What is it about a splash of rain that makes Sydney drivers wet their pants?
A spot of rain and Sydney drivers act like a new life form has arrived on our shores, specifically our roads. Rain takes on biblical proportions, it’s like a plague of soggy locusts teeming down on all the land, which must be defeated by Team Australia, car by car, windscreen wiper by windscreen wiper.
When it rains, Sydney motorists, with their sad wet weather faces (a cross between dentist appointment face and airport queue face) take driving to new passive aggressive heights. They slow down, then weirdly speed up. Like they think the weather will be better on the M2 if only they could get there by driving fast through puddles.
Windsreen wipers sound like some kind of manic water feature. At traffic lights you can see a little windscreen wiper malfunction action going on, as drivers try to find which wiper does the back windscreen.
As for buses, a little rain and they get even more bumfuzzled than usual. They drive aggressively past entire bus stops filled with umbrellas but then they approach roundabouts slower than a wet week.
Of course, you can try to pretend that everything is fine, and turn on the radio. Only it doesn’t help. In a stroke of breathtaking originality, Sydney radio stations play any song mentioning rain on high rotation, just in case you hadn’t noticed IT’S RAINING!
There’s only so many times I can listen to Belinda Carlisle’s Summer Rain. There’s only so much a girl can take of It’s Raining Men. Especially when I have on my wet weather face combined with my rain hair, which I have to go and fix up now. But that’s a whole other blog.
For twenty years, give or take, there have been roadworks on the way from Sydney to Katoomba. It doesn’t matter what year, what season or what economic crisis of the day is going on, the road to Katoomba is well, not exactly paved with good intentions. All I can say is thank goodness there is hot chocolate at the end, otherwise I would never get there.
It starts at the base of the mountains when Emu Plains morphs into Emu Heights and then becomes the lower mountains. The road narrows, turns from three to two then one lanes, then tantalizingly back to two lanes again until the next traffic lights whereupon lo, roadworks signs appear again and the traffic crawls.
It’s hard to believe that after 20 years they still haven’t got the Blue Mountains right. Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson managed to do it in a week, so why can’t we figure it out.
Sometimes I think it must be a plot by the Katoomba Council Workers Union to have an excuse to lay around smoking on the side of the road all day. Sometimes I think it is a Blue Mountains passive aggressive community plan to keep the mountains for the mountaineers. Either way, fix the road Barry O’Farrell! And start mixing that hot chocolate.
You know the scenario. You’re going to a new place at night, let’s call it a restaurant in a place you’re not familiar with. You check the website about parking. No problem, the website asures you in that bright breezy website speak. There’s plenty of street parking or you can park in the supermarket carpark opposite.
Hooray! Potential parking nightmare solved. You drive to the place, spot the restaurant and as for parking – forget about it. It’s like Bethlehem at Christmas time – only you’ll need more than a very bright star and a vat of myrrh to find a park for anything larger than a unicycle.
And supermarket opposite? Well opposite turns out to mean down the street, to the left, hang right and round a roundabout. In other words … you’ll never find it.
We all know that Sydney is an overrated, overparked city. So … don’t make out on the webite that parking is a cinch. Because it’s not, and it kind of puts a dampener on the night that can’t be fixed by alcohol. Because at some point you know that you’ll have to be sober enough to perform a 16 point turn to wedge your car out of the strangulated demi carspot you found 5 kilometres away.
And it doesn’t matter how good your tower, your confit or your dugustation of asparagus done eight ways is, if you tell us there’s plenty of street parking and there’s not, next time … well, there won’t be a next time.
I see that the state government is widening the M2. That’ll be nice – an extra 3 kilometres of extra lane should go a long way to soaking up 1.3 million Sydney cars (the approximate population of people who live in new housing estates in the north-west called Opus Heights or Perkins Mount). Oh yeah, that should do it.
Because definitely what the northwest does not need is a trainline. What would all those millions of people in Sydney’s fastest growing area need a boring old train line for? Not when they can sit in traffic for two hours just to go to work. Well, that’s why they go to work isn’t it? So that they can buy a car – they may as well get to use it.
