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The roads to chaos

By perkinsp - 2 June 2009 28

Back in 1964 looking south from Theodore Street Curtin were empty sheep paddocks stretching as far as the eye can see. The landscape was a blank canvas devoid of any existing structures and few geographical difficulties. Unlike Sydney there were no engineering problems posed by landscapes as challenging as the Blue Mountains, the Ku-ring-gai Chase and waterways. There was an opportunity to build something magnificent, something world class and a chance for Canberra to proudly create an innovative city worthy of the twentieth century and beyond. It could have been a role model for later Canberra neighbourhoods and cities elsewhere. Regrettably we got the sad road system that still exists today – Hindmarsh Gridlock, the Yamba Glacier, Smelrose Crawl and the Drakeford Dyke The only straight line east west road of any decent length in South Canberra is Hindmarsh Drive…whatever were they thinking?

The road planners have now inundated Canberrra with hundreds of sets of traffic lights, and the notion of a ‘green wave’ such as that experienced in Sydney and Melbourne is totally non-existent in the ACT. In fact it is the opposite. Canberra drivers are forced to stop at each set of lights. These primitive two way intersections festooned with outdated timed traffic lights allow up to twelve different traffic flows at each intersection. Usually the green light is so short that only a handful of cars get through an intersection. On other occasions a green light shines on a road completely devoid of cars. I understand that Sydney has over 2000 modern traffic lights which intelligently change lights to manage actual traffic flows. Why doesn’t Canberra have such an efficient system

Since the 1950’s cities all around the world have introduced one way traffic to overcome increasing traffic congestion. A well designed grid system of one way roads south of Yamba Drive could have reduced traffic directions from twelve directions to four directions….straight ahead and right OR straight ahead and left.

Canberra’s wide roads have progressively been officially vandalised by reducing two and three lanes to the dreaded “Lane one Form” format and an (often car sized) bike path. The volume of cars in Canberra is constantly increasing yet our road capacity is effectively cut in half. All this adds to ever increasing amounts of stress and petrol consumption (due to much longer travelling times). Canberra has become just a place waiting for accidents that have to happen.

Pale neutral coloured concrete impediments have also been introduced on the gutterside of many suburban roads. These can be difficult to see, especially at night, as evidenced by skid marks traversing such aberrations. We also have the addition of multiple steel poles with helpful notices advising motorists to keep left to avoid concrete hazzards.

I am sure that many Canberrans would be interested to know what road improvements the ACT Government has in mind to remedy the gridlock situation in South Canberra and elsewhere. Where is a stimulus infrastructure program when you really need one?

Is the ACT Government considering implementing one way roads to reduce traffic directions down from twelve directions down to two directions? Are they considering longer left and right exit lanes? Are they planning underpasses or overpasses especially over congested roundabouts? There are too many issues to list here but I do think Canberrans deserve some answers.

What’s Your opinion?


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28 Responses to
The roads to chaos
Peewee Slasher 2:56 pm 02 Jun 09

You’re so old Ceej1973:)

It is true that well designed roads are re-shaped by todays planners to accomodate cycle lanes or slow traffic. I noticed the recently completed work on Athllon Drive where it meets Isabella Drive (south of Bunnings). A cycle lane appears for about 100 metres and then re-enters the footpath. That seems completely pointless to me, but must have satisfied a planner. On Sunday, I drove south on Streeton Drive to find it has been tapered into one lane near the Cooleman Court shops, notably to accomodate a cycle lane.

I’m not necessarily aginst cycle lanes; I have cycled and have used them, but I avoid any cycle lanes that allow vehicles travelling at 80 km/hr, to cross my path. It’s just too risky.

The reality is that people will behave as they decide. That includes not needing to indicate, speeding up to get in front of that pain in the arse (me?), choosing to run the red light because everyone knows they build a time factor in till the other green light comes on.

