I was a critic of the crossing: when on my …

Comment on Gap pedestrian crossing goes, Feds waive refund by Jocelyn Davies.

I was a critic of the crossing: when on my bicycle riding through there, I found it really scary to have no escape path from cars or trucks passing by. I also saw many people crossing the road, and not using the crossing. But that changed.
As I saw people using the crossing, I wondered why they were doing that – it seemed a much less direct route.
I concluded it was because getting up and down the side of the railway line, over a steep bank, on loose gravel, would be quite tricky, especially if you don’t walk so well anymore, or if you’ve got a baby, or a stroller, if you are on crutches maybe.
Now the crossing is closed down and being dismantled, and people are again crossing the steep gravel banks.
It doesn’t affect me directly. I’ve never crossed the railway line there, and if I ever did, it would be once-off, maybe on Show Day, not everyday life.
Even when I pass through on the road, mostly it’s in a car. The risk the crossing had for cyclists was occasional for me personally, not every day.
So the crossing is become a piece of public art, ephemeral, as art installations are.
It references those policy detours where governments tell Aboriginal mob ‘you’ve got to change how you do things, what you do isn’t right, it’s not safe, we’ll help you, we know what we’re doing, we know about these things’.
And those on the receiving end, at least some of them, see a different way, and they do change and others start to see the advantages of changing. But the policy is found to be unsustainable, with unintended consequences, and is abandoned, still with no way out on whatever the problem was in the first place, and invariably with more cost to the public purse and a bit of intergovernmental wrangling for good measure.
It doesn’t affect most of us directly. But how much of this public art do we really need, how much can we afford, and shouldn’t there be some planning with people affected, not just ‘for’ them?

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