Brisbane appears to be obsessed with the need for traffic lights, writes bmag’s intrepid reporter, Max Moola.
Turn left from Stanley Street into Annerley Road and you will encounter six traffic lights in just under one kilometre. There will soon be eight.
The new Boggo Road development evidently merits two more. The ghosts of past inmates must be staring down from the walls wondering what buffoon designed this form of motorised stopstart hopscotch that’s being played out on a daily basis.
What is it with this city’s obsession with traffic lights? They seem to multiply at a greater rate of knots than the offspring of a family of rodents.
Every few days another light will appear on a minor road junction that boasts one car every 23 light years and in the meantime, a long line of traffic sits fuming (pun intended).
Heaven knows how much fuel is burnt every year in futile, unnecessary pit stops at lights that have the potential to cause accidents rather than prevent them.
I heard with amazement the other day that lights on most main roads were not syncronised. Why? And why not?
There was a time when you could go from one end of Ann Street to the other without stopping at a light. All you had to do was travel at the speed limit.
Jerking along in first and second gear would give Craig Lowndes motion sickness! In fact I’m sure there are some Brisbane drivers who have yet to experience the heartstopping exuberance of fourth gear.
So why this obsession with traffic lights? Can’t motorists drive through a couple of backstreets to meet up with a main road junction?
Is this too hard or is it simply that a council bureaucrat lives on the off-street and wants instant access to the main thoroughfare?
In Bangkok they built 23 kilometres of skyrail in under two years. On Settlement Road in the Gap they spent nearly two years widening about one hundred metres of road. They then installed a traffic light before the road once again tapered back to one lane, eventually becoming two lanes again 50 metres later. Obviously the designer of that little traffic-planning masterpiece was a permanent pedestrian.
Siem Reap in Cambodia is a bustling, booming tourist town that feeds hundreds of thousands of tourists into Angkor Wat every year. It has two traffic lights. Two! Yet somehow the traffic moves smoothly.
So what’s the answer? Obviously we’re going to have to change our whole driving culture and follow these steps:
1. Teach young drivers that just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you own it;
2. Pulverize, preferably painfully, at least two-thirds of the city’s traffic lights. Of course there’ll be a few mishaps, but eventually a whole new driving culture will seep in.
I think it’s worth a try. Now about being able to turn left on red lights…