Harold Bishop has a posse

The Rae St Institute > Blog archive > Transport Xenophobia

We are a society at once paranoid and vengeful; irresponsible and baying for blood. We demand a scapegoat for anything and everything that happens, but cannot stand the thought of taking responsibility for our own actions. We are a society predominantly made up of motorist-pedestrians, looking for an other to blame for everything. War in Iraq? IT'S OUTSIDE FORCES, FOREIGN MILITANTS! Kovco fuckup? EXTERNAL CONTRACTORS! Beaconsfield mine collapse? IT WAS AN EARTHQUAKE!

And the clinchers for my point. It's always someone other than a motorist or pedestrian who gets blamed.

Truck runs down Bike?

Level Crossing crash?

The Truck vs Bike thing I can't really go into too much right now because what I've heard is secondhand reports from minutes of a meeting, but they belied a culture in government circles of Blaming The Cyclist whenever someone on a bike is run down by a Truck.

The Railway Crossing thing I feel I should be somewhat evasive on too, what with the Trawalla incident the other week and my ignorance of the sub judice situation and out of respect for those involved and all that, but that incident isn't all I'm talking about.

David Bramwells is ignorant and misguided.

Call me an arsehole if you like for saying that, but that's what I believe. While what happened with Alana Nobbs is tragic, the situation is that she crossed against the lights, with her walkman on.
This is what I'd heard, but I've heard claims to the contrary. Please prove me right/wrong. No incoherent demands in comments, or if you're going to make such weird demands, at least provide some means for me to contact you so I can clarify why exactly I should listen to you, or drop me a line through the contact form.
Tragic mistake, but a mistake on her part. Why isn't David calling for fencing on all major roads? Why rail crossings only?

Because he can't identify with the train driver?

Stupidity's comeuppance
OK, I'm no psychoanalyst, but what I'm talking about here is the experience train drivers go through of seeing people do stupid things at railway crossings.. the girl killed by a Melbourne - Geelong train a few months back because she jumped the fence and tried to scramble onto the platform, or the incident less than a week after the Trawalla crash where someone drove around the gates at Rockbank and then got collected by a train.. a few more metres and they would have been t-boned into a concrete platform. Motorists see cyclists on the roads and act instinctively against them because they're not used to them being there, or can't identify with them. Motorists see a railway crossing and act instinctively as if it's a road crossing, sneaking across if they feel like it, and reacting against the train or crossing when something goes wrong. Motorists see a tram, or pretend not to see it, and then react angrily when their car gets demolished by it when they cut it off (I used to see this happen all the time when I worked in Elizabeth St). Pedestrians see cyclists on a path and freak out because they're moving faster than them, and they can't identify with it. We're a society conditioned by governments and current affairs shows to be selfish, and be fearful of things different to ourselves, so it's only natural that people often refuse to consider the motorist's culpability in these things.

Material aftermath of stupidity on the roads
There are accidents like this all the time. I passed through a lonely stretch of road just over the border on my long ride to Sydney, at Warragoon.. a rickety unmaintained branch line with a suspicious 200m stretch of brand new track, and several hundred square metres of torn up earth. This was the result of a crash a few months earlier where a B-double had driven straight into an oncoming slow moving grain train and de-railed it, tearing up track and ground. The thing is that most of the time these accidents result in no death or injury, and are between a goods train and a B-double on some forgotten stretch of track/road beyond the reach of the urban media, and at most it warrants a little blurb in the local paper, and the rest is fought out between insurance companies.

But when it happens in a more public place, or the damage is physical or personal rather than just material, the cries baying for blood never ask the real question - What the bloody hell was the vehicle/person doing on the track in the first place? STOP signs mean what they say - STOP. And flashing lights? There's no excuse.

That David Bramwells is demanding that all crossings be grade separated is understandable, but his argument is purely emotional, and not rationally viable. People often tout how Sydney has no level crossings, but that's more than anything just a result of circumstance rather than some grand wisdom behind the idea - their crossings were grade-separated as a Depression-era works program in the 1930s, and ours were supposed to be, but the money went to freeways. It'd be nice to have it done, sure, but it's taking a ludicrously expensive approach to a simple problem of responsibility, because society finds it hard to put the blame on themselves as motorists/pedestrians. There are many more people killed at road intersections, why not put the money towards grade separating every road intersection with three lanes or above? That'd save more lives. The thing is that Bramwells is thinking emotionally, not rationally, and he's being used as a convenient football by the opposition. Do you think the Liberals are really interested in putting THAT much money into public transport? Bullshit. That sort of money could be spent in much better ways on PT anyway.

