Riding the zebra out of King St takes the lollipop

 DUNNO, IT JUST DOESN'T FLOW: Newcastle's ground zero for causing traffic humbug.
DUNNO, IT JUST DOESN'T FLOW: Newcastle's ground zero for causing traffic humbug.

DON’T mention the P word.

It drives elected representatives and their apparatchiks up the wall. Their eyes glaze over, they shuffle their feet and look at the ground before pointing to an imaginary shiny thing and running away.

The issue now is not just parking, but also traffic flows.

With the part closing of Hunter Street for installation of the light rail, it’s the Wharf Road rat run and the King Street blocked artery that are doing the heavy lifting.

And on that installation, can we let the arguments about putting the tram on the rail corridor finally go?

I believe it should have gone on the rail corridor too, but it’s done and dusted.

Do like Elsa in Frozen. Let it go.

The first week of Hunter Street being partly closed. Oh the horror, the horror. But it was always going to be so, with static traffic backed up past Wolfe Street at 5.15pm on the first week day with reduced road capacity.

But no pain, no gain.

It’s all for the greater good. Right?

The no-brainer that escaped the scrutiny of our traffic mandarins was the pedestrian crossing out the front of city hall. Blind Freddy could have seen that crossing was always going to be ground zero for causing traffic humbug. 

While I am all for walking and making more spaces in the city focused on the needs of pedestrians and pushies, I have never been a fan of that crosswalk.

When there is an event on at the Civic Theatre or City Hall, there can be long delays for traffic that sees a back-up on King Street to the other side of Auckland Street and to the other side of Darby Street, while people cross whenever.

There’s a light-controlled pedestrian crossing not that far away at Auckland Street.

By last Wednesday, lollipop angels – or traffic flow and pedestrian interface consultants, or whatever they are to be referred to – were installed to control the movements of pedestrians riding the zebra at will.

I asked a bloke in a hi-vis what the plan was. “Dunno mate,” he said.

With school formal season just a matter of weeks away, swarms of overdressed little darlings will soon be arriving in stretch limos to flood Civic Park with their selfie sticks and proud parents.

I’d ask council why the humbug this pedestrian crossing would cause to traffic flow wasn’t anticipated, but I already know how the reply would read.

“Newcastle City Council continues to prioritise the safety and well-being of all members of the community. The council is working closely with all stakeholders to ensure minimum disruption during Newcastle’s inner-city transformation into a vibrant, sustainable, smart city. The council will continue to monitor, assess and evaluate traffic flows while this once-in-a-generation transformation is being carried out. Council thanks the entire community for their patience and support during this exciting time.” 

How should council reply?

“Got us there! We just missed it. Soz. Got some lollipop angels sorting it for the time being and have some peeps with uni degrees and hard hats and big charts working out whether to put lights there or dig the whole thing up. Stay tuned!”

Get rid of that crossing.

Pick it up and put it down on Scott Street near Wolfe Street.

Twitter @paul_scott_ or emailpaulscott@gmail.com