Little arrows pave the way for footpath frustration

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This crumbling footpath, marked with forlorn white arrows of optimism, is almost a work of art, so we put it in a frame.

IAN MEIKLE’s started counting little white arrows on pavements. Doubtless the first sign of something, but for the moment here’s his “Seven Days” column.

MORE than 92 per cent of Canberrans feel safe walking alone in their neighbourhood during the day and inside their home alone at night.

That’s the reassuring message from the latest figures on government services from the Productivity Commission. 

A pity then about the state of footpaths that we purport to be feeling safe walking on. Some of them aren’t. 

I am a devoted pavement pounder and constantly see the little, white, painted arrows around cracked and crumbling concrete paths indicating the promise of imminent repair. More often the paint fades and the arrows disappear before anyone ever fixes the problem. 

Over more recent months there was (pre-election, of course) a flurry of bright, new white arrows again teasing residents with the promise of repair. Now, everywhere I walk, there are white arrows, so many that I was inspired to spontaneously start counting them over a one-kilometre residential stretch. 

To be fair, there has been some recent work on seriously decrepit slabs, but nothing in relation to the size of the problem. 

“You reckon we could fix the other broken slabs while we’re here, Bruce?” 
“No, Wayne, it’s not on the work docket.”

I counted 118 arrowed slabs of footpath. If each slab averages about 1.2 square metres then that means just over 14 per cent of the footpath is awaiting repair. The following day, I counted the other side of the road; it was worse: 137 slabs, ie nearly 16.5 per cent. 

Unscientific maybe, but they seem like awfully high figures for a government that’s been huffing and puffing for the past five years about the virtues of its Age Friendly Suburbs Program (“an ACT government commitment to improve path network infrastructure and connectivity in suburbs that include a large proportion of residents aged over 55 years”). 

According to the City Services website, the program runs out of budget funding this year, yet there’s still so much to fix.

READER Bill Burke wrote with a “left-field” idea he has for the tree-lined entrance to Government House in Yarralumla. 

“I’m trying to generate interest in a commemorative pathway paralleling Dunrossil Drive with interspersed plaques or plinths containing biographical information on our governors-general,” he says.

Bill’s been inspired by a combination of many walks up and down Dunrossil Drive and a biography he’s researching on the late Dr Marcus Faunce, who was the vice-regal physician for many years.

“I’m a feminist republican, so have zero interest in glorifying a series of what were initially a bunch of over-privileged foreigners, but this is our history and a permanent sequential record like this would show us how we have changed as a nation and a society. 

“We had our first non-Brit decades ago and eventually, and long overdue, our first female G-G. One of these days we will celebrate the first indigenous person to hold the office and, glory, glory, hallelujah, our first president. 

“I’ve written to various people that matter such as David Headon [historian], Sally Barnes [NCA] and Gary Kent [National Trust] and all were ‘supportive but…’.”

Bill’s happy to hear from any other soul mates at wmjburke@gmail.com

Double-hanky guy… 2CC’s Leon Delaney.

THE strangest things can happen on live radio; people suddenly confess things, argue things, break down and cry, but the weirdest thing happened on 2CC when I called by Leon Delaney’s “Canberra Live” program the other Thursday.

We were talking on air about this and that, covid, bugs, sneezing and I mentioned that I’m a bit old school and carry a handkerchief, a confession I thought would bring the usual derision. Not so. 

Delaney ups the ante – says he carries two hankies, one in the left pocket, the other in the right. Incredulously, I baited him with a “you don’t!” Whereupon, microphone on, he jumped to his feet and started emptying his pockets; hanky one from the left side, hanky two from the right. They even matched!

Why, dear Leon, do you carry two snot rags? In the event of having to use one for sneezing, he says, he still has a clean spare. Like I said, the strangest things happen on live radio (at least weekdays on 2CC, 3pm-6pm).

Ian Meikle is the “CityNews” editor and can be heard weekly on 2CC’s “CityNews Sunday Roast” news program, 9am to noon. 

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Ian Meikle
Ian Meikle is the owner and editor of "CityNews".

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