Each month I get the RACV magazine, Royalauto; and almost without fail, I am appalled by their dated, conservative, tunnel-vision approach to problems on our roads.
This month, the cover boasts a “Special Roads Report. Congestion: the solutions“, so I thought I’d see what the 1950’s think tank had come up with this time. Living in an inner suburb that is already suffering under the effects of Citylink and now in the firing line of the new ‘East-West’ proposals – I have a vested interest in a creative solution that works for all.
The article heads off in a predictable manner, mostly just stating the totally bleeding obvious, it’s getting worse (oh, duh!). Then it goes to a series of bullet point ‘solutions‘. For the sake of brevity, I won’t demolish these one by one, but sufffice to say that all, (yes, 100%) of the short term solutions offered are focussed on making driving easier. Getting more people on the road, to their destination etc. In other words, a Growth Model.
Now, any fool with a pocket calculator can see that growth models are unsustainable. If you don’t know what that means (say you’re from the RACV), it means that it might be a solution now, but it’s just delaying the crunch. As if to highlight their stupidity, the article points out that in the 90’s things were better. What’s happened in the interim? – Growth! So, they’ve provided an example of why their own arguments are wrong.
What’s missing from their solutions? Well, things with two wheels for a start, but so much more… I’ve got a few of my own to throw into the mix 🙂
- Aim for zero growth – no new roads. Road spending to be limited to maintenance and safety works. Safety works to be focussed on speed reduction, not fitting more cars onto the road.
- Ban single occupant vehicles from the CBD, except for designated routes to drop-off/pickup points
- Halve the cost of public transport during low use periods – eg: before 6:30am, 10am – 3pm, after 7pm
- Dramatically improve the lot of cyclists and small capacity (<500cc) motorcyclists through provision of on road facilities, adjustments to road use legislation, parking facilities, reduced fees and charges.
OK, so it’s just a few off-the-cuff ideas, but I’m serious about the ‘no growth’. I remember when I got my licence so many years ago, I was told that driving was a privilege, not a right. If our city is to avoid drowning in bitumen, oil and exhaust fumes, we have to realise that it’s a privilege we can no longer afford to indulge on a daily basis. Discretionary car travel is a thing of the past, if there is an alternative, we will soon be forced to use it – whether by economic or legislative forces. It’s as simple as that.