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Transport – a monologue

By 5 October 2008 35

Lately our local government has been relentlessly banging on about global warming and how we should all be good global citizens and catch a bus to work instead of driving our heated or, in summer, air conditioned cars. Of course, these politicians are given a free Prius to drive each day to their ivory tower so the smugness at the legislative assembly building is thicker than a Canberra fog in midwinter. And equally, they aren’t the ones who have to walk for 15 minutes to a bus stop only to find that it either doesn’t turn up or is so full that the bus driver doesn’t even bother stopping.

This means an extra 30 minutes wait and in winter that can seem like an eternity and usually leads to goodly dose of the flu so you end up staying at home in bed with the electric blanket on high and the gas heating blasting the atmosphere to a temperature usually only found in places near Alice Springs in summer thus negating any savings that you may have made by talking the bus.

Add to this the fact that Canberra was designed for cars and you get the picture why buses don’t figure highly on peoples radars.

Sadly, the government does not like the fact that its people are voting with their feet and staunchly refuse to take public transport. So, in almost bloody minded retaliation a forest of parking metres suddenly sprung up around all business and commercials centres. The overlords sat back and rubbed their social engineering hands together waiting for the populace to see the light.

Of course, it didn’t work. People just paid for parking.

Incensed, the bleeding hearted liberals softies decided that, for the good of the planet, they would start replacing existing car parks with buildings, pondering that logically, if there is no-where to park then no-one will drive a car. Not surprisingly the motorists did not like this one bit and found ways around this lack of parking. After all, this is a species who once decided that they were sick and tired of living in trees and getting eaten by leopards so decided to wander around on the ground and live in large caves instead. The people were not going to be defeated by something as trivial as no parking.

Seriously annoyed now, and with its green credentials ruined by inconsiderate automobile drivers, the government went on a full out attack calling motorist irresponsible planet wreckers and polar bear murderers conveniently forgetting that the bus system was in fact archaic and unusable for about 90% of the working population.

And to make matters even worse, if that is possible, it now appears that there are more government speed camera vans and mounted speed cameras than there are private cars. So, not only will we now have to pay for our parking in a non existent parking lot whilst paying for the pleasure to drive instead of using a bus system and timetable that didn’t work in the Roman days but we also have to watch out for speed cameras.

One could say that we are closer to having a police state than ever. In fact, it makes all that whinging and tut-tutting at regimes such as Burma seams someone hypocritical. Soon it will be an offence to vacuum your car in case some sort of endangered blowfly happened to make its way in.

So what can we do, apart from storming the legislative assembly building with AK47s and changing your name by deed poll to Robert Mugabwe. Well, nothing really. We voted them in, so we have to live with it, the problem being is that I have to live with it as well, not that this makes any iota of difference as the other mob are surely as useless, and possibly more power hungry, as well.

So get used to it Mr Orwell. We have cards to get us into work, we have cards to get money from machines in walls, we even have cards to take to hospital when a wild pig has gnawed your foot off while you sleep in a cave attempting to get away from society. The way its going soon we won’t even be able to smoke in our outside, let alone our own homes. And those that do will probably end up in a cell with someone who has a strange fascination for automatic weapons and banks. This is a scary thought. Especially if you didn’t have a card.

Add to that the fact that we are not allowed to upset anyone, ever, at all, no matter how dumb, selfish, stupid, cruel, idiotic, nasty, they may be. Apparently this is not being inclusive and is called racism, even if Islam is a religion and not a race, which is all quite silly because most Muslims I have met are nicer than Mr and Mrs I-own-a-Ford-Falcon-and-have-two-and-a-half-bogan-kids who live next door, blow up your letterbox with fireworks and poke your dog with a stick.

But whatever the case, whatever we do in our cars will be filmed by someone, somewhere, and they will have your name, and registration on a file. Do something wrong and you’ll receive a nice, impersonal letter telling you that you owe them some money.

