Westgate bridge: induced traffic coming soon

Westgate bridge fifth lane openingThere you go; the RACV said again yesterday (as they have done in the past) that the $1.4 billion M1/Westgate Bridge upgrade (including the new lanes opened yesterday) will be swamped within a decade.

Brian Negus, of the RACV, welcomed the opening of the fifth lane. It was the final link in the freeway corridor so it would relieve the frustrating congestion, he said.

Within eight to 10 years, the West Gate would once again be struggling to handle the number of cars using it daily, Mr Negus said.

The Age

So, it’s another example of induced traffic: when you expand a road, traffic grows to fill it.

(And ironically this 25% expansion in bridge capacity came a couple of months after Williamstown and Altona Loop trains reduced peak hour frequencies from every 20 minutes to every 22 minutes, in an attempt to boost punctuality. Meanwhile buses in the fast-growing Werribee area remain at mostly every 40 minutes, with station car parks packed, so accessing public transport is difficult for many residents.)

Transport Minister Terry Mulder recently said “we can’t build our way out of congestion”. Department of Transport Secretary Jim Betts said the same thing yesterday.

Apparently RACV still believes you can… even though it’s never actually worked.

The RACV continues to argue for the north-east freeway (through Banyule Flats, or further east) and the east-west tunnel (under Carlton). If you are an RACV member and you disagree with more motorway expansion, you should let them know. And if you’re only a member for the roadside assistance, you should know there are other organisations offering that service which don’t lobby (at least overtly) for more motorways. (And it’s often cheaper than RACV.)

(Pic: from the ABC’s Ryan Sheales on Twitter)

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

11 replies on “Westgate bridge: induced traffic coming soon”

A bit of a worry. Brian Negus use to work for VicRoads. So I guess there is only one solution: More roads!

It may not be induced traffic. Melbourne’s population will grow over the next ten years, so the extra traffic could be due to that exogenous factor rather than the price of travel. You need to differentiate between the growth that is due to the price change and the growth that is due to population growth.

Otherwise you could argue that every road built since the time of Batman has induced traffic rather than accommodated the population growth that has occurred.

That’s a coincidence: my RACV Bike Assist membership renewal turned up in the mail today, the same day I read your post about RACV’s road lobbying.

When I purchased my bicycle a year ago, I thought it prudent to take out Bike Assist membership, because I’m fairly inept when it comes to things mechanical, and the thought of being able to phone someone who could come and help if I got a puncture or broke a chain was very reassuring.

My first battle with the RACV was in finding someone who actually knew what Bike Assist was. “We don’t sell many of those.” My second battle was in trying to convince them that I don’t require the standard car Roadside Assist or car insurance as well. All I required was BikeAssist.”You don’t drive? But everyone drives!” My third battle was in trying to convince them that I don’t want them to send me the regular copies of RoyalAuto magazine that automatically come with a BikeAssist membership. “You might enjoy reading it.” “No, I won’t. It’s all about cars. I’ve already told you, I’m not interested in cars. If you send it to me, I’m going to write ‘Return to Sender’ on it and post it straight back, so you may as well not send it in the first place.”

But the biggest battle, and one I see no way of winning, is with the fact that I am now technically a member of the RACV, and they lobby vigorously for motorway expansion at the expense of other modes of transport, a position with which I vehemently disagree. They are a powerful body, backed by the weight of their membership. But they do not speak for me, and I wonder how many other RACV members feel the same way.

Wow, thats amazing ! And you actually think they can come and help you when you have a problem with your bike ? Do they have special people to do this ? Where will they come from ? I can just imagine, they will send the car service guy, who will have no idea what to do.

Really you would be better off learning to change a tyre, which is just about the only mishap you are likely to have on the road.

@enno: I suspect your questions are rhetorical but I will treat them as though they are genuine.

