Archive for March, 2009

The Age reports on new cycling spending transport plan

It’s really good to hear cycling is now being formally recognised as part of the transport plan by the Victorian government, especially in Melbourne. It’s even better to hear the Premier recognise that regular commuting cyclists (existing and potential) not only get people healthier and happier, but also that every cyclist is one less car in congested traffic or one less passenger on the struggling public transport network.

Every commuting cyclist out there should feel proud that they probably do more to “keep Melbourne moving” (to borrow a slogan) than any new freeway could. Cyclists minimise congestion or public transport crush, maximise the carrying capacity of roads, maximise the availability of parking for those who need to use it (loading, couriers, the elderly or disabled), reduce the burden on the health care system from sedentary or stress related illness, reduce the family/workplace losses from early death or illness, and reduce use of polluting fossil fuels. All while having fun on wheels!

Accessed 24/03/2009 from The Age website / Peddling priority, Clay Lucas, March 24, 2009

When the road builders start riding their bikes to work instead of driving, it’s clear something different is happening. That was confirmed yesterday with the launch of the Victorian Cycling Strategy, a $115 million Brumby Government plan to get more people cycling.

A Melbourne City Council report issued in October showed that bikes as a percentage of vehicles in the CBD between 7am and 10am had risen from just 4 per cent in 2006 to 9 per cent last year.

In suburbs such as Northcote, Brunswick and Fitzroy, up to 13 per cent of adults now ride to work.

“(Cycling) is good for your personal health. It will get your blood pressure down, it will get your cholesterol down. It also takes pressure off the public transport system and our road system,” [Premier John Brumby said at yesterday’s launch of the bike plan that the new strategy aimed to boost cycling all over the state].

“Cycling is now an essential part of the transport plan,” the Premier said. “That is a big shift from where we were a decade ago, where really what funds were available to cycling were just an add-on.” Now [Premier Brumby’s government] has boosted spending levels [each year on cycling] to $18 million a year.

The reaction from Bicycle Victoria to yesterday’s plan was little short of euphoric. “This is a history-making document,” said Bicycle Victoria chief executive Harry Barber. “For the first time in Australia, bike riding has been formally recognised as part of the core transport system.” The era of “discrimination” — where bike riders were lucky to get a few left-overs when roads were built — had officially ended, Barber said.

Yesterday the Premier said Victoria needed the plan to achieve success in helping more people to start getting fit, and cycling was a great way. “We are losing more people from the non-communicable diseases than we are from the communicable diseases for the first time in our history. These are all the lifestyle diseases. The best way to counter a lifestyle disease is to keep fit and to keep healthier. And you can do it walking, you can do it running, or you can do it cycling. Every one of those people who is cycling into work in the morning could be someone who is using a car, could be someone using public transport,” he said.

See the full article for more about the plan.

Avalon International Airshow

airshowI have to admit this year’s airshow looks pretty good.  Various news outlets throughout the past week have shown Eric Scott carefully flying his Go Fast Jet Pack around Geelong.  People have been trying to “perfect” jet pack technology for decades with very little progress.  I have fond memories of watching The Rocketeer, thinking the day will come soon where we can all wear jetpacks. Well, that day is still far off and I think the general problem is people are too heavy for something wearable to fly them anywhere.  Still, even if it’s only for little over a minute, it must be a thrill to fly a jet pack.

Other highlights of the show are the competing A380s for Qantas and the 777-300ER for V Australia, as well as the final viewing of the RAAF’s F111’s before they go into retirement.  Looking at the weather report, it looks like Saturday and Sunday are going to be pretty bad, so Friday looks like a good bet to go see the show, where they will be doing a night alight finale show.

Avalon Australian International Air Show

March 13-15, Avalon Airport, Lara

Adults $50

link

Moomba Parade 2009: The Next Generation

Moomba 079 I’m a sucker for parades. I’m not sure why, perhaps as a child I was deprived of parades. Who knows?

This year’s parade was being billed as more classy and modern than previous years. Seemed very similar to previous years and I reckon none of them were as good as 2002’s Moomba Parade which involved actual trams being decorated in various designs. Still, I think this year entertained sheerly for the amount of random groups.

OK, you have the various schools, makes sense. Dance companies, sure why not. Various cultural groups (Turks, Chinese), still good.  Then came religious groups, Hare Krishnas followed by Buddhists. OK,  random but sure why not. Then came the Austrek Star Trek Fans group consisting of 6 or so of the nerdiest trekkies dressed in uniforms.  What the? Although to be fair, each of them wore a uniform consisting of a different series/rank. At that point, I think everyone concluded that any group can be accepted into the parade.

After that, two groups called the 501st Legion and Star Walking Inc. followed and everyone bowed down to Lord Vader. If you didn’t the army of storm troopers following him would make you. Alright, maybe not but very entertaining. How bout Aussie bloggers for next year’s parade? I do admit I’d love to dress up in a Star Trek uniform. Other highlights were the natural bodybuilders and  Melbourne Taxi Drivers. The taxi drivers were a bit odd  and perhaps they needed some taxi props. Star Wars people had a sword fight, bodybuilders flexed, the taxi drivers sort of jived around.

I don’t see any instuctions on the thatsmelbourne site for how to enter parade but I’ll definitely have to remind myself next year to look it up. What would a group of Melbourne bloggers do though? Play with our keyboards?