Interestingly, when speed camera vans were introduced in Canberra they were required to put up a sign about 200 metres either side of the van that warned motorists that they were there. Of course, the said motorist who at the time was doing 20kph over the speed limit simply slowed down until he was past the van and then gunned it. The vans political masters soon worked out that this was not raising any revenue as no-one was getting caught so they decided to do away with the portable signs and put in permanent signs warning that the speed camera vans may be there. Again, drivers put up with the inconvenience of slowing down for a few hundred metres, and then, you guessed it, tramped it.

This is, except for really stupid people but I don’t care about them.

Seeing that this wasn’t raising the level of the bullion in the coffers, sorry, I mean, wasn’t slowing down the traffic to the required government standard, they decided to just park the vans wherever they felt like. That is, behind trees and bushes, in hidden cul-de-sacs, at the bottom of hills that make the White Cliffs of Dover seem a gentle gradient and around blind corners. Of course, all perfectly visible after you actually crashed into them.

The government tells us that they are doing to save lives, which does makes some sense in that if you are dead you can no longer pay taxes and they don’t like that one bit. No, they want you alive so you can pay taxes. And fines from speed camera vans as well.

I’ve heard arguments that speed cameras and speed camera vans really don’t make any money but this just doesn’t wash with me. If just 20 stupid people sped past a speed camera a day the government would have around four grand extra. Taken over a year and that is lot of money. In fact, enough to buy more speed cameras and vans. It’s a never ending self prophesy really.

But do speed cameras really save lives? Or do they reduce speeding? The government will says yes to both as they have a vested interest. In other words, they put the cameras in at great expense so they bloody well better show some outcomes. Imagine if you will, Wendall Sailor. Now Wendall was a seriously good rugby league player who was wooed over to rugby union by million and millions of dollars in cash. The problem was, Wendall was not a very good rugby union player. Sure he could run, and he was big, but he couldn’t tackle and couldn’t kick, yet alone be in a good position for a winger.

But no matter, rugby had paid big dollars for their major signing so no matter what he was like, they were going to play him. Then he tested positive to cocaine and the Australian rugby world sighed a great big sigh of relief.

And so it is for speed cameras. They bought them, so now they are going work. Whatever the cost, whatever the stupidity. The lunatics are running the asylum my dear.

And yet one can think of lots of things that could do the job just as efficiently as a speed camera. How about better roads, less congestion, better sign posting, better driver training, more lighting, more mobile police. The list is endless.

Moreso, if speed is so bad then why is it that with four times the driving population from yesteryear, we don’t even get anywhere near twice the fatalities? I mean, 20 years ago we had still had trucks, 100 mph super cars like Monaros, motorbikes and caravans and the people driving them often had no idea whatsoever about driving. It used to be said that every Sudanese refugee who stepped off a boat of plane was given a taxi licence before his naturalisation papers. Throw these guys in with half comatose valium mums with screaming kids, boozed up fat businessman in luxury sedans, ditzty young blonde girls in hatchbacks and blonde haired, Winfield smoking booners in Commodores and Volvo driving hat wearers from the local bowls club and you had a recipe for the extinction of man.

And yet it didn’t happen. Even when they were all screaming along wet, icy roads in the middle of winter at 100 kph. Frankly, you had more chance of being gnawed to death by a hairy nosed wombat than dying in a car accident. Especially as speed cameras have a habit of making you take your eyes of the road so you can look at the speedo. Remember, its okay to crash into a parked truck but not okay to speed.

Strangely, and although it may not seem the case, I really don’t have a problem with speed cameras simply because I do not speed and therefore they don’t affect me. Frankly I see them as an idiot tax, that being, if you are stupid enough to speed past onr then you deserve to pay.

So why the speed cameras? Who decided that, although we weren’t doing to badly looking after ourselves on the road, we needed extra regulation to make us even safer? Well you need not look any further than liberal hand wringers who simply can’t bear the thought of people making decisions for themselves. No, no, this cannot happen. The people cannot be allowed to make their own decisions, after all, they are not qualified. Mr Orwell must be glad he is dead because now we have the speed camera.

