Queuing through intersections – Melbourne’s latest fad?

From the time I spend walking around the Melbourne CBD to and from work, it seems that the latest fad for motorists is queuing through intersections.

Dimwit blocks the pedestrian crossing at Swanston and Collins Streets

These dimwits block pedestrian crossing throughout the city, forcing anyone on foot to dodge and weave their way through whatever gaps remain.

Cars block pedestrians at the corner of William and Lonsdale Streets

They also block trams, forcing dozens of peak hour commuters to sit and wait while the clueless motorists sit their in their own bubble of ignorance.

Cars delays trams as the queue through the intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets

Sometimes the drivers who get stuck in the middle of the intersection do so inadvertently, entering the ‘box’ as soon as the light turn green, in the naive hope that the traffic in front of them would clear.

They you have douchebags like this BMW driver, who decided to enter the intersection just as it was turning red, and ended up blocking an the entire street of westbound motorists.

Dickhead in a BMW enters the intersection despite having no way out

In any case, it seems that even the most obvious intersection in Melbourne is not immune to the curse of the imbecile motorist, with the pedestrian crossing outside Flinders Street Station even getting blocked.

More dimwits blocking the pedestrian crossing outside Flinders Street Station

So why the hell is queuing through intersection so common in Melbourne? Are our motorists getting dumber as the years pass, or have I just being paying more attention to their stupidity?

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22 Responses to “Queuing through intersections – Melbourne’s latest fad?”

  1. Michael Greenhill says:

    Drivers in Melbourne are idiots. The thing that pisses me off the most is not using your indicator – you literally have to move your finger an inch to flick a lever. If you’re that lazy, you don’t deserve a car.

    • Adrian says:

      +1
      I’ve actually written an email to the RACV to ask whether there has been an increase in accidents related to lack of indicator use and they told me it’s not a tracked metric so they really don’t know. In my experience using indicators is in decline.

  2. Andrew says:

    It is a serious problem, but like you wonder, why has it only started happening in the last couple of years? Both Vic Roads and Yarra Trams have good camera views of Flinders and Swanston Streets yet neither do anything about the problem.

  3. jon says:

    Why don’t the cops take some time off from fining pedestrians for jaywalking and start fining motorists for blocking intersections? It is actually illegal after all.

  4. Elwood says:

    They need to bring back the police on point duty, at least for the afternoon peak.

    • Marcus says:

      I occasionally see police out on Collins Street directing traffic in peak hour, but it seems to be more of a training exercise for new officers, not a targeted move to make motorists do the right thing.

      Victoria Police directing traffic in Melbourne

  5. enno says:

    No police enforcement.

  6. gobillino says:

    I recently missed three green cycles while on a tram on Swanston Street between Flinders and Latrobe for this very reason! Amazing that there has not yet been a more concerted enforcement campaign

  7. Sparkie says:

    It’s even starting to happen in Ballarat now!

  8. Dave says:

    To be honest the amount of money Victoria Police would make from increased CBD enforcement would easily offset the cost of doing so.
    You’d get a guarateed red light runner or two at most intersections per hour, a intersection blocker at least once every six minutes, a bunch of failing to keep clear (especially prevalent at the new MacArthur Ave tram stop) plus you could also get a few pedestrians, if you felt like targeting the group most likely to be injured by others’ failings.

    • Marcus says:

      There has to be *some* reason to cause the Victoria Police not take the easy money – the politicians push them to do introduce dubious programs Protective Services Officers, so why can’t politicians ask them to book bad drivers?

      For infringements like queuing through an intersection, the people fined might try and get some sympathy for getting booked, but for other obvious money makers such as red light cameras at railway level crossings, the safety reasons behind them are obvious.

  9. scott says:

    Yesterday I was pulled over by the police and booked in West Brunswick for disobeying a sign that said do not turn right between 7am to 9am

  10. SkUrRiEr says:

    As a motorist, I feel that there is more to it than just ignorance / stupidity.

    Disclaimer: I’m a motorist and have to drive through the CBD or docklands every day as part of my commute (Tottenham -> Brunswick -> South Melbourne and back again) – We commute due to a lack of reliable public transport between Sunshine and Brunswick – the best we have found is bus, train, train and the bus and second train are unreliable.

    I’ve done this on several occasions, mainly when I’ve been frustrated with traffic, tired, and / or misjudged how fast or far the traffic is going to move.

    From my experience, the real bad spots for this are anywhere along Flinders’ street (it barely moves east-bound during rushhour) with the turn from the Queen’s Street Bridge / Williams St north bound into Flinders’ Street east bound being the worst. It frequently gets bad enough that the lights can cycle without the turning traffic moving.

