When it comes to event road closures, Canberrans are bad sports

Tim Gavel 18 February 2020 24

Are we tolerant when it comes to road closures for sports events? Photo: Supplied.

As the ACT Government prepares for Stage 2 of light rail, fasten your seatbelts because it promises to be a wild ride.

No, I’m not talking about the cost or the speed of light rail, it’s more to do with the reaction from Canberrans when there is even the slightest impact on travel time.

There is already disquiet at what can, at best, be termed moderate travel delays. Not surprising really in a growing city, and minor when compared with daily traffic jams experienced in Sydney or Melbourne.

The low tolerance level among Canberrans is probably best exhibited when roads are closed for sporting events such as cycle races or triathlons. We see this lack of tolerance when impatient, self-righteous motorists force cyclists off the road.

That frustration has reached Olympic proportions a couple of times.

It reached its zenith during the three-year duration of the Canberra 400 V8 Super Car race between 2000 and 2002.

It was the time to be alive, as the Parliamentary Triangle was closed off before, during and after the race.

Morning talkback radio and letters to the editor became consumed with disgruntled motorists impacted by the road closures.

There was a suggestion that the significant cost of hosting the event determined its demise, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the disruption created by the road closures and the subsequent outrage was at least a contributing factor.

Another in my top five was the reaction when parts of Civic were blocked off for a criterion as part of the Commonwealth Bank Cycling Classic.

The race, which took place several times during the 1990s, featured a street leg in Canberra.

The inconvenience, as you can well imagine, didn’t sit well with plenty of Canberrans.

There seems to be something about Canberrans and cycling. You either love the use of roads for cyclists and wish there were more roads closed, and if this happened, believe it encourages more people to cycle; or you don’t! I confess I am firmly entrenched in the cyclist camp.

I can envisage Canberra being the home of major road cycling events in Australia.

Then there is a section of the community who deplore everything about cyclists and cycling events, resulting in high blood pressure at the mere mention of cycling and, heaven forbid, road closures.

As I said at the start, if the tolerance level among Canberrans to cyclists and cycling races is anything to go by, it’s going to be a wild couple of years.

What's Your Opinion?

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24 Responses to When it comes to event road closures, Canberrans are bad sports
HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 8:24 pm 21 Feb 20

“Not surprising really in a growing city, and minor when compared with daily traffic jams experienced in Sydney or Melbourne.”

Canberrans who would rather be living in Sydney or Melbourne, or some other much larger city, might think that this is another example of Canberra losing the benefits of a “small town” without gaining (local hype and boosterism aside) the real benefits of larger cities.

rationalobserver rationalobserver 11:38 pm 20 Feb 20

I am very much in favour of road closures for bicycle races.
Let them race up Northbourne Ave and onwards deep into NSW.
Then close the road.

Damaris Wilson Damaris Wilson 12:33 am 20 Feb 20

The latest roundabout has just appeared on Masson Street in Turner. It's a nightmare there at peak hour, made even worse now by this monstrosity, with yet another pedestrian crossing just after an exit - why in heaven's name is it necessary to put speed bumps/traffic calming devices at the exits of roundabouts; who is speeding at this point??

Tracy Gorman Tracy Gorman 11:57 pm 19 Feb 20

A cyclist reporter reporting his views. No surprises at the content of the article.

Geoff Williams Geoff Williams 11:31 pm 19 Feb 20

Triathlon Act feedback...

ChrisinTurner ChrisinTurner 10:37 pm 19 Feb 20

The signage warning of an upcoming closure is put up about one week in advance. Why do some Canberrans take so long to work out how to detour? Perhaps TAFE could run a course on route planning.

    DJA DJA 6:18 am 21 Feb 20

    Because we are not all Canberrans, and sometimes we might take that route once every couple of weeks. And when I am driving, I prefer to concentrate on the road and the current traffic rather than suddenly trying to navigate a new route into unfamiliar surrounds (especially when there is no clear indication of a viable detour).

DJA DJA 5:06 pm 19 Feb 20

As an out of towner, I am always amazed by the ACT’s ability to close main thoroughfares during busy times to pander to the lycra brigade (sorry: sports cyclists undertaking a competitive event). There was one occasion where not only was Parkes Way closed, but so was Anzac Avenue and parts of Northbourne Avenue. As an out of towner I had no real idea of where to go and ended up getting lost in the back streets of some university somewhere. So – yes – I get frustrated by a lack of planning, clear detours and options for those who only know the main thoroughfares. Especially at known busy times like a Saturday morning! Compound this with the ACT’s inability to do roadworks in a timely fashion and the traffic chaos that ensues. Roadworks and road closures for sporting events combined!

