With the recent bollards strewn across Melbourne it seems like the council wants to have its cake and eat it too, blocking vehicles from reaching pedestrian areas while leaving vehicle access to pedestrian areas. So what happens when the fire brigade turns up?
The temporary concrete blocks at Queensbridge Square have been set into several rows to provide vehicle access to the area in approximately this layout (image care of google maps):
Conveniently google also provide surprisingly accurate measurement tools that allow us to see that there is approximately 14m of width between the two outer rows. Checking for access with the Austroads turning templates it can be seen that even a light rigid truck (6.4m or 21 feet in length) is unable to complete the turn:
Terminating into the retaining wall at the bottom of the curve, even small trucks would need to make several reversing manoeuvres to fit through, a smaller car or light commercial vehicle (the epitomist white van) could make it in a smooth movement. But back to the action, a fire truck is 8.4m (28 feet) long and needs a much wider space to turn. The metropolitan fire brigade of Melbourne even have a simple a clear document GL-27 “Planning Guidelines for Emergency Vehicle Access and Minimum Water Supplies within the Metropolitan Fire District” available publicly to describe their access needs, from which they require a 20m turning circle, or 17.5m for a 3 point turn.
This arrangement of bollards left the responding MFB trucks with the choice of making a time consuming multi point turn, or proceeding on foot. Of the 5 or more trucks that responded the others all parked on the street further away.
Lets begin a derisive slow clap and show our support for the Melbourne city council and their rushed, misdirected, and sloppy attempt at improving the safety of the public. Its a tough balance but these bollards are completely out of place, there are good examples of their application around the city such as Federation Square, but for something so easy to adjust leaving others in place with such obvious deficiencies continues to leave little confidence that the final solutions will be any better.