    In my opinion, I think this is a symptom of a much larger problem: gridlock during rush hour in the CBD, which has been exacerbated recently due to what appear to be significantly higher levels of traffic over recent months.

    On “bad” days, I’ve seen queues of cars trying to enter the CBD as far away as the docklands end of Collins Street (it’s usually bumper to bumper all the way into the CBD) and Lorimer Street at Hartley street leading onto Wurundjeri way which is usually stop start in the right hand lane(s) from somewhere between South Wharf and the Flinders’ Street turnoff all the way to Dudley Street.

    Personally, I don’t know of any real solution to this problem. My understanding of it is that traffic lights are going green unnecessarily (when there’s nowhere for cars to go) or multiple lights are cycling together in a way which prevents cars from moving (I’ve driven up Swanston beside Melbourne Uni when the crossing lights for the superstop happened to synchronise badly so that they prevented the traffic from moving) or specific lights have timings which don’t match the traffic load on the road. (South bound on Mount Alexander Road towards the CityLink intersection is a good example, it’s pretty much clear and fast from Essendon all the way to Ascot Vale with some minor slow downs in Moonee Ponds, then there’s usually a large queue in the last km before CityLink then it’s clear all the way to Haymarket.)

    In my opinion, reviewing traffic light timings or synchronising traffic lights on particularly bad routes would be a good start. Making traffic lights smart enough to not go green if there’s nowhere for the traffic to go should make a huge difference, but I’m not sure if that’s enough to solve the problem.

    • Marcus says:

      Gridlock in the CBD does seem a likely cause of increased queuing through intersections. As you mention: drivers can often misjudge how fast the traffic actually moving, enter the intersection at the start of the green cycle expecting they will be able to exit it in a timely manner, only for the cars ahead stay still, trapping them there.

      My real anger is saved for the dickheads who see the traffic lights changing to amber and the cars ahead not moving, yet still decide to zap ahead into the middle of the intersection and block it. Those idiots usually seem to be middle-aged white guys in suits, who presumably think they are more important than everyone else.

    • Gobillino says:

      “Making traffic lights smart enough to not go green if there’s nowhere for the traffic to go should make a huge difference, but I’m not sure if that’s enough to solve the problem.”

      Sorry for a delayed response to an old post. I may be misinterpreting the above, but wouldnt the lights also need to turn green to allow PEDESTRIANS to cross?!? Walking is well and truly the most efficient mode for moving people around the CBD (and moves by far the most amount of people) so the fact that cars can’t clear an intersection is irrelevant. The lights need to change for the pedestrians…

      • Julian Calaby says:

        Hi Gobillino,

        You make a very good point which I had overlooked.

        Of course any “smart” traffic light that doesn’t allow cars through until there is space on the other side would also have to be smart enough to deal with all the other potential situations that could arise, e.g. trams, pedestrians, right / left turn lanes, buses, etc.

        There’s two real options I see for this:
        1. Implement a rule along the lines of “nobody will wait more than X minutes” i.e. if a pedestrian pushes the button, a tram arrives, there is right turn traffic, etc. the lights will permit them to enter the intersection within 5 minutes, guaranteed. (unless their exit from the intersection is blocked, of course)

        2. Have the relevant lights go green without the “blocked” traffic lights going green. I.e. a cycle that’s only for trams / pedestrians / right turn traffic.

        The problem with these solutions is that the traffic light cycles would have to be much more adaptive than they currently are. E.g. what happens if a car wants to turn right, but forward movement is blocked? We could stop cross traffic and let the right turners go, but then there’s a lot of questions that need to be answered: What happens if the cars blocking forward movement leave? What happens if this lets a tram into the intersection? What happens if right turn traffic is now blocked? What about the cars that speculatively entered the intersection to turn right? What about pedestrians? What about the bus that wants to go straight? What if all four directions are blocked? What about the timings that the traffic engineers determined were required? How do we ensure good traffic flow? How do we make motorists happier? How do we ensure that cars actually move through the intersection?

        I believe that if doing this was “simple” it would have already been done. The fact that I’m pretty sure I can’t answer most of those questions makes me think that it’s a lot more complicated than I think it aught to be.

  11. [...] I’ve blogged about idiot drivers queuing through intersections, and police holding jaywalking blitzes. So what has changed in the past few [...]

  12. Brian says:

    Of course, let’s not forget about all the pedestrians who continue to leave the kerb long after the red DON’T WALK sign starts flashing, thus blocking motorists trying to turn left or right. Many times I have seen just one car get through on each green traffic light phase.

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