Amanda Evans Amanda Evans 3:48 pm 19 Feb 20

It's probably because there aren't too many alternatives in and out of each urban area.

    Michael Roy Michael Roy 7:45 am 21 Feb 20

    Amanda Evans an example of one of the failings of a dendritic road network.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 7:27 am 22 Feb 20

    Michael Roy so how do you fix it then? Where do you bulldoze to put in these alternative routes?

Randy Goldberg Randy Goldberg 3:10 pm 19 Feb 20

Many Satnavs, map apps, etc have the capability of receiving traffic information. It's my frustration when works are scheduled but these traffic facilities aren't made use of by the governments when the roads are closed.

Recently, Parkes Way westbound was closed for a sporting even but there weren't (as far as I was aware) any signs warning of the closure nor did the traffic info on my gps know about it.

Happy to put up with the road closures as long as sufficient notice ON THE ROADS TO BE IMPACTED is given.

    Matthew Beale Matthew Beale 3:12 pm 19 Feb 20

    Randy there were signs out for a week or so previous to the event stating Parkes Westbound would be closed.

    These signs were along Parkes way itself.

    Randy Goldberg Randy Goldberg 8:56 am 20 Feb 20

    Matthew Beale Guess I don't travel Parkes Way sufficiently to always see them.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 7:32 am 22 Feb 20

    Randy Goldberg satnavs and maps get their information from monitoring mobile phones on roads, it then uses that data to determine if the road is congested or closed.

    Just recently somewhere in Europe (think Germany) a guy put hundreds of mobile phones in a trolley and walked down the street pulling the trolley and all the mapping systems determined the path he was taking was heavily congested and started navigating around it despite the road being clear. He basically tricked the system.

Susanne Gardiner Susanne Gardiner 1:32 pm 19 Feb 20

Meh. Just go another way.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:21 am 19 Feb 20

“I confess I am firmly entrenched in the cyclist camp.”

Many of us do not share your enthusiasm, Tim.

Jim Jim Jim Jim 9:41 am 19 Feb 20

You are massively out of touch Tim Gavel if you suggest light rail round 1 had the ‘slightest impact on travel time’. It was a complete farce. Anyone who actually experienced the delays and adhoc road and traffic signal closures in the inner north along Northbourne would agree. A good example - taking my kids from Downer to O’Connor for school took 10 minutes, but with light rail 1, was taking up to 25 minutes. That’s one suburb away.

    Corey Karl Corey Karl 1:00 pm 19 Feb 20

    Jim Hosie you are right !!! The ones laughing at people trying to commute or run a business in the area during stage one clearly didnt have to deal with it !! It was a shambles !! And continued on long after the rail was operational

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 9:36 am 19 Feb 20

To play devil’s advocate; what frustrates is when road closures, and I’m talking purely those caused by road works, are not coordinated. There are plenty of examples when the major arterial roads in Canberra all have road works at the same time, so delays are experienced no matter what route is taken.

The other frustration is the lack of notice of said roadworks. Quite often the first time one becomes aware of the road works is when they get caught up in the traffic delays. A bit of notice would allow people to plan a longer commute.

grim123 grim123 9:25 am 19 Feb 20

Yes, lets completely close of Parkes Way, one of the major thoroughfares into the CBD and the airport, for a bike race. Or, you know, not shut off one of our most heavily used roads and have the bike race somewhere more sensible.

Kriso Hadskini Kriso Hadskini 9:09 am 19 Feb 20

Too many revheads in Canberra. If it doesn't involve an engine, the boyracers (Hi to the silver BMW doing around 100 in a 60 zone in Belco yesterday) get super upset and start talking about who pays rego to use the roads. If only they would stop regarding their vehicles as their whole personality, then they might have more tolerance on the road, and a better personality to boot.

    Amy Hemsworth Amy Hemsworth 9:18 am 19 Feb 20

    Kriso Hadskini remember how we used to have the GMC 500 here? That involved road closures and guess what? That got canned so stop saying we're all for motor sport events when you clearly have no idea

    Glen Tobin Glen Tobin 9:32 am 19 Feb 20

    Amy Hemsworth

    It’s funny how short the memory is of some people in Canberra

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