Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Don't let bridge designers near our buses!

It has come to my attention that buses in Brisbane are, by international standards, slow.  There’s really no other way to put it.  And I think I have found a way to improve the speed of bus services at the smallest of costs.

Remove bus stops.

I know it’s a bit counterintuitive, but it needs to be done.  My local bus route to the city is around 3kms.  There are 15 stops.  That’s one every 200m.  In fact, some are so close that you can talk to people at the next stop!  Realistically, half of these stops can be removed.  I have actually walked past 12 stops on this route while waiting for a bus – I was so close to where I was going I simply completed the journey on foot.

This absurd situation is not uncommon around Brisbane. 

And while I’m having a whinge, what is with bridge designers these days?  In the past, a bridge would take you across a river.  Now, designers set you a maze of bollards, loops, and swirling paths at each end as some kind of challenge to ensure that only worthy bridges crossers may pass.  The most recent example is the Tank St Bridge.  Instead of landing the bridge is some central and easily accessible place in front of the art gallery, the entrance is underneath the bridge so that you have to walk past the point where any normal bridge would land, then navigate through a tight corner in the middle of a bike path intersection, squeeze between some funky traffic calming posts, and then walk an extra 100m up a loopy ramp to get you back to where you were before.   

You would think designers would learn.  The UQ Bridge has its own nifty challenges.  To get down to the bike path by the river on the Dutton Park side, cyclists must turn right, right again, then left, left, then left again.  One simple path from the bridge directly to the bike path would have been simpler and much shorter.  At the other end of the bridge, pedestrians are faced with curious challenge.  Instead of a path from the bridge directly to the existing path network, a garden has been planted as an obstacle to navigate.  Walk though the garden and it’s about 10 metres.  Walk the loopy path around, and it’s about 20m.  Not surprisingly, the garden became trampled, and after a year a new direct path was built.

And of course there is the Goodwill Bridge, which has a large garden bed blocking the entrance at the Southbank end funnelling cyclist and pedestrian through narrow congested paths.

Are there people who enjoy these little challenges? 

My theory is that designers like to feel they have power.  When they see their designs forcing people to behave unnaturally it is a sign of success, rather than the reverse, where design would complement human behaviour.

“See how my design guides people through the maze. It’s ingenious!”

1 comment:

  1. I think design needs a new definition (or two), to separate functional design from 'pretty' design.

    The new City Glider from west end to new farm down adelaide st is planning less stops (some people in BCC recognise this - obviously not enough or only just recently).

    Bogota has an interesting bus loading solution that reduce stop times dramatically! BCC needs a study tour!