I know there’s a bus – Fatty O’Barrell if you are reading this blog – have you tried crossing two lanes of freeway to sit in the middle of 4 lanes of freeway waiting for a Sydney bus? It doesn’t work so well.
All ranting aside, the widening of the M2 won’t ease traffic anyway. It’s a rule of traffic that the traffic expands to engulf that extra 3km. After about 2 weeks the difference will be negligible.
In fairness, the quagmire that is Sydney traffic is not Fatty O’Barrell’s fault and nor was it Kristina Keneally’s. They say we get the government we deserve. Sometimes I think we should be more like the French and protest more. Protesting certainly hasn’t done the French any harm, eight weeks holiday and a 35 hour week and a bit of me time at lunchtime … or is that you and me time? Trouble is, unlike the French, we are all too weary to protest – the M2 can do that to a person.
I really hate these car stickers:
- Baby on Board
- Princess on Board
- Princess-in-training on Board
- Little People on Board
- I Shoot and I Vote
- I Fish and I Vote
I mean for God
‘s sake, is there any kind of person, not to mention princess or baby who votes, shoots or fishes or rides in a car and wants to tell the world, or at least the person stuck behind them on the M5 about it. I’m thinking Magic Happens stickers are a whole lot less sick-making.
And don’t get me started on the My Family
series of stickers.
What about we combine all these stickers into just a few all-encompassing slogans, like:
I Breathe and I Vote
I Drive and I Vote
I Park, Drive and Vote
I Believe Magic Happens and I Vote
Driver on Board
There’s a million of them when you think about it. Taxpayer on Board – that’s got to catch on, don’t you think? Then add a hibiscus and you have a fad worth patenting.
Life in the medium/slow lane has many annoyances. Like people who drive 4WD’s for instance, but that’s a whole other rant.
But one of the most annoying things ever is school zones. There’s no nice way of being nice about school zones: they’re annoying, they’re every 50 metres (or so it seems), school’s always just out when you drive through them, and they make no difference anyway because every single parent is picking up their kid in their all-purpose 4WD, so that they don’t have to (perish the thought) walk or catch public transport. In all the years of school zones, I’ve only ever seen one student. It’s true.
And dressing them up with a fancy pants name like dragon’s teeth doesn’t do it for me either. I know when I’m seeing a Harry Potter movie, and Sydney traffic might be a nightmare, but fantasy it ain’t.
Plus is there any evidence that school zones work? What about the opposite argument that they only make things worse because the driver is constantly going into and out of the zone (so to speak), which makes them crazy and erratic and lose concentration right when they need it.
And … it’s not teaching kids to take responsibility. Kids need to learn right now that it’s a jungle out there and no-one is going to watch your back and it’s a big world and everybody’s crazy. As soon as you have that sorted, trust me, life’s a whole lot simpler. Then all you’ve got to worry about is taxes, mortgages, nuclear war and existential angst – the easy stuff.
But back to school zones – Bazza O’Fazza could abolish them now, another four terms guaranteed right there, Bazza. I’m sure that it wouldn’t make any difference to the road toll, if anything it makes for a less stressful trip and a less stressful road trip is a safer trip which means safer roads. Then dragon’s teeth could be restored to their rightful place – a Harry Potter movie and not on NSW roads.
The other day I was driving through the Sydney traffic carpark, when I was sandwiched behind a car with the sticker: “Slow Down. Take in God’s Creation”. With the exception of “I’m a locovore and I vote”, this is quite possibly the most moronic sticker on the planet today.
It got me thinking – WTF? God didn’t create the roads – this is our little creation. You name it, we built it – the M’s, the F’s, Parramatta, Sunnyholt, James Ruse, Silverwater and all the others Vic Laruso rattles off in his sleep every morning as giant parking lots, best avoided.
Ok, so I know what this self-annointed slow laner was trying to say – check out your surroundings. But here’s the thing, God doesn’t particularly care one way or another. The proof? Look at a forest of trees – not one of them has a sign saying, “Actually the rosewood’s not bad – I made this.” Not one set of initials, no I woz here, no pawprint, nada.
Don’t slow down, it’s bad for traffic flow and causes accidents. Let’s keep creationism off the roads instead.