That’s what they claim – up to eight service calls a year. One presumes that when the RACV first introduced this service, they arranged to equip their ordinary roadside assistance personnel with whatever knowledge and tools are required to carry out simple bicycle repairs. If they can’t provide a service at least as prompt as their car roadside assistance, with the ability to fix the most common bicycle problems, it would be false advertising.The Bike Assist service was first brought to my attention by an experienced cyclist, and I also checked a couple of online bicycle forums before I signed up. I found no evidence that the RACV can’t deliver what it promises, other than some sneering speculation. Rather, I found a couple of favourable comments, that appear to be genuine, from people who have used the service.

In any case, if their roadside mechanic can’t fix the problem on the spot, the RACV will pay a taxi fare up to $50 to transport me and my bike to my destination. That’s not a bad deal for a service that only costs $30 a year.

I dispute your assertion that a puncture is the only mishap a cyclist is likely to have. I personally know several cyclists who have experienced much worse than that, mostly accident related. Assuming one is not injured enough to be carted off to hospital, it is reassuring to know that the RACV will pay up to $50 to deliver one’s shaken body and mangled bike safely home.

As for doing repairs myself: we all pay people to do the things that we lack the time, the aptitude, or the inclination to do ourselves. Exactly what we choose to pay for varies from person to person. You may well choose to outsource something that I find perfectly simple. That is your right, and I wouldn’t judge you for it. I choose to outsource bike assistance because the yearly cost is minuscule in acomparison with the peace of mind, and because I don’t wish to invest any more time than I already have (which is considerable!) in trying to learn how to do my own repairs, nor do I wish to lug around the necessary repair kit every time I ride.

But none of that is the real issue here. The point of my original posting is: the only organisation that I know of that provides such a service is the RACV, and unfortunately the RACV is much, much more than a useful roadside assistance service or an insurance company. It’s a lobby group, with a pro-motorway-expansion ethos that I just cannot support.

I’d switch to a different organisation if I knew of one that offered a comparable service, but I don’t know of any. I clicked on some of the links to alternative roadside assistance organisations that Daniel provided, but unfortunately they all seem to be solely motor vehicle related. I suspect the bicycle-riding population of Victoria is just too small to make it economically viable for other organisations to offer this service. No doubt the RACV can afford it because it’s a relatively small adjunct to their existing very large roadside service operation.

(Apologies if this posting shows up more than once. I’ve been getting “Server not found” messages when I click on “Submit Comment”.)

Well thanks for the explanation. I had never heard of this service. Its hard to see how it can be viable.

Obviously an “accident” is more severe than a “breakdown”, but breakdowns are the RACV’s focus, not dealing with accidents.

Breakdowns rather than accidents may be the RACV’s focus for car-related assistance, but not so with bicycles. This is a direct quote from their website: “RACV bike assist will help you in the event that your bicycle cannot be ridden due to an ACCIDENT [my emphasis], mechanical problem or puncture.”


I had no idea that any company offered anything like this. Now I’m kind of annoyed to find out that they do offer this, because the deal does seem excellent, but like you I’m damn opposed to their agenda.

In this instance I think I’m too opposed to their agenda to sign up as a member. Certainly when I got told they offered good contents insurance I scoffed and avoided it.

IIRC Bike assist was launched by RACV at the BV great victorian bike ride. RACV are the principle naming sponsor of the event, so I’m not sure how keen BV would be to recommend anyone else…
From the way the RACV reps were spruiking it on the ride, I definitely got the impression it is just the car mechanics that come out to help you…

I’d be more inclined to agree with enno… learn the basics yourself – the things most likely to go wrong.

in the event that my bicycle cannot be ridden due to an accident, mechanical problem or puncture I either catch a train if close enough to a line, walk, or phone a friend…

Considering how long RACV mechanics tend to take to come out for a car breakdown from what I’ve heard, and the fact that for most people bicycles tend to be ridden shorter distances compared with a motor vehicle, I’m betting you could walk to a train station, a local bike shop, get a lift, walk to your destination, etc etc well before the mechanic even got there…

Comments are closed.