I’ll miss the growl of my hot exhaust!

I’ll miss the growl of my hot exhaust!
Simon Harvey

Let’s have a go at rethinking the life we have lived with our cars.

I think there is a big challenge on the horizon for us Aussies, especially for those for whom cars are more than just a form of transport.

There are a myriad of reasons why cars are useful or convenient – not many of us live with a market around the corner. We also live in a “wide brown land” where weather and distance challenge us; we need our cars to connect and visit.

These are the practicalities, but there are also the “emotionalities” – a myriad of sentiments – power, safety, independence, status, coolness. How will we cope?

Will you miss the growl of your hot exhaust? Perhaps electric cars fill the gap by having a choice of HETB (HiFi Exhaust Tone Broadcast).

Will electric or hydrogen power become affordable, or will the ownership of a car become a very visible difference between the “haves” and the “have nots?” Life with (or without) our cars is just one challenge that climate change is bringing, but it’s a sensitive one, it touches many established expectations and so many human foibles.

Many will know that policy and planning people are already grappling with “the car problem” and preparing for change. Locally we have the Arden Structural Plan (ASP) and the Macaulay Structural Plan (MSP), within which Clause 52.06 of parking provision guidelines is being quietly changed (some would say “compromised”).

Through a “parking overlay” arrangement it seems there are likely to be precinct-wide parking plans, as opposed to parking being determined by the number of apartments in a building. As I understand this, it would enable parking provision to be flexible, allowing for different transport options near the precinct.

As I am writing, the consultations on the ASP are about to conclude on October 11 (so will have concluded by the time you read this), but consultations on the MSP will soon begin. Make sure you take any opportunity to have your say about these Plans. Kensington Association submissions on both plans will soon be on our website.

A divergent thought – is it possible that living without a car could become a badge of honour!? Could Macaulay Rd become a Mecca for pedestrians and scooters!?

Let me put my optimist hat on for a moment.

My guess is that the current residents of a precinct (in our case, those of us in North Melbourne and Kensington) will struggle in the short term with any new “living with cars” arrangements but will adjust quickly.

Among new residents there will always be those who don’t even recognise that there is a transition underway, and they will sometimes park in the street, whether or not they have a car spot for their apartment.

Initially that will be annoying for current residents, but in time, with stricter parking regulations, the laggards will catch on, and the upside will blossom.

As the transition progresses, public transport will improve – it must; traffic congestion will be held in check and gradually decrease; private, smaller scale transport will diversify, and more jobs will be created locally.

Climate change compels me to contextualise this thinking. Here are a few relevant stats from the March 2019 Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

In percentage terms (in Australia) the transport sector has experienced the largest growth, emissions increasing 64.9 per cent between 1990 to March 2019. Also, In the year to March 2019, transport accounted for 18.8 per cent of Australia’s national inventory. The domestic transport sector accounts for more than 70 per cent of liquid fuels consumed in Australia.

It’s hard to deny that climate change is driving us to rethink how we live with cars. What we don’t know is how fast any transition will proceed, and how easy it will be to adapt our lives and expectations.

Let’s face it, we are “creatures of habit”, are we not?  We will be challenged by any prospective “compromise on A to obtain B”. But, if I have to lose the throaty sound of my exhaust (my car’s), I will need something really good in exchange •

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