Stop! And read this article before trusting your GPS this weekend. (Image Source: Bidgee / Wikimedia Commons)
I live in a suburb that is quite far north and poorly serviced by public transport. I also have an extremely inconveniently placed boyfriend and friends. I therefore find myself doing a lot more driving than I would like across a large number of different areas in Melbourne. I have noticed during this time that there are a few road names that keep popping up in my phone's GPS suggested routes that seem to evoke quite a different response from me to that of others (in that they make me want to scream "LIAR!" at my phone, and bury it deep in concrete. Under a volcano. Guarded by angry taipans). Whilst I don't profess to have travelled on all of Melbourne's roads or to be any sort of expert, I wanted to share my current personal hit-list for the benefit of any poor soul who is naively about to follow their GPS down these paths for the first time. These are the top 8 roads that I find require a packed lunch and an iPod charger, or better yet, complete avoidance if possible. If you are considering a road-trip this weekend, please read on.
8. Warrigal Road – Surry Hills to Mentone Warrigal Road does not rate as badly as it could because it can be kind when it wants to (usually late at night). However, when it is bad, it is evil. The lovely little touch to this road is the 60-70km speed limits which look down upon you and taunt you the whole time you are creeping at 30-40km beside the BMW and behind the Suburban Soccer Mum's 4 Wheel Drive.
(Image source: Bidgee / Wikimedia Commons)
7. Main Road x St Albans Road/ East Esplanade x McKechnie Street x St Albans Railway Crossing Intersection - St Albans This is not strictly a road, rather, an intersection of several otherwise well-behaved roads and a railway crossing. If you have not yet made that call to that sick relative, gone for that jog, planned the landscaping for the backyard to scale, written that screenplay, or done that online wine-making course, this intersection is the perfect place to do it.
Whilst it has never been proven, or even suggested, I believe in my heart of hearts that this road can only have been designed by the Marquis de Sade during a brief stint in town planning. It is the only place to have so many traffic lights per cubic metre, and the only place where each traffic light seems to have such a strong preoccupation with the colour red. Any time of day or night, this road has a unique style of sadism that allows you to get to that point just between second and third gear before suddenly stopping you again. It is the one road that is in perpetual peak hour, even when your car is the only one on it.
5. Brunswick Street - Fitzroy When I am waiting for a tram to take me up Brunswick Street, there is never one in sight. This is because they all wait together in a huge, slow-moving pack until just before I want to drive up Brunswick Street. The fact that it is one lane each way with parked cars lining both sides like wallpaper, the speed limit is now 40km, and the native population is apparently largely cyclists and suicidal hipster pedestrians who seem to be under the impression that the middle of the road is shielded by some sort of impenetrable protective force-field all adds exponentially to the sitting and the waiting. The upshot? You have plenty of time to check out the awesome shop windows.
4. Sydney Road – Coburg to Parkville Sydney Road just loves petrol! To the point where it won't let you leave until it is sure it has used all of yours up. There is no point on this road that is a good point. There is no time of day either. If you do feel like bypassing some of the traffic and have the navigational skills of a homing pigeon, it can occasionally pay to pop into one of the labyrinthous side-streets and take a parallel path. Be aware though that this will not work if your car is wider than the average Tonka truck, or if there is a car coming in the opposite direction at any point. You may also end up somewhere near the equator three days later.
(Image source: Mat Connolley / Wikimedia Commons)
3. Western Ring Road Now entering its approximate third century of road works, the Western Ring Road is always fun. In addition to the constantly changing speed signs keeping it all exciting, the imposing concrete walls at the Northern end lift the spirits, and do not at all give the impression of a car prison. There is also the constant thrill from never knowing if you were supposed to follow that branch-off concrete wall into what looks like a parallel freeway. Coming from the West is just as exciting. For the entire hour it takes to do what should be a ten minute trip.
2. Punt Road - Richmond to St Kilda
What I love the most about this road is that it holds the monopoly on where it travels from and to. I have been travelling the length of Punt Road regularly now for some three years, and have never once been able to talk my phone GPS into finding an alternative toll-free road. I have had plenty of time to try to do this too, while my car sits stationary outside various fascinating Punt Road landmarks such as: the sudden left lane turn onto Citylink, The Alfred Hospital, The 7 Eleven, the coin laundrette… the list goes on. And on. And on.
1. Burke Road - Camberwell to Caulfield Don't. Just don't. If you have friends or family on either side of this stretch of road, consider downloading Skype.
As mentioned this is my personal list, however I am always keen to add to it. If you have any more tips on roads or areas for the innocent Melbourne driver to avoid, feel free to post them below in the comments section. They will be gratefully received by at least one motorist.
Sayers Road Tarneit through to Williams Landing is an absolute nightmare. Not only is it single lane from Morris Road to the Laverton RAAF Base, you also have to contend with 2 schools, 5 sets of traffic lights and ongoing road works to 3 new estates being built. Hoppers Crossing/Tarneit/Truganina must be the highest growing suburbs in the West and as more and more people move here, well of course there are more and more cars travelling not only this road, but several others going Southbound. A nightmare to travel on in peak periods so avoid at all costs between 6 and 9 am and 3.30 to 7pm week nights.
Its not a road per say, but an intersection that I absolutely have to add, I've grown up with everyone I know calling it 'Spaghetti Junction' or the intersecting roads of Police, Dandenong, Centre and Springvale roads in Springvale to your wonderful list. As its name implies the roads are a jumble of spaghetti and many unsuspecting motorists have suddenly found themselves in the wrong lane incurring the wrath of other road users. I wish everyone traveling through 'Spaghetti Junction' a safe passage.
Ha ha, excellent article. I know just what you mean with the horrendous Western Ring Road.
Another road I may add for me is Bell Street. A racetrack to many with a very wierd camber to it causing you to make large inputs with the steering wheel just to keep straight. Of course, the evil traffic lights that do their best to delay you, along with the inconsistent speed limits, and the constant lane-changes necessary to deal with parked cars and cars turning right. Awful.
Also, LEFT LANE ENDS. Always! What's the bloody point of having the left lane if it's going to end just after the traffic lights, unceremoniously dumping you into the right lane amongst the high-speed Mummys in their 4WDs. Only to then tempt you with an open and empty left lane a little further on. Don't be fooled though, it will end shortly! Every road in Melbourne!
I work in traffic reporting and have found that one stretch of road that stays messed up between morning and afternoon peak is Denmark Street, between Kew junction and Barkers Road. Alexandra Parade and Swan Street are also fun whenever there's a large concert or sporting event going on at Melbourne Park/MCG.
I think you'll find cyclists are under the impression they have the same right to use the roads that you do...
.... And given how much petrol you seem to waste going to sit in traffic jams maybe you should follow their example and get a bicycle... You may find yourself getting where you need to get that bit faster.