Real life Frogger
By James Mackness
Those of a certain age may remember Frogger (the video game of guiding frogs home across a busy road). Well, sometimes crossing roads in Melbourne feels a little like that.
I do more than my fair share of walking as I haven’t owned a car for coming up to 10 years now (although most of that time was in London where a car often feels more a hindrance than a convenience). I know I’m in the minority in Melbourne not owning a car, but if I need one there’s always a GoGet round the corner (other car share services are available).
When it comes to creating a more walkable Melbourne I can’t help but feel a huge improvement could be achieved with one small change. If every set of traffic lights at intersections was set to automatically include pedestrian crossing signals without the button being pressed it would make a huge difference. Many crossings are already set up that way, probably mostly contained to the CBD, but there’s a significant enough number that people often assume that it’s the default state. I regularly see people waiting patiently at the lights without having pressed the button, leading them to wait considerably longer than necessary. It’s also frustrating to arrive at the lights in almost perfect timing, but because no one else has pressed the button you have to wait a whole cycle – well you should do, I often walk across, but I think that’s the British nature, we love to queue for everything aside from crossing roads!
I don’t even think this change would lead to a huge inconvenience to car drivers; after all you can still turn if there are no pedestrians crossing the road. If you’re a traffic engineer and can answer this one, please put a comment below.
Streetscape improvements are ongoing all over Melbourne lately, such as Brunswick Street in Fitzroy which is currently being upgraded to provide at grade footpaths across all of the side streets (see image). This project also includes reclaiming some road pavement back for uses such as bicycle parking and outside dining. While it is a fantastic initiative, these types of work require a significant capital outlay. My proposal for a more walkable Melbourne should be virtually free, assuming required changes can be made remotely or during routine maintenance.
It’s a small change, but could make a big difference to us poor peds.
For those of you interested in experiencing my daily commute, please see the below link:
Also Diabetes Australia Walk to Work Day is not too far away on Friday 6 October 2017, maybe some of your daily commute could be swapped for a walk: