It’s no secret that Hobart traffic can be an issue at times. For the first time in my memory it is being spoken about as a major state election issue in the lead up to the March 3 vote, but the increasing problem has been readily apparent and much-discussed in the last few years.
There is also no mystery to the fact that when students go back to school this Wednesday congestion at peak times is going to increase further.
Both of these things are known (as is the high number of road works being carried out throughout the city), but I have no doubt the next month will see the usual upsurge in breathless discussion and almost indignation at our traffic woes through various media, with calls for tunnels, bypasses, light rail, ferries and all manner of other ‘solutions.’
Now some of the suggestions people will make to ameliorate congestion may make some sense, but most will require significant time and money to implement so let’s not hold our breath (although I would have thought making Macquarie and Davey Streets clearways would be a comparatively easy first step).
I’m not telling people not to keep pressuring governments to look at doing something about this, as long as we understand it may not be without cost. The kind of large scale work required to significantly address Hobart’s congestion issues will cost money and probably cause further traffic disruption in the short term.
But most of us can do something about Hobart traffic now. I have said before that there is only so much our government can do for us in relation to this issue. We also have capacity to impact the situation ourselves. Less single occupant vehicles would make a difference, as would more people choosing to cycle instead of driving. If you can’t take either of these options perhaps you can at least contribute by showing courtesy to cyclists, as aggressive and dangerous drivers are the greatest disincentive to those who would otherwise ride.
But by far the simplest thing within our power is varying the time that we travel. If you are driving through the CBD at peak hour, you know what to expect. I realise a lot of people have unavoidable schedules that force them to travel at certain hours, but if you don’t need to travel then, why would you?
Moreover when we know there are specific events that will further disrupt traffic, such as this week’s Queen’s Baton Relay or high profile games at Blundstone Arena, it is often possible to plan around them. These events are usually pretty well publicised so the traffic issued they cause should not come as a surprise either.
As Hobart continues to grow, traffic is going to continue to be an issue. But it’s time we stop acting surprised about it. Sometimes peak congestion is unavoidable, but for those people like me, who really hate sitting in slow traffic, we often have options about how to avoid the worst of it. Sure, sometimes this means getting to work earlier or leaving later than I need to and going for a walk or a run to fill in the time, which may not be 100% convenient, but neither is sitting in a traffic jam.