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Michael's Speed Zone

27th August 2002

By Michael Knowling

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I went on an interesting car cruise in my hometown of Adelaide last Saturday night; plenty of people and a very wide cross-section of cars (everything from rough'n'tough 1600 Dattos still in their primer to full-house Evo Lancers and dog-box'd Subies). The idea was to meet up at a large, prominent carpark area - belonging to a major hardware franchise - which is unused after business hours.

This seemed all pretty run-of-the-mill - but, as it turns out, the 'fun' was only starting...

The schedule was to arrive at around half-seven, hang around telling lies about our cars for a while and, at about 8:30, peel off to the next major get-together destination. Before the cruise even started rolling, however, it was almost shut down. With a queue of modified cars streaming into the carpark and probably 100-or-so already parked in a tight clump, the local constabulary were soon on the scent of 'potential trouble'. It started with a lone patrol car cruising up and down the rows of shining cars and, just minutes later, it was joined by another two patrols and a clink-wagon.

Uh-oh!

Much to everyone's relief, we didn't turn into the easy targets of a 'defect pool', but the police made their presence felt nonetheless. "Move on" we were instructed, so - like a bunch of preschoolers kicked off the play equipment by the yard bullies - we trundled off with sad faces not knowing where to go or what to do.

And this was just a sign of things to come.

Pushing on to the next scheduled stop - running early, thanks to our forced early departure - we passed police car after police car and speed camera after speed camera. That kinda took any fun out of the whole thing - especially for those driving 'heavily enhanced' vehicles.

Then - for those people that hadn't been left behind at the start or zapped by a speed gun - the cruze came to a head in another large vacant carpark in the Adelaide Hills. And, wouldn't you guess it, within ten minutes of pulling on the handbrake the police were cruising up and down the rows again! Arrrggggghhhh!

The whole process taught we one thing; car cruises, especially, monster car cruises are under massive threat.

Not only are the police ready to pounce at the first instance, it must be becoming impossible to find a suitable location for the get-togethers. Think about it; who on Earth would want a bunch of modified car enthusiasts hanging around their premises after-hours? You'd have to be nuts. There's the menace of property damage - even in the seemingly insignificant form of a burnout - and, not least, the potential for being sued. What happens if someone gets hurt when something goes wrong showing off behind the wheel? What happens if a brawl breaks out? Whatever the specifics - none of this is in any company's best interests. Looking at it this way, it's surprising not every carpark is chained up after-hours.

So, stir together the lack of meeting venues, the number of speed cameras on the road, defect stations and road-side emissions testing, and it looks like monster cruises will soon be a thing of the past. Make the most of what little fun there is left.

And while I'm talking about driving in Adelaide, I'd like to take this opportunity to purge some pent-up stress...

Click for larger image

Adelaide has a reputation - a self-imposed reputation - for being easy to get around. What bull. Here's a State that's had no major road development in the inner metropolitan area for many, many years. Sure, the Mount Barker Freeway is pretty good for entering or leaving the State (most people would prefer leaving) and the Southern Expressway makes things easier for those living a considerable distance South of the city (and, even then, it's only one-way!), but what's been done to improve traffic flow in the metro area? Absolutely nothing as far as I can see. Other Australian cities - Melbourne and Sydney, for example - get tunnels that bypass the city and ring-roads that make it too-easy to get around. Sure, Sydney and Melbourne have a population around three or four times Adelaide's, but Adelaide's roads are about a hundred times more pathetic...

And things aren't improving; in fact, they're getting worse.

Take this for an example; the corner of Brighton Road and Anzac Highway. These are both major roads - Anzac Highway is probably the busiest city-bound road in the State. For some reason, though, we have a 3-lane wide section of Brighton Road bottlenecking into just one lane to turn onto the 3-lane wide Anzac Highway. Oh, and throw in a turn right arrow that often lets only a very small sausage of cars through an you can see why there are major congestion issues. If you ever needed something to build you into a road rage, boy, this is it!

The Fullarton Road round-about. Every Adelaidian is familiar will this avoid-at-all-costs little stuff-up. Here's an intersection that's notoriously dangerous - you only need to look at the broken glass and plastic strewn around the place - and, yet, everyday oops there's another crash. Or two. Or three - or more. Why, oh why, isn't something done?

Next; do I need to mention the section of South Road near Port Road where the two-lanes are so ridiculously narrow nobody's game to pass a slow-moving semi-trailer. This is effectively a one-lane road in many instances.

And, speaking of effective one-lane roads, am I the only person that views busses as nothing more than mobile chicanes? These max-width, diesel spewing monstrosities all-but consume the left lane when they're going from stop to stop; what you thought was a 3-lane road is actually only a 2-laner. Yeah, yeah, I know we should all catch the bus so there aren't so many cars on the road, but can't we make cars and busses get along better? Would it be too difficult to have recesses where busses pull in along major roads? Please, anything to help traffic flow faster than it does now!

Oh, and don't get me started on the absent-minded drivers...

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