car in the middle of an intersection showing a green pedestrian crossing signal

Suppressing Pedestrians

Signalised crossings are already the motor centric solution to interactions with pedestrians, but even with this inherent advantage motorists will push for more.

Above is pictured a pedestrian crossing on one arm of the intersection of Salmon Street and the Holden (General Motors) headquarters. In typical cost saving fashion pedestrian signals are not provided across all the arms and to cross the T junction across this direction requires pedestrians to request with a button press and then wait for two separate signals. Being an intersection the car is not sitting and waiting for the lights to change but instead:

the car is captured in the middle of the intersection when the pedestrian signals have already turned green. There is an audible blip of the pedestrian phase signalling to blind users that it is now safe to cross (tactile paving to assist people with vision problems are also pictured) yet that would have them walking into the front side of the car. So a hello to the driver of this grey Ford with licence plates 1CR 8TM, your disregard for the safety of others is noted.

This intersection is used as a “rat run” to avoid the congested highway entry/exits with cars frequently running the red lights and making illegal u-turns in their rush. Such clear and unjustifiable offences get a once a year or so “blitz” from the police who sit past the intersection and fine the occasional driver but even at these shows of force there are too many people breaking the law for the police to stop them all. The intersection its self is a comedy of errors worthy of some future posts but the issue of compliance with red lights is so ingrained in the drivers of Melbourne it has been said in jest

Welcome to Melbourne, Red lights are indicative only

Not through there being a law, but through the choice of the Police force to not enforce it. Having witnessed on many occasions police officers sitting in their cars or on foot at an intersection with drivers freely running red lights in full view of them its clear that both the police do not care and the population have realised this and now have no fear in breaking the law in full view of those who are supposed to uphold it. Police are supposed to serve the community and make people feel safe, not support the dominance of motor transport contrary to law.

Automated enforcement technology is available and in routine use throughout the rest of Australia, but the small number of functioning red light cameras in Melbourne are hopelessly inadequate and provide such limited coverage that as with fixed speed cameras the locals quickly know the few locations where they have to be “careful” rather than simply obeying the law at all times.

The asymmetry of interactions between motor vehicles and pedestrians is the root of the problem. Drivers see no problem with running a red light when just a pedestrian stands in their way, but would never consider the same if a large truck was in the same position. One poses a threat to their personal safety and the other can get out of the way. This is not a victimless crime just because no-one gets hurt, pedestrians feeling unsafe and being delayed should be recognised as serious consequences for society, further entrenching personal motor transport as the only option.


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