Why are we saddled with such short-sighted Governments?
Melbourne is a city in near grid-lock at peak times, and brought easily to a complete standstill by relatively minor system failures or accidents.
Why then is it so difficult for the Victorian State Government and that tub of bureaucrats at VicRoads to wrap their collective heads around scooters and motorcycles as a transport solution in a modern city?
Encouraging the more widespread and safe use of two-wheeled transport, getting more commuters using them - rather than less - will relieve pressure on a teetering road system, relieve pressure on parking, speed travel times for all road users, reduce airborne pollution and reduce Melbourne's transport carbon footprint.
Isn't that a win-win-win? A win for the city, a win for car commuters, and a win for the environment. Where is the downside there?
Instead, the answer from this shortsighted Victorian Government is to discourage the use of scooters, motorcycles and electric two-wheelers as city transport.
Allowing the introduction of tolls on City Link for motorcycle and scooter riders is just one more brick in a wall of policy failures.
Outer-urban commuters who might have chosen to take two-wheeled transport because of the savings in travel, will no longer be encouraged to do so.
It can't be wear-and-tear on the road surfaces that has promoted this proposal; it can't be because scooters and motorcycles are on the tollways in such numbers that they are impeding traffic flow; it can't be that they are filling up scant carparking spaces around the CBD and other prime business precincts.
So what has prompted this policy initiative if not just another grab for cash?
Where is the transport plan that otherwise encourages the safe use of scooters and motorcycles?
Where are the policy initiatives from the Victorian State Government that recognises the part motorised two-wheeled transport plays in the better working of a modern city?
European cities are alive with scooters, motorcycles and electric two-wheelers. Why not here? Unfortunately, to Melbourne's detriment, we have a blinkered Government and a moribund and backwards-looking roads bureaucracy.
Melbourne needs decision-makers with a vision for the future, a sense of where the decisions being made now will place this city in the next decade, and the two and three decades after that.
The 'vision thing' isn't hard.
We can imagine a city where its arteries don't clog with cars and trucks twice in every working day, where recurring issues of failing transport don't degrade the amenity of the city and don't prevent it from functioning efficiently.
But poor decisons now, even relatively small poor decisions like this toll proposal, will amplify the problems that will need to be solved - one day - by a better Government.
Poor decision? Let's call it for what it is: it's plain stupid.
TMR Managing Editor