Moomba 104 Moomba 115 Moomba 100 Moomba 098 Moomba 077

More photos on Flickr

The Yarra Freeway

Future Home of The Eastern-Yarra-Monash Connector

Future Home of The Eastern-Yarra-Monash Connector

A couple of months ago, I was reading the Herald Sun’s assessment on how New Year’s went, incident-wise. While the article wasn’t very interesting it did mention a bit about someone falling in the Yarra river and having to be revived.  Now, the thing the Herald Sun does that The Age misses out on is the comments. It’s amazing how many one eyed opinions there are from Herald Sun readers. This one comment stood out:

“The title of the story should be “No major incidents.” Or “Girl twist ankle, call to ban NYE.” It is clear the Yarra River does not serve a good purpose, it should be cemented up, and people can use it as a road way to get into the city. That would solve a lot of enviromental problems, and people will not fall into and get sick.

Posted by: JollyMunkie of Melbourne 8:09pm January 01, 2009

Jolly may be onto something. If we did turn the Yarra into a freeway it would ease much of Melbourne’s traffic. From Kooyong to Spotswood, the Monash could just be extended into an 8 lane freeway. From Kooyong up to Abbotsford, would be another freeway, bypassing the always busy Punt road. This would then connect to the Eastern Freeway at Dight falls. There ya go, we’ve saved countless lives from the Yarra as well as helping the traffic situation without the government even having to negotiate land rights.

Herald Sun: Ambulance services busy for Melbourne’s New Year celebrations

Doyle and Brumby, the same person?

Doyle Cartoon. <i>Credit: Melbourne Leader</i>

Doyle Cartoon. Credit: Melbourne Times

It always amazed me that no one ever figured out that Clark Kent, a mild mannered reporter was also Superman. They talked the same, they looked the same, and were never in the same room at the same time.  I suppose I’ve never seen the Doyle or Brumby in the same room but mostly out of not caring.

In the short time that our Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has been at the reigns he certainly has had some Brumbyish ideas. First, he proposed opening up Swanston Street (or more officially Swanston Walk) to vehicular traffic. That went down like a lead weight. In his newest proposal, he wants to ban hailing taxis on Friday and Saturday night in the CBD. In addition, he wants to create zones, where certain suburbs would have fixed prices.

Well, OK, more taxi ranks would be a great idea if you had them on every corner but a ban from hailing taxis from the CBD?  It’s absurd, pointless and dumb. Taxi drivers lose out on fares and passengers lose out on the very convenience of taking a cab. Besides the obvious problem of not enough vacant taxis, the taxis who are free will reject fares that are not far enough away. This has happened to me multiple times which ended up with me reporting the taxi, and the taxi commission essentially saying “bad boy” to the driver.

Brumby’s recent ideas besides the 2AM lockout debacle was allocating a whole bunch of roads as clearways to ease traffic without any consultation with traders or local councils.  I was recently reading an article in the Melbourne Leader Times, of how the Victorian government wants to bypass local council’s planning processes to speed up building developments. No consultation again. Are we seeing a pattern here from these two?

No hailing taxis, cars on Swanston street, no conferring with any stakeholders. What has this government come to? Do these politicians bother to step into the city at all? It seems like they just want the easiest commute into and out of the city and nothing else. How about actually asking us 2AM lockouters what we want? Bring back John So, at least it’s better to have a token funnyman mayor, then someone who wants to rock the boat with ludicrous ideas.

Doyle + Brumby = Dumby (unless someone can think of something better)

Moomba Waterfest 2009

moombaaniMoomba, a festival for no reason other than having a festival. No ethnic reason, no holiday, just a bunch of fun things to do and according to thatsmelbourne.com.au, it’s Australia’s largest free festival.

I see that Augie March, with the recent hit song “One Crowded Hour” is playing on Friday, The Galvatrons (“When we were Kids”) on Saturday, and a few other local bands over the long weekend. There’s of course, the waterskiing and wakeboarding which always seems to amaze me at how they are able to go into the Yarra river and live to tell the story. Ratatouille is playing on Saturday night at the Starlight Cinema. The Birdman Rally on Sunday is always good for a laugh and on Monday the Moomba parade.  From Saturday to Monday night there will be fireworks on the Yarra. All for free.

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Moomba Waterfest

March 6-9, Areas around the Yarra River

link

Telstra Dome..um Etihad Stadium Panorama

<i>Footy at the Dome by suzy_j</i>

Footy at the Dome by suzy_j

Well, we are about 3 weeks away from the start of the 2009 AFL season. What’s usually a boring NAB has proved quite interesting with the debut of the troubled Ben Cousins for Richmond.  In what is probably the biggest panorama I’ve ever seen online (10945 x 4202), suzy_j has taken a lovely photo of the game from last Thursday.  It’s also interesting to see the AFL is not backing down to referring to Etihad Stadium as it’s previous name, the Telstra Dome.

Flickr: Footy at the dome

iTransit: iPhone, Mobile, Public Transport Application

itransitA few months ago, we reported to you on Metro, an application for the Iphone which provides real-time public transportation information. I had a play with ITransit, a similar program to Metro, but instead of an application it is a website fitted to work with an Iphone, a mobile device, or any other browser you throw at.

From the Yarra Trams website, one has to enter in their stop number, which you have to lookup based on the tram line and street via a popup box. Once you select your location, it is fed into the Yarra Trams website, where you then have to select the route again and then submit. Not too difficult but could be an easier process. This seems to be a new method on their website as previously you had to look up the number, copy, then paste the number back into the Yarra Trams box and submit.

With iTransit, you select what form of transport you want (tram),browse by route or stop number (browse by route), select direction, select stop, and then you are presented with the times of the next three trams after which you sigh because you were probably better off not knowing.  Trains are selected in a similar fashion and apparently they are working on a bus time tracker. I’ve never been on a bus that even remotely followed a schedule, so this will be interesting to see.

This definitely gives Metro a run for it’s money with it’s ease of use and ability to be used on any browser. Best of all, it’s free.

iTransit

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