Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cycling on footpath

Image: Cycling SA

We have a long history of competent and well respected cycling organisations and people in South Australia. We love our cycling and our cyclists . They have achieved a lot for the sport and our state. It is disappointing that the changes to the law which allow cyclists to ride on the footpath have created such a low level of disingenuous debate. We know a lot about cycling. We have done it well. We need to look at the realities. Cars and bikes should never be together on the road in some parts of Adelaide. You cannot give 1.5m clearance on Unley Road. It is mad to put a bike lane between a bus lane and cars as in another part of Adelaide. A car cannot move over into another lane to give clearance if the outside lane has cars. That is all logical and real. Cyclists can be very much in danger because they are not protected. Drivers are in danger if they have to shift lanes suddenly to create room for cyclists. There are irresponsible cyclists who ride several abreast or too fast or recklessly. There are drivers who zoom, swerve and don't care. How many? Most cyclists and drivers are reasonable and responsible and we have co existed well but the increase of traffic has created some difficult and unpleasant moments. Other cities and countries allow cyclists to use pedestrian areas to keep themselves safe. If  the thoughtless, irresponsible behaviour of the few is a problem we need to address that behaviour. We need social awareness campaigns , we need rational discussions and we need to be level headed. It is not us and them. There are no factions and yet, the converstions have largely settled on that. 891 Adelaide had a good discussion about this issue with a lawyer and other experts. We need to look at the issues, the problems , the concerns. We need to find solutions and work together on this. It should be a project where we look at solving the issues and we are clear about what we shall not and never tolerate. It's the mentality which needs to be developed which is lacking. In Canberra cyclists access pedestrian areas. They do that responsibly. I have never felt surprