Driving on right not much chop in Laman Street

TRAINSPOTTERS. They pick up things we never would. Like the troubling car in an artist’s impression of Laman Street.

The vision for the tree-lined street 30 years from now, put out by Newcastle City Council and printed on the Newcastle Herald’s front page this week, has a few cars in it.

They’re a bit odd. And dingy. You don’t expect artists to predict car designs three decades ahead but surely the height of modernity in 2042 won’t resemble an ’87 Ford Laser. That’s all the thought we gave it.

But Laurie Bowman from Charlestown looked closer.

‘‘Did they use a Yankee architect?’’ he put to us. What’s he on about? we thought.

‘‘Look at the car,’’ Mr Bowman persisted.

‘‘It’s a left-hand drive.’’

By Jove the man’s right. The steering wheel’s on the left. Could the image simply have been flipped in the printing process? No, because everything else including the buildings is the right way round.

It begs the question: what does the council know that we don’t? What’s in the works? Will we be driving on the right by then?

If so, we hope they phase it in nice and gently. No offence, Novocastrians, but some of you are woeful drivers. Have you seen yourselves at four-way Stop signs?

The most recent country to switch its drivers from one side of the road to the other [and the first to do it since the ’70s] is Samoa. The main reason for their 2009 switch was that Australia and New Zealand drive on the left.

By leaving the right and aligning with us, the logic went, it made it easier for poor Samoans to get cheap hand-me-down cars from the roughly 170,000 Samoans who live here and in NZ.

Opponents formed a group called People Against Switching Sides, or PASS, to fight the plan.

OK. This is getting scarily believable as something for Newcastle.

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