

Stupidity still trails the media who starved from real news touts-up the proposed City Limits congestion tax as front page news.

Gridlock: new push on city car tax - National -

The proposed congestion tax would deliver a serious economic blow to the City of Melbourne and in particular the City's retail sector and create significant problems of logistics for city residents and business men/women wishing to travel outside the confines of the city. Melbourne is not London - its just a small City with poor planning and design. The only winners of such a tax are the suburban shopping malls, such as Chadstone - which has just received the go-ahead to expand. Money talks and planning follows design.

Vicroads solution, as always, is to build more and bigger roads. But this is not the answer. Clearly better and cheaper option is to have more frequent and diverse types of public transport servicing the city's requirements.

Melbourne's congestion problems are as a result of poor planning, government policy and design adding to Melbourne's woes is the CityLink toll-way with many drivers seeking alternative routes through the city to avoid the toll. -
Who ever came up with the idea and agreed to restricting city traffic flow to pump traffic onto the tollway should be held to account and their job should be on the line.

Trim tort and traffic - Logic by design - Narrow not widen is sometimes the solution.

Another problem is the design of the road network itself. As Trevor Huggard, former Lord Mayor and Civil engineer, once said "most of the problem with the flow of traffic in and around Melbourne is due to different road widths and the number of lanes that end up bottle-necking slowing down traffic flow and causing congestion." Traffic flows like water you have a bigger pipe feeding directly into a narrow outlet the back pressure builds up and the overflow finds an alternative route.

A clear example of this can be found at the end of the Eastern Freeway. Here Vicroads, in its piece-meal incremental approach, has increased the number of lanes by stealth saying that the road needs widening. They widened the road back in 1994/5 and all that it achieved was more traffic congregating at a different bottleneck where the road can not be widened.

Huggard, who is a logical thinker, addressed this issue when looking at the design of Elgin Street. Instead of widening the street he narrowed it so that the width of the street remained constant and there was rush or sudden need to change lanes or stop in order to enter the narrow sections between Nicholson Street and the Yarra river. Sure traffic capacity was not expanded but the flow of traffic was better and precious seconds saved and frustration eased.

Alternative solutions need support

Other alternative suggestions that need to be considered is a multiple prong attack Ideas such as encouraging use of alternative means of private transport other then the car. Motorcycles, motor scooters and bicycles are more road congestion friendly then the four seater car - which most of the time only seats one driver burns up fuel and adds to the population count.

Our ever increasing number of bicycle lanes go under-utilised. Whist they add to the statistics of the length of Melbourne's bike lanes the fact is that cyclists prefer alternative routes that do not follow the main roads.

One suggestion is to allow sharing of the designated bike lanes with small (under 350cc) motor bikes and motor scooters during peak hour traffic. This would significantly improve the safety and up take of motorbikes/scooters as an alternative cheaper means of private transport. As any one who rides a bike will tell you its not the bikes that are a safety risk it is the car drivers that don't look out for bike riders.

Riding in peak hour traffic is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. The sharing of nominated bike lanes in peak hour would be a plus and better utilisation of public infrastructure. Its implementation is minimal cost and could reduce the extent of congestion by up to 10% as more people adopt and utilise alternative means of transport

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