And the last word on speed cameras? Simply that the logic is flawed. If they worked no-one would speed, but people still get fined, which means they haven’t stop speeding at all. And so they have failed in the most basic objective, if that objective really is to stop speeding, as the politicians tell us.

Oh, and extra money in the coffers. Apart from that it all seems pretty pointless really.

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35 Responses to Transport – a monologue
#1
Soolin7:59 am, 05 Oct 08

I couldn’t agree more, thanks for the great post!

#2
astrojax8:33 am, 05 Oct 08

is this someone from the motorists party?

the segue from a rant about parking and GHG emissions into one about revenue-raising speed cameras and the ineptitude of the driving public, with a nod to ‘brave new world’ somehow, pretty well turned equally against every demographic and with seemingly no correlation between the issues. the logic is all flawed – there has been marked improvements in vehicle safety that contribute inordinately to the reduction in collision injury, not to mention regulation to back these up. and do you really think the general speed of traffic flow is as fast today as it was even say a decade ago? i don’t.

in all, was there a point? so, a long rant poses a question or two, but are there answers? if you don’t speed and so remain blissfully unaffected, why the rant? have you gone to the trouble of outlining your complaints to ACTION, or the legislative assembly and your local member, or is it just easier to unload it here? shouldn’t you be enjoying the idiot tax that pays for other public services you don’t account for? s’like the bandits in clubs, idiot taxes there subsidise cheaper beverages and the like.

who you gone vote for, then, eh?

#3
cring8:35 am, 05 Oct 08

Really truly a great post. Absolutely right on the money. I, too, couldn’t agree more.

#4
pickmmm8:55 am, 05 Oct 08

pickmmm said :

how we should all be good global citizens and catch a bus to work

or ride a bicycle. It’s fun and good for you. Try it.

#5
blub8:58 am, 05 Oct 08

The View From Here – which cloud where you sitting on when you wrote your rant, because it is precisely that, a rant with no substance.

I’m with Astro, while you raise some interesting points, you raise more questions than answers.

Also, if 20 years ago people used to drive around 100kph, and they don’t now, the cameras must be working, or have we all succumbed to the police state we live in and no one ever drives fast – or are the cars we buy no longer capable of going that fast (I think not)?

Side note – RA team, will you fix the clock on the server so comments are timestamped according to DST?

#6
ant9:05 am, 05 Oct 08

Top-notch rant. A rant doesn’t have to be a foot-noted essay, a rant is exactly that, a rant. And this rant was a very good rant. And the writer is right to rant, because the current situation is ridiculous and no sensible solutions are in the offing.

#7
johnboy10:21 am, 05 Oct 08

Actually blub the clock is spot on.

The UTC offset on the other hand did need fixing and thanks for the reminder.

#8
harvyk110:23 am, 05 Oct 08

Sorry, what was the rant about, buses or speed camera’s?

I agree, buses in Canberra are a big joke. They are an unreliable method of getting from A to B, especially where there is any sort of time limit (eg start of work). The whole system needs an overall, and not just a few route changes. I personally do not catch them unless I have absolutely no other choice (at least not in Canberra).

As for speed Camera’s, there are cases in the UK where speed camera’s have been removed because they increased the accident rate in the area. The problem is that speed is rarely the real cause of an accident. It’s usually a combination of factors (distractions and fatigue rate highly here). But out of most factors which cause an accident speed and alcohol are the only 2 things that can be realistically tested, thus the prorogation of speed camera’s and RBT’s. Coupled with the Speed Kill’s ad’s of the 80′s and 90′s (and realistically we ain’t seen nothing compared to what they shove down motorists throats in Vic) according to the vocal minority “speed kills is the answer”, even if there are quite a few coppers who don’t believe the speed kills tripe.

