Monday, 30 January 2012

Pop up park in the village

One of the streets in my village has been closed.  I'm so happy!  We're getting a pop up park!   What a fabulous idea - closing car access to facilitate better pedestrian access within a community that has a lot of pedestrians. It seems so obvious.  I walked past this afternoon and the plastic turf is partially laid.  At this moment a survey if the site requires a good dose of imagination.

I've often wondered about the traffic planning within Yarraville.  The shopping heart is made up of a cross road and it's always busy.  Place a train station and a level crossing at one end of the busiest street (the one that is the main thoroughfare), add in streets that are just wide enough for one car when cars are parked in both sides of the street and you have a recipe for gridlock and frustration.  To say nothing of pedestrians illegally crossing the tracks and risking their lives instead of missing their train.  (There was a pedestrian underpass here - it was closed in 1997 and replaced with the current arrangement.)

Generally when I'm going to the village, I walk.  The only time I will take my car is when I'm on my way to or from somewhere else and need to stop off on the way.  On these occasions, it is incredible to witness the displays of stupidity, bad manners and frustration of drivers.  As I've mentioned, there is only room for one car to pass when there are cars parked on both sides of the streets - and there are always cars parked on both sides of the street.  To relieve some of the congestion, there are a couple of bays where it's illegal to park so that people can pull in and allow cars coming in the other direction to pass.  They work really well, unless they are blocked because people have actually parked there!

This is when the fun starts.  Imagine the streets with no where to pull over and the boom gates down on the level crossing at the other end of the road.  None of the traffic can go anywhere while ever these are the prevailing conditions. Incoming traffic doesn't know what's going on until it gets there.  Oh boy!  Sometimes the boom gates can be down for what seems like an eternity.

The other day I was in this very situation. I was approaching the cross road to take a right turn and get the hell out.  The traffic in front of me was banked right back to the major cross road in the heart of the village while it waited for the trains to pass.  As I prepared to make my right hand turn, a car coming from the street I was turning into, turned right, blocking my path.  It was unable to move because the boom gates were down and the traffic was stopped.  Now no one could go anywhere!

There are a couple of possible explanations for this behaviour. Firstly, the driver was not local and didn't understand the conditions.  Secondly, the driver's ego meant that that driver's destination was the most important thing on the road that day.  Thirdly, some people are just stupid.  Makes me wonder how they are even driving on the road.

I hope that bad tempers, bad driving and bad manners don't mar the happiness of a pop up park.  It will mean cars have to go somewhere else and it will take out about eight premium parking spaces from the village.  It's going to be there for three months.  I wonder why we can't have it forever?  How lovely if the plastic grass was replaced with the real stuff.  Then we'd have a real park.  I wish we were getting a real park.

(The Age report includes a nifty picture of the street where the park will pop.)

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