Jaywalkers booked in bewildering police blitz

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The “rhino on a skateboard” heads down Northbourne Avenue as a pedestrian crosses safely. Photo: Mike Welsh

What’s with the cops suddenly launching a booking blitz on jaywalkers in Civic, wonders Seven Days columnist MIKE WELSH

CYNICAL Canberrans are still scratching their heads over a police crackdown on jaywalking. 

Mike Welsh.

Few can recall such a pedestrian crime being so aggressively policed before. The “pedestrian safety” blitz conducted at Northbourne Avenue and Barry Drive reportedly netted several dozen victims. 

But if authorities are serious about jaywalking (and riding), a revenue-raising goldmine awaits a few blocks west. At any peak time the intersection of Barry Drive and Clunies Ross Street is a very dangerous jaywalking/riding free-for-all.

IT’S now obvious that Canberrans are NOT light rail ready. Rail Safety week came to a shuddering halt on day one after a 61-year-old pedestrian was hit by a tram at a crossing in Civic. The incident brought to an end a string of close calls involving motorists and pedestrians, oblivious to fast-moving trams bearing down on them.

Is it possible warnings by Transport Minister Chris Steel, who described the tram as a “rhino on a skateboard’, and Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury (“like getting hit by six elephants at once”) are too complex? One of the first rules of advertising is KISS (keep it simple, stupid). “Stop, look, listen” might be worth a thought.

ANOTHER chapter in the outstanding career of Dr Brendan Nelson closes in December when he retires as director of the Australian War Memorial. I’ve followed Nelson (we share an alma mater) since the late ‘80s when he was a dashing young Hobart GP and future president of the left-leaning AMA, sporting a diamond-stud earring and hooning around town in a hot Commodore.

I next encountered him in the mid ‘90s, campaigning on Sydney’s north shore in the seat of Bradfield, which he won for the Liberals. The party eventually chewed him up and spat him out, but Nelson reinvented himself spectacularly by putting the AWM firmly back in the national consciousness.

Opinion is almost unanimous that he leaves the AWM in far better shape and with a higher profile than when he came into the role seven years ago.

AUSTRALIA’S first (and only) female Nobel laureate has been in Canberra. It appears she and I have a few things in common. A tenuous link I know, but Dr Elizabeth Blackburn, awarded the Nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2009, and I both spent our formative years in the same city (Launceston), and I was a patient of her figuratively and literally larger-than-life GP father. Now based in San Francisco, Dr Blackburn spoke at the Crawford Fund’s 2019 conference at Parliament House. Small world, but I’d hate to vacuum it.

FORMER Bruce bad boy Todd Carney certainly isn’t letting his penis artistry come back to bite him on the bum without a buck involved. He’s turned his infamous toilet party piece into a payday. The 2010 Dally M medallist features in a Sportsbet commercial ending with the tag: “Even whizz kid Todd Carney can use it” and Toddy agrees “Yeah, piece of piss”. The Goulburn-raised athlete has just released a book, “Hard Truth”, about his troubled times.

STILL loitering around the private parts of Raiders players and a local radio newsreader suffered an unfortunate slip of the tongue. Reporting the return of Raider Joey Leilua, Capital Radio’s Beth Rep tripped over “his first game back after surgery on a bulging dick… ah, disc”. Within an hour the audio was being shared all over the country. Small things, they say, amuse small minds.

2CC’s Alan Jones’ directive to PM ScoMo to “shove a sock” down the throat of NZ PM Jacinda Ardern sent social media into a tizz with all the usual vile comments. However, one tweet cleverly fused the shock jock’s misogynistic comments with two of his other favourite pastimes, rugby and motivation. The post urged the All Blacks to use Jones’ “vile slur against the NZ PM” as inspiration for the weekend’s Bledisloe Cup clash. Apparently, Jones’ favourite Kiwi song is Split Enz’ “Sox Months in a Leaky Boat”.


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Mike Welsh
Mike Welsh is a serial blogger and former Canberra radio presenter.


  1. I must be one of the “cynical Canberrans” who “are still scratching their heads over a police crackdown on jaywalking.”
    Canberrans have learned from experience that it’s quite safe to cross against a red signal when either:
    (a) the road is empty of approaching vehicles for half a kilometre, or
    (b) vehicles in the lane/s you are crossing are stopped at a red signal.
    Ten years ago I proposed that pedestrian signals along Northbourne Avenue should be allowed to show green when the adjacent and parallel vehicle signals were green. The change reduced wait times by up to two minutes. It also reduced the proportion of illegal-crossings-against-red from 42% to 30%. It also reduced numbers of legal-but-risky crossings away from the traffic signals.
    Since then the government has reduced unnecessary pedestrian wait imes by installing staged pedestrian crossings with appropriately-timed signals, at the intersection of Melrose and Hindmarsh Drives in Woden. This almost certainly improved safety. It installed another staged pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Marcus Clarke St and Rimmer Street in Civic. But the signals at that crossing routinely impose unnecessary red phases on pedestrians.
    Pedestrian signals along the light rail line are programmed so that most of their red phases occur when there are no trams approaching, and it is actually safe to cross. In March I raised this issue with the former Transport Minister.
    Since then another pedestrian has been hit by a light rail vehicle, while crossing against a red signal that happened to occur when a light rail vehicle was actually approaching.
    Instead of fixing the pedestrian signal problem, the government has responded by fining pedestrians.
    How many pedestrians have been fined for safely crossing the light rail when no trams were approaching?

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