The Truth About Traffic in Australia.

One of the things that drove me nuts in the UK was the traffic. The  M25 has been a joke since about 1990. I have watched the sunset from my car on that road many times! Thankfully I have no idea what it is like now, but I suspect it’s not good. Traffic around all the towns was always just as frustrating.

I also had the pleasure of driving along the motorway that connects San Diego to Los Angeles, in California on a Friday afternoon. This is exactly how I remember it….

San Diego to L.A. Motorway

San Diego to L.A. Motorway

Image Courtesy of Atwater Village Newbie

So what’s it like in Australia? Do we get traffic jams here?

When I first got here, I did a fair amount of driving around the city and the suburbs. My first reaction was disappointment. I was expecting (hoping for) no traffic jams at all. But that wasn’t what was happening. The odd queue here, tailback there and bumper to bumper elsewhere.

But having lived here for longer I have realised a couple of things. First, I am living in the third largest and the fastest growing city in the country. So yes, there are a few bottlenecks. But they only seem to pinch five or 10 minutes of your journey and then you are clear.

Second, having had a marvellous Australian road trip driving from here in Brisbane to Sydney, then on to Melbourne and then back home again, it was only in cities that I encountered traffic jams. If you haven’t seen the road clips in the links above, please take a look. You’ll see what I mean.

The interesting thing is there is always an article in the local paper about the terrible traffic conditions here, that a bypass is needed there and traffic levels are higher than they’ve ever been everywhere. But from where I’m sitting, the Australians just don’t know how good they have it.

I don’t drive in rush hour traffic very much, but I have done a couple of times recently. There is a place called Woolloongabba, which is far too long a name for Australians, so they call it The Gabba. You may have heard of it, it has a famous cricket ground.

I left The Gabba at 4:18 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon, so pretty much during the rush hour. Many Australians start at around 7-8 am and finish between 3-4 pm. The Gabba is on the completely opposite side of the city to where I live and to get home I needed to go into the city and out the other side using the very busy city bypass.

City Bypass - NOT Rush Hour

City Bypass - NOT Rush Hour

I take the left fork, the right goes into the city. As the caption says, this was not taken at rush hour. When I drove through, it was nose to tail. But still only cost me about 15 minutes.

Gave me a chance to look at the river, which is nice…

Brisbane River

Brisbane River

The journey in total must be something like 28 to 30 km. I was home at 5:02 p m. Driving time: 44 mins.

My second brush with rush hour was when I left home at 8.30 in the morning to drive to the airport. The airport is about 15 km north east of the city and I live about 22 km south west. I was parked and getting out of the car by ten past nine. Driving time: 40 mins.

So, contrary to local opinion and what the papers say, I don’t think they have a traffic problem. But perhaps it is because of local opinion and what the papers say, that they don’t. Seems whenever a bottleneck appears the demand to solve it is loud and clear. And it gets solved.

The main road that I use most often to get to the city has recently been widened in an effort to improve the “terrible” traffic congestion. I have been driving up and down it for a year thinking what a wonderful road it is. Yes, it is better now, but I think the exercise proves that Australians have a much lower tolerance of traffic than we do.

I like their attitude!

There are lots of things that are different about driving here in Australia, so it is a subject upon which I will return. What’s the price of petrol? Do we have road rage? What about boy racers? All will be revealed, right here.

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