Adelaide in South Australia should be perfect… wonderful beaches, surrounding hills with superb wineries & small town hamlets, weather better than almost anywhere, albeit sometimes hot, & very little strife of the sort we read in the news. Of course, you can often spot things that might be done or could have been done a little bit better…
Take the popular new generation trams from Germany & Spain. Unlike cities in Europe that take them underground as they reach the CBD, in Adelaide they have decided to bring them right down the centre of the busiest main streets; not withstanding the parklands on all sides being ideal for taking them below. And air-conditioned – just.
Take too the popular bicycle lanes in a city that has mostly flat terrain. Unlike cities elsewhere that put them between the pedestrians and parking lane, in Adelaide they have put them between the cars parked at roadside and the traffic. Helps big trucks to suction bike riders into the traffic itself or parking drivers to open car doors into the path of unsuspecting cyclists.
Higher capacity roads are mostly enhancements after there is a problem when they disrupt existing traffic for ages as built and cost orders of magnitude more to construct than had they been put in before the development they pass through. Admittedly a couple of new fast roads have been implemented on the outskirts of late but what about the existing congestion? I have seen elevated highways in Austin & Oahu – essentially continuous bridges. Why not build such over the existing freight train corridors that were put in before all the development and do follow straight lines into and out of town? Little traffic would be disrupted as they were built and horrendously expensive land acquisitions would be mostly avoided. And in future: why not build the freeways ahead of development as for instance they did in Canberra and do in Dallas?
Other alternatives exist to simplifying high density traffic too. The roads around the parklands that surround the CBD are a nightmare to transit. Why not recess some of these into canyons that slip roads descent to and cross streets travel over on bridges? Good examples exist in Dallas. Traffic flows fast and smoothly on those. Micro-roundabouts used in Adelaide generate accidents. Roundabouts work better when on a larger scale!
Now I understand that timing at traffic lights is optimal when each green period takes account of relative traffic flows on each road entering the intersection and must have regard for second order effects if some contributing roads back up too much…
however, when it is really busy simply increasing all the green periods will usually help because so much time is otherwise spent getting traffic to move off & slow down.
And while on the subject of traffic lights, surely controlled intersections on the major roads out of town should get independent uninterruptible power supplies (UPS)? As matters stand, simple power blackouts cause chaos on main roads. Any need to evacuate the parts of the city (think earthquake, invasion, tsunami) might well meet gridlock.
The better ways of doing things suggested above can be seen in action elsewhere in the world. Clearly politicians on taxpayer-funded study tours do not always take in what they ‘see’ around them – perhaps we should all give them a bit of nudge?