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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Traffic trouble? Don't Worry, I've Got A Plan.

Before we moved to the Apple Isle I was sent ahead on a scouting mission to look for a house.
I was given strict instructions that our new home would need to fulfil three inviolable prerequisites: it had to be on a quiet, virtually traffic-free street, preferably a cul de sac; be in immaculate condition – preferably self-cleaning; and within walking distance of the city.
The first was necessary because we have three cats, all of whom treat cars with the same disdain that old people treat everybody younger than themselves; the second was necessary because I was suffering from a severe case of renovation fatigue.
The third was born out of desire to avoid the grinding morning and afternoon traffic gridlocks that were becoming the norm in Perth.
My scouting mission failed, so Mrs S took over. Armed with her own strict instructions, she bought a semi-ruin that hadn’t seen a paint-brush – let alone a plumber, carpenter, electrician, plaster or gardener – for about 30 years on probably the busiest stretch of main road in town.
Within hours of moving in it became apparent that the house would require emergency renovation surgery just to remain standing long enough for us to unpack our belongings, and the cats would require an ambulance on stand-by 24-7.
It is, however, within walking distance of the city centre. I walk to the city, or the local supermarket, pretty much every day. I can go so long without using my car that I need a machete just to clear the undergrowth from around the wheels when I do eventually need it.
In any event, we needn’t have worried about peak-hour road rage in Launceston. If there are more than six cars stuck at a set of traffic lights at 5pm on a Friday, the drivers ring the local radio station to complain about the traffic jam.
Which is why, I suppose, a journey through Melbourne’s peak hour traffic – we were lucky, we got to experience both morning and afternoon – came as such a shock.
Melbourne peak hour traffic is, literally, the pits. We thought that Perth peak hour traffic was the pits, but I now see that that opinion just exposed us for the yokels that we are.
It took 90 minutes from the airport to the city. Ninety minutes! And we had an honest taxi driver!
I had seen Melbourne peak hour traffic before, but only from the point of view of someone who didn’t give a shit about the time and couldn’t care less about how stressed the east coast city slickers got in the morning.
I’m not having a go at Melbourne, you understand. Sydney – being a shit-hole - is probably worse and Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart will understand where I’m coming from. No, I’m having a go at our obsession with cars.
The Greens don’t like cars – unless they manage to get elected to parliament, of course. Then they just love cars. Nice, big, flash complimentary cars that come complete with complementary driver and free fossil-fuel card.
Oh, and they love cars when it comes to demanding that Governments continue to bankroll slovenly, inefficient, salary-bloated local car manufacturers.
You might think that this would be a decidedly odd policy position for an organisation that exists primarily to protect the environment, and you would be right.
The Greens, however, have long abandoned any real care for the environment. What they are about it is money or, more correctly, taxpayers’ money.
The Greens want everybody and everything to be in the employ of Government, thus enabling us to get rid of filthy capitalists and their running dogs and progress to utopian societies of the type established by human rights luminaries of yore like Stalin and Mao.
The next a time a Green wants to cry over assistance for the auto industry, he/she might want to look into the pivotal role a certain car maker – with the initials G and M in its name – played in the demise of tram/trolley car public transport systems in major American cities, all so people would have to buy more cars.
Well, fuck The Greens, and the horse that donated its face to Christine Milne.
Somebody has to step up to the plate and tackle the problem of traffic congestion in our cities and if they won’t do it, I will.
As a Green for a day, I suggest a five-point plan.

1: Withdraw immediately any and all tax payer-funded assistance to motor vehicle manufacturers. In fact, charge the bastards half-a-billion dollars to operate here. Car manufacturing in Australia has been little more than a money-laundering front for the AMWU for years anyway, so its demise can only be a good thing.

2: Ban the use of all private vehicles within a 5km radius of every capital city GPO. Public transport, commercial delivery vehicles, scooters and taxis to be only vehicles permitted within the arc. The only people permitted to use taxis to be the disabled. NB: being fat and lazy is NOT a disability.
This would also go a long way to combating our growing obesity epidemic. Every day, thousands of tubbies wile away the time stuck in traffic jams stuffing their faces. Get ‘em off their fat arses and on their feet.

3. Every Commonwealth, State and Local Government to rid itself of its vehicle fleet immediately. Employees who formerly needed a vehicle for work purposes to travel to be issued with a bus/tram/train pass. Note: getting to and from work is not a ‘work purpose’. Employees who need vehicles to do their job get a scooter.

4. On-the-spot $1000 fines to be issued to anybody caught on a single-occupant car journey within 10kms of a capital city GPO. Sell multi-storey CBD car parks for conversion to apartments. The money raised will go towards building inner city tram networks.

5. Fine any cyclist caught with 20km of the GPO $10,000. This won’t do anything to ease traffic congestion, but it will wipe the smiles of the faces of those smug, arrogant, road-hogging, lycra-clad arseholes.

So, there you have it. I think that is a plan that anyone who cares about the environment would applaud. The Greens won’t like it of course, because it doesn’t involve UN control, stops them from using their nice, big tax-payer funded cars and has no provision for keeping the likes of Tim Flannery on the public tit, but you can’t please everybody.