#9
Bundybear10:44 am, 05 Oct 08

Nothing wrong with a good rant for no other reason than to have a good rant – it is titled “a monologue” after all. Quite an interesting read.

#10
miz12:48 pm, 05 Oct 08

“Soon it will be an offence to vacuum your car in case some sort of endangered blowfly happened to make its way in.” Classic! LOL!

#11
Granny12:55 pm, 05 Oct 08

I really enjoyed the read, The View From Here.

: )

Hope you’ve started work on the next piece.

I am actually surprised that more accidents in Canberra aren’t caused by tailgating than speed, but there seems to be no attempt made by anybody to deal with this issue. Yet it often terrifies me with my kids in the back. I feel like they’re really vulnerable and there’s nothing I can do to protect them. So I find myself instinctively slowing down, not because I want to further tick the tailgater off, but because if they hit my kids I want it to be at a slower speed.

#12
Gibbo1:12 pm, 05 Oct 08

Having been a cycle commuter and driver in Sydney it is quite clear that ACT drivers aren’t safe. It just happens to be a combination of low traffic density and forgiving roads that results in low accidents. Nothing to do with the competency of the drivers.
In fact most ACT drivers have their accidents in NSW where they are actually required to pay attention while driving and demonstrate ability.
This was reported in a study a while back http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2005/05/06/1361386.htm

#13
sepi2:27 pm, 05 Oct 08

When the govt removed all the parking ‘to encourage bus use’ it would have made sense if they had increased the buses, to allow for all that increased usage.

But they actually sold off a few buses and drastically reduced services. Proving that their point about buses was just a stupid excuse for selling off all the carparks.

And showed again how they would just say anything to justify what they want to do.

#14
grunge_hippy2:42 pm, 05 Oct 08

i would catch a bus if it picked me up from my door (which it pretty much does) and drop me at work without having to resort to 2 hours of travel and several buses later to reach it. riding bike is not an option, i live a good 15kms+ from work and i have a child to drop off at care. luckily for me, parking is free. hubby on the other hand resorted to buses to avoid parking costs and finally cracked the shits with it and bought a motorbike.

public transport in canberra is a joke.

gee, my rant says the exact same thing without nearly as many fancy words, threats of violence and confusing retoric. you must be such a clever person to write all that, couldnt possibly be from the motorist party!

#15
ant4:40 pm, 05 Oct 08

Yes Grunge Hippy, but the original rant was much more entertaining.

#16
VYBerlinaV8_the_one_7:56 pm, 05 Oct 08

Public transport is way too crap to be considered a viable option for me. I’ll happily continue to own and run 2 cars, and charge back my work parking costs to my government clients.

#17
astrojax8:21 pm, 05 Oct 08

are you from the motorist party, hippie? can i vote for you, then..?

of course many specific people are going to say, ‘oh but i can’t use public transport because…’ but the point is there are many people who drive single occupant vehicles in their commute who could avail themselves of buses/car pooling/cycling/walking and who are likely to complain about parking, traffic flows, idiot other drivers etc… if they made an effort.

‘s a bit like a traffic collision – if you really pursued it with both parties, even (and especially, often) the supposedly [or legally] not-at-fault driver, and looked at what they were each doing a moment or two pre-impact, you would almost always find that the collision should have been avoided. there are very few ‘accidents’ and (here’s the connection with the point of the rant/s) there are probably just as few people who really can’t avail themselves of buses/etc – it is all a matter of necessity and desire, taking a step back and looking at the big picture. innit.

i’ll stop now.

#18
enrique9:59 pm, 05 Oct 08

heh heh,

The person that wrote this… The View From Here… must have had a bad weekend and received a speeding fine I’ll wager.

#19
enrique9:59 pm, 05 Oct 08

I do agree with the post though.

#20
astrojax8:35 am, 06 Oct 08

I really don’t have a problem with speed cameras simply because I do not speed and therefore they don’t affect me

given this, enrique, i’d wager you’re mistaken – but the view will have to elucidate… and, um, can you elucidate for us, with what, exactly, about the post do you agree?

#21
Holden Caulfield9:57 pm, 06 Oct 08

You can tell it was a rant by the spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. “Yet alone” was my favourite one.

Other than that, quality post TVFH. Hope to see you around a bit more. :)

#22
peterh11:04 am, 07 Oct 08

astrojax said :

I really don’t have a problem with speed cameras simply because I do not speed and therefore they don’t affect me

given this, enrique, i’d wager you’re mistaken – but the view will have to elucidate… and, um, can you elucidate for us, with what, exactly, about the post do you agree?

enrique has never had to avoid a moron on the parkway slowing to 80km/h – braking heavily to do so, swerving, etc, because 90km/h might set off the camera. the way that some drivers panic at the cameras is enough to cause an accident. The problem is the location of the cameras. I don’t know many people who speed towards the hill near hindmarsh, they are usually too busy merging into the right hand lane to avoid traffic coming off the slip lane. and the cotter road overpass camera, it is going downhill. I would think that the act govt would have thought about that.

#23
Granny11:36 am, 07 Oct 08

Going down a hill? Concentrating on $omething el$e? Of cour$e $omebody ha$ thought about thi$!

*laugh$*

#24
VYBerlinaV8_the_one_11:43 am, 07 Oct 08

I find it amusing how many people here claim that they ‘don’t speed’, and yet on any arterial road in Canberra you will generally find the traffic flowing 10-15KM/H above the speed limit (except past the cameras, where everyone slows down), unless it’s clogged due to peak hour.

#25
presactly12:18 pm, 07 Oct 08

Lovely rant. I’ve been thinking for ages that the focus on speed over and above everything else was conter-productive. I was brought up on ‘driving for the conditions’ ie just ’cause the sigh says the max is 100kph doesn’t make it smart in flooding rains or if your tyres are bald.

This bloke (former Wheels mag editor) says it all so beautifully, and with stats:

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that 95 per cent of people don’t exceed speed limits and even fewer drink and drive. So their belief is that if they avoid those offences, they don’t have to pay much more attention to being safe or driving carefully.”

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23024712-5010800,00.html

#26
New Yeah12:49 pm, 07 Oct 08

I like the analogy with Wendell Sailor. I don’t really understand it, in fact I dont’ want to understand it, but it still made me laugh.

#27
Kramer2:29 pm, 07 Oct 08

presactly – Totally right! On the (very rare ;-) occaisons when I might speed, I am 100% concentrating on the road, whereas when I am cruising along at the limit (or even under it) I’ll just be on autopilot, playing with the radio settings, etc.

#28
nathan2:14 pm, 08 Oct 08

I call for more comprehensive driver training, with ongoing training on a periodic basis (e.g. every 5 years, do a weekend course on driver training). Then, the speed limits could be raised to more appropriate levels.

Having more effective traffic light phasing wouldn’t hurt either – travelling at the speed limit, I caught six sets of lights along Ginninderra Drive between Coulter Drive and Mouat Street this morning (William Webb, William Slim, Aikman, Haydon, Braybrooke and the GDE). Of course, that also means I burnt more fuel, causing further damage to the environment and to my wallet.

On a related note, gossip informs me that litigation from green/community groups forced the GDE to be cut from two lanes along its length to its current width; however, I seem to recall the plans published on the government website only ever showing one. Why wasn’t the GDE built as dual carriageway throughout, hive mind?

#29
Loose Brown3:04 pm, 08 Oct 08

Absolutely fantastic rant. Move over Piers Ackerman. Can you please do a regular item for this site? And not on behalf of the motorist’s party – let your mind roam free on whatever topic you like – you have the gift!

#30
rosie_bubz3:48 pm, 08 Oct 08

wow – 2 hours and im finally finished!!! :)

na, great rant, i think everyone is just so fed up with the roads around canberra, i have never heard enyone EVER say anything good about roads or public transport wthin canberra

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