Terry Mulder politicising what happened at Trawalla in the days following it is insulting and offensive to all concerned. (Likewise, in the interests of balance, was Beazley politicising Beaconsfield before the miners were rescued).. but from a man who acknowledges that he doesn't pay attention to signage on the road (and as a result nearly crashed into a train sitting in a crossing), from a coalition whose Ballarat representative called for headlights to be always turned on on trains in future (which has been the case I understand for about eighty years now..) -- the culture of apportioning blame to the other manifested in the railway crossing, the train, or the cyclist is fucked, but everywhere.

I look forward to another essay from the NMAA lambasting me for insulting their sacred cow, being the inalienable right of the motorist to do whatever the fuck they want.

But there'll be no essay response from me this time, I'll be off in San Francisco consorting with Seppos.
And Another Thing...


Read this eloquent and concise account of a Big Lebowski epiphany, then watch the film again with new eyes. I've loved that film since the opening moments of it, when I saw it not long after it came out at The Astor, in a double feature with something else I forget now, not knowing anything about it in advance. And now I love it even more.

6 Comments - [post a comment]

Damn...something's missing... - The Colonel, Tuesday, May 30, 2006, 8:52 AM
And it's not you Doctor Ziegler...it's a comment by Angela???

Of course it could be that I am losing my mind.

Either way, give those Chicago punters a quick lesson in how the High Roller's Lanes work.

That is if that is their real names.

Don't pay too much attention to the Germans who may or may not point you in the direction of the 'shower block.'
Bramwells... - The Rev., Friday, June 16, 2006, 7:23 PM
Interestingly enough, I was talking to an eye-witness to the Alana Nobbs fatality at Bentleigh last week.

In his words he said that Miss Nobbs opened the EMERGENCY gate provided against the heavy steel gate that closes over the rail line when a train is in the vacinity. In one, you have to lean over the emergency gate and unlock it from the other side - the reason being so that if the heavy steel gate closes across the pedestrian walkway, you can still get off the crossing and not get turned into strawberry jam.

Basically what Miss Nobbs did was unlock the gate and proceeded to cross the line when a train had safely docked at the platform. The only thing she didn't know was there was another train coming in the other direction which was shielded from view by the train at the platform. Apparently she was still alive AFTER the train had hit her - ie: she was thrown clear of the train upon impact. Her screams were heard as she was thrown forward; they only stopped after a loud crack was heard - most likely second impact with a solid object (concrete post etc).

Apparently a video does exist of this fatality (hardly an accident as she placed herself in harms way - I'd say she could well be a Darwin Award nominee), I am trying to get a copy sent to me so I can view it for myself - apparently the video shows all of the above but goes wobbly and cuts out upon her impact with the train. Maybe I should also send a copy to Bramwells...? Then he could see that the systems in place do work and it is abuse and ignorance of the systems that kill poeple - including his daughter who for some strange reason has a different surname and lived a fair distance from her (He's in Mt Beauty she was in Bentleigh) - I surmise they didn't really have much to do with each other if one puts two and two together...

Oh and according to my source; she WASN'T wearing headphones.
Bramwells...again. - The Rev., Friday, June 16, 2006, 7:29 PM
Oh, before anybody judges my post which I suggested that I should send a copy of a video to Bramwells of his 'daughter' getting killed, have a look at the posts that Bramwells makes here:


After reading these, you may get an idea as to why I have suggested this.
Dr Henrik Ziegler, Monday, June 19, 2006, 4:40 AM
Ah, lovely...

A reasoned and justified opinion. This post got comment spammed by someone a little while back, hence my corrections and request for no more rubbish above.

Thanks for clearing it up.

In my travels I've come across all manner of odd transport situations that would NEVER happen back home. One case being the tendency in the United States to run rail lines down the middle of main roads. In Oakland, CA, the main north/south Caltrans commuter route runs down about 1km of a main street. I asked a staff member at the Amtrak station how often there are accidents there... he said he couldn't remember the last one.

In Australia, accidents on a site like that would be weekly.

Sadly it's just accepted that drivers don't pay attention.
I was there ... - anonymous, Thursday, January 1, 2015, 5:35 AM
I was Alana's best friend and I witnessed her death, maybe you should check your facts with so,done who saw the whole thing.
I was there - anonymous, Thursday, January 1, 2015, 5:40 AM
All comments here about 'eye witness' testimony is wrong, which is proven by the fact that the information about the emergency gate is wrong, and is what is currently now at Bentleigh station, that lock system wasn't on the emergency gate in 2004, it wasn't there that day.
The comments about her screams are wrong, she didn't die that way, so stop trying to seek celebrity status with COMPLETELY incorrect information, not one word here is correct. I was her best friend I was there and saw the whole thing. Maybe you should check with someone who was actually there!