Don’t move to Tassie. Fight for affordable housing in Sydney.

Angry rant warning plus a thank you to the incomparable Susie Cooper for the photo of me that you’ll find below.

This is the only direct route from my (current) neighbourhood to the town centre of Launceston, just a stones throw away.

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It’s a 50kph zone, though the drivers have settled on 70 as a good average speed. Sections of the hand railing on the left bear the scars of their cock-ups. Previously I’ve shared many photos of residents’ cars left blocking the footpath (as narrow as 500mm in many parts). But as you’ll see from the next photo, residents’ cars have been left blocking the footpaths for the past hundred years. That’s not about to be policed due to a “mainlander” complaining.

trevallyn tram ppc

When I have complained I’ve been told I don’t know the history, meaning how things have been for as long as folk can remember, meaning how things were in the 80s. Apparently all the roads here were built for car traffic and things like footpaths were never considered. So there you have it. Tasmania has spoken.

Look at Tasmanian town centres on google maps. You’ll see car parking craters and more driveway crossings than actual footpaths. But looking at old signs like this around town, it is evident that pedestrians capitulated way back in the twenties.

beware of cars jpg

Give the rich right of away, and warn off the peasants with signs. To a mainlander, and by that I mean an “Australian”, the social structure of Tasmania (how voting in local government elections is done by post and is non-compulsory, how land owners in town are given free reign to carve up the footpaths with driveways, how suburb developers aren’t made to include pedestrian short-cuts between cul-de-sacs, how existing through-ways are blocked, and how no community groups exist to complain) is a throwback to an age most of us know only from movies: The Color Purple, Twelve Years a Slave, or this classic mini-series I remember from childhood:

As a friend of mine here likes to say, the community assumes no agency in public affairs, leaving such matters to the wealthy descendants of squatters. Descending myself from unionist Bolshies, the kind Karl Marx said could take power post-industrialisation, I could never assimilate into this culture defined by peasants and their pastoralist overlords decades before the industrial revolution even came to Australia.

And now that I have sold my house here, I am in a position to warn other mainlanders about the reality of life in Tasmania. Sure, houses are cheap, but you get what you pay for.

The struggle in mainland Australia (a struggle that is in the news a lot at the moment) is between those who can’t afford a first home (I would rather we used the word “flat”) and NIMBY home owners of freestanding houses in central Sydney and Melbourne, blocking densification. The working classes are pushed to the suburbs and forced to use cars to fight their way back in to the city to work. The bourgeois NIMBYs aren’t bothered by the traffic. They’re tucked into enclaves and don’t have to commute anyway. They’re living off of the government and their investments.

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Working class urban Australians need to decide who they are. Peasants with no volition? If that’s what they are, then sure, they should follow our conservative leaders’ advice and move to the regions. There are many cheap houses in Tassie! The way of the working class though is to take to the streets, organise rolling strikes, stare down the tanks and demand high density housing. If concentrated on the flat lands between the airport and the CBD, they could enjoy free bicycle transport. Here is one thought about what they could build.

If they don’t enact people-power, it will be because they have been brainwashed into loving their cages. I’m finding that as I get older, I just get more cranky and pink.

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Get your car off the footpath you peasant!

5 Comments

  1. Isn’t ALL of Australia just as bad? No-one gives a toss about walking and cycling priorities even if you point it out to them. No-one understands or cares about that fact that they have no footpaths to and from their homes, because they drive everywhere. The only reason the inner cities have footpaths is because they sprung up pre-car. If they were to be built today, we would all be walking on the road. New build estate after estate are being built without so some much as a thought for the non-motorist. This is 2015. Why isn’t this made illegal?

    I did some research a while back about car adoption by country. Australia and NZ were very close behind the USA (in vehicles per head). Makes sense when you look around today and hence a much more difficult position to turn around from.

    Personally I can’t wait until the cities are so congested that people spend the first two hours of each day complaining about traffic (as opposed to only the first hour). Only then will the populous start to contemplate alternative forms of transport. At that point the bike will be king again.

    P.s. Sydney is very much overrated. Just look at that affordability map. Plus they are removing cycle ways!

    • Steven says:

      Thanks for that Jon! Another thought is that if we wait for congestion, we’ll get driverless cars. If we wait for peak oil, we’ll get nuclear charged batteries. No issue taken alone will lead us to cycling Nirvana. I still think eking out non vehicular heterotopias on our brownfields is the way to go. Combined with rational arguments, we might be able to demonstrate the superiority of a bike-centric development paradigm. In fairness to Tasmania, it is not much more shitty than Sydney. There are Australian cities though, where thanks to sheer luck, bike transport can be pursued as a way of life: parts of my home town of Newcastle are looking pretty darned good at the moment.

  2. May I fatuously just comment that I love your blog!

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