The solution is to lead by example. I actually use my indicators to merge as I drive northbound into the Fyshwick flyover. I use it for more then 3 clicks. It works for me and I think, for others. I stop before the white line at the lights. I know there’s plenty of space in front, but I wait. Not obnoxiously, as if to antagonise other drivers, but patiently; relaxed but ready and alert.

I call it “Driving”.

amarooresident2 2:51 pm 02 Jun 09

OMG Traffic Lights! Won’t someone think of the children!

enrique 2:40 pm 02 Jun 09

We are blessed with a relative lack of traffic here in Canberra. If you really want to know what commuting hell is, go and spend a few weeks living in the not-so-central areas of Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne. In those areas you’re looking at commute times that span hours rather than minutes.

I’d be inclined to simply say suck it up people… but I do agree in some ways. Even though the time it takes to commute is not all that bad we definitely have some pretty $hite roads. Someone ought to give the road planners here a copy of Sim-City so they can figure out the basic principles.

shanefos 1:22 pm 02 Jun 09

Ceej1973 said :

Clown Killer said :

And what about giving way when leaving a slip ramp onto the Parkway or Adelaide avenue when they cross that broken line, instead of speeding up to 110kmh and assuming someone is gonna let them in just because the indicator is on.

So you’re one of those people that sits in the left hand lane when there is merging traffic. Because it’s oh-so safe for someone to try to enter a stream of traffic travelling at 80kmph from a standing start…
Probably sits in peoples’ blind-spots and ignores their indicators when they try to change lanes too.
Being even vaguely considerate of other drivers on the road is a skill you mustn’t have learned 20 years ago, huh?

chewy14 12:20 pm 02 Jun 09

TP 3000 said :

The only planning stuff up was the scrapping of Monash Drive in North Canberra, if that had been built as dual carriage way, Northbourne Ave would of been a breeze, but no the Greenies had to be given part control of the ACT.

But I did read somewhere that land has been set aside to make the Tuggeranong Parkway 3/4 lanes in each direction from Kambah to Glenloch Interchange, but that will never happen now

Something will have to happen to the Parkway, Cotter Road and Glenloch interchange in coming years.
Once Molonglo development starts, Coppins crossing road will have to be upgraded to an arterial road, and the capacity of the surrounding roads will be severely stretched.

Inappropriate 12:17 pm 02 Jun 09

Canberra roads aren’t that bad. I think they’re pretty good in comparison to what I dealt with.

The only time I run into problems is when rubberneckers stare at the pretty flashing lights of a cop car parked on the side of a road, or when it rains a little, and Canberrans forget how to drive in the rain.

Ceej1973 11:58 am 02 Jun 09

Clown Killer said :

… why has the responsibility of road users been removed and re-directed to signs and traffic lights?

Because anyone who has ever been at an intersection where the lights are out will know that Canberra drivers have absolutely no idea what the solid line on the road means … so we have to have the nanny state hold our hands for us.

Canberra traffic light etiquette is thus:

If the light is green proceed at full speed ahead. If the light is yellow, floor it – unless there’s a red light / speed camera in which case floor it and then stand on the brakes. If the light is red, change lanes wildly as you jockey for a better position to floor it once the light turns green.

If the lights are out or flashing yellow proceed as if they were green with complete disregard for basic road rules.

Agreed CK. And I dont think that if they did introduce my suggestion (god willing for the good drivers amongst us),that it would change the driving habits of the majority bad ones unfortunately. Further to your observations that I agree upon, what is the point of indicators on vehicles anymore when they are not used for lane changes or intersection turns? How hard is it when making a right turn in the inside lane at an intersection to stay in inside lane when turning into another road ? Couldnt red light runners at least show some worry or acknowledge that they have just done wrong when they are running a red, rather than carring on laughing with their passenger as if no law has just been broken? And what about giving way when leaving a slip ramp onto the Parkway or Adelaide avenue when they cross that broken line, instead of speeding up to 110kmh and assuming someone is gonna let them in just because the indicator is on. It seems Canberra drivers are increasingly (at a rapid rate) relying on the “Nanny State” driving rules, as well as forgetting common courtesy and lane change rules that they (supposably) learnt at driving school. I did my lessons and tests nearly 20 years ago now, and havnt forgotten the road rules. So many questions, too many bad inconsiderate drivers.

