Stupidity on Swanston Street

Melbourne’s Swanston Street: once upon a time you could drive down it, until last year when four new platform stops were built to make it easier for passengers to board trams.

New Swanston Street platform stop at Bourke Street

One would think these new obstructions to traffic would make it impossible for motorists to accidentally drive down the road, but it seems that the universe is quite capable of creating an even more clueless form of idiot.

Some dingbats have trouble understanding the ‘don’t queue through an intersection’ concept.

Some dingbats have trouble understanding the 'don't queue through an intersection' concept

This person figured queuing across the intersection in front of a police car was a good idea. (unfortunately they didn’t get booked – see footnote…)

Z1.92 waiting to cross the blocked intersection of Flinders and Swanston Streets, the police can't get through either!

With tram stops or pedestrian malls on all sides, I’m not how the hell this red car ended up at the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets headed south, but they managed to block a westbound tram for a minute or so.

I'm not how the hell this red car ended up at the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets, but they've managed to block tram A1.250

This moron from north of the border drove west through the middle of the Bourke Street tram stop, then south into Swanston Street.

Dingbat from north of the border tries to turn from Bourke into Swanston Street

NSW drivers with no clue driving around the Melbourne CBD.

The other platform stops along Swanston Street present a similar challenge to other clueless motorists, who attempt to follow tram along the tracks.

Dingbat tries to follow a tram through the City Sqaure tram stop on Swanston Street

But this P plater takes the cake: she drove right through the bike path section of the Bourke Street stop.

This takes the cake: driving along the footpath of the Bourke Street tram stop on Swanston Street

With concrete blocks guarding the narrowed entrance and exit of the platforms, along with ‘bike lane’ signage, anybody with a clue would have noticed that they were heading the wrong way and had second thoughts.

Anybody with a clue would have noticed this at the *entrance* to the tram stop and had second through

Bonus idiot

Somebody on Twitter reminded me of this incident in October 2012, when a taxi tried to drive with one wheel on the tracks and the other on the platform stop, getting stuck and blocking trams for a few hours


Victoria Police seem more than happy to have regular blitzes at CBD intersections to book pedestrians to jaywalk – how come they never both booking motorists who queue through intersections? An idiot pedestrian is only going to injure themselves, but inconsiderate motorists block trams full of dozen of people, and cause gridlock on adjoining streets.

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13 Responses to “Stupidity on Swanston Street”

  1. Melbourne Tram Driver says:

    It’s shit. Utter shit. Very rarely does anyone get booked down there. Parking restrictions seem equally ignored by authorities. Why? Because trams and tram passengers are the only victims. Since when has any state government cared about them?

    • Marcus says:

      Pedestrians always seem to be the soft target: meanwhile every night on my way home I have to dodge my way through cars that queue through intersections in the Melbourne CBD, blocking the pedestrian crossing along with cyclists and trams. Complete chaos!

  2. Luke says:

    I am a bike rider and I live in the city and of course get frustrated with cars.

    However, I don’t mind when people clearly have made an honest mistake and ended up driving down Swanston St or any other one-way/tramline area in the city.

    My logic is that the road conditions in Melbourne are VERY unusual compared to the entire rest of the state and if you’re not used to it, it can be very easy to make a mistake. There are several million cars in Victoria and so even with a 0.01% error rate that is still a lot of errors.

    I think it is very telling that one of the examples you have is from out-of-state. I would wager that most of your other examples are people who rarely (perhaps only once or twice in their lives) come driving through the city.

    Of course, when you see an expensive car that is clearly from inner Melbourne then I say throw the book at them.

    So while these wrong turns are easy targets of ridicule (and laughing at them is definitely encouraged) I don’t think the problem is systemic like, for example, car drivers opening their doors and causing accidents that way.

    • Marcus says:

      You are correct about the streets of Melbourne being unusual – but you would hope that when somebody who don’t know about them encounters one, they pause for a moment and think “what exactly am I supposed to do here”. Of course, if you’re the kind of person to get stressed out, they just keep on driving and hope that get out of the situation.

      Along Swanston Street there are a number of signs telling drivers ‘no entry’ and ‘U turn here’ but with all of the other crap cluttering up the streetscape, it is no surprise that people don’t notice them. Being lenient to people making genuine mistakes, but throwing the book at people who should know better is definitely the way to go!

  3. vbw says:

    I get the impression that the police just find it easier to stand around at an intersection and pull over random pedestrians jaywalking (yet another Americanism that’s crept into the local lingo) as a softer target, rather than attempting to stop or apprehend a car that may well drive off into the distance once the lights go green.

    I totally agree that cars blocking the intersection are a major source of frustration, for pedestrians who struggle to get around them, for the trams and buses that get blocked by them (oh and the other car drivers too, not that many of them seem to learn!). I often try to give the car a good whack on the way past just to prove a point 🙂

    Maybe a ‘Don’t Block The Box’ with rigid enforcement and fines is the way to go, but with VicRoads and VicPol taking the easy options, I’m not holding my breath.

    • Marcus says:

      You’re spot on with the ‘soft target’ line of thinking by police: someone on foot is a lot easier to pull up than a tuned out motorist with their window up.

      However the police do sometimes surprise me: a few months back I saw a police officer on foot at the south end of Elizabeth Street stepping out into stopped traffic to reprimand a driver who was chatting away on her handheld mobile phone.

  4. Andrew says:

    You have highlighted many problems. Police Commissioner says they put their resources where they have the greatest safety effect. Clearly he does not have the resources for general road law enforcement. If people decided on a campaign of civil disobedience and used Swanston Street as a normal street for driving and parking along, there is nothing or no one to stop them. Look how almost every evening now, cars queue across Swanston Street in Flinders Street and block trams. Vic Roads can see it on their cameras as can Yarra Trams, yet nothing is done.

    Clearly laws about blocking intersections are not enforced and technological means need to be put in place. Paint hatched areas on the intersections and cameras to photograph stationary vehicles on the hatched area, as they have started to do in England.

    It is not always the fault of of the caught motorist who blocks the little streets. It can be the foreign born driver of a car in front who politely stops to let people walk against the lights and cross. Politeness is nice, but not over politeness that can result in delaying a couple of hundred people in a couple of trams.

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