djk 11:53 am 02 Jun 09

Growling Ferret said :

Gridlock on the southside? hahahahaha
After living there for 28 years then moving to Gungahlin, you guys have no idea how good you get it.

You obviously havent driven from Banks, Conder or Gordon to the city lately. It takes me up to 35 minutes just to get to Tuggeranong on a bad day, about 20-25 mins on a good day. Roundabouts, roadworks, good samaritans wanting to let people in (who are required to give way to them), we have it all.

It is fine once you get to Tuggeranong/Greenway where the traffic lights do actually have a “green run” or whatever you want to call it.

TP 3000 11:49 am 02 Jun 09

The only planning stuff up was the scrapping of Monash Drive in North Canberra, if that had been built as dual carriage way, Northbourne Ave would of been a breeze, but no the Greenies had to be given part control of the ACT.

But I did read somewhere that land has been set aside to make the Tuggeranong Parkway 3/4 lanes in each direction from Kambah to Glenloch Interchange, but that will never happen now

Clown Killer 11:43 am 02 Jun 09

… why has the responsibility of road users been removed and re-directed to signs and traffic lights?

Because anyone who has ever been at an intersection where the lights are out will know that Canberra drivers have absolutely no idea what the solid line on the road means … so we have to have the nanny state hold our hands for us.

Canberra traffic light etiquette is thus:

If the light is green proceed at full speed ahead. If the light is yellow, floor it – unless there’s a red light / speed camera in which case floor it and then stand on the brakes. If the light is red, change lanes wildly as you jockey for a better position to floor it once the light turns green.

If the lights are out or flashing yellow proceed as if they were green with complete disregard for basic road rules.

peterh 11:34 am 02 Jun 09

Clown Killer said :

Agreed, WMD. I depart Kambah at 8.30am and arrive at my office in Kingston before 9.00am travelling via the post office in Manuka to pick up the mail. I think that the reality is more like Public Service Grad Prix rather than peak hour gridlock.

I depart kambah at 08.45, get to work 12 mins later. only “gridlock” is when I am coming home and someone has had an accident on the parkway. the slowdown is either 2 lanes blocked or heaps of rubberneckers…

Ceej1973 11:25 am 02 Jun 09

I am baffled too as too why traffic lights operate on major roads at 10, 11, 3 o’clock at night. What are those lines on the road at intersections really for. I thought an unbroken line means stop and give way, broken give way. So like other countries and some Australian cities, why not turn off traffic lights on major roads late at night, and let the line markings do thier work. I mean, these roads that have lights running 24/7 usually have well lit intersections anyway. Like previous threads and the issue of signage, why has the responsibility of road users been removed and re-directed to signs and traffic lights?

Clown Killer 11:24 am 02 Jun 09

Agreed, WMD. I depart Kambah at 8.30am and arrive at my office in Kingston before 9.00am travelling via the post office in Manuka to pick up the mail. I think that the reality is more like Public Service Grad Prix rather than peak hour gridlock.

Growling Ferret 11:22 am 02 Jun 09

Gridlock on the southside? hahahahaha

After living there for 28 years then moving to Gungahlin, you guys have no idea how good you get it.

Gungahlin Drive is five years away from being useful…

Woody Mann-Caruso 11:18 am 02 Jun 09

Drama much? Peak hour for me is when it takes 20 minutes to get from Tuggeranong Valley Heights to the Parliamentary Triangle instead of 15. Next time, please make sure to blame ‘gridlock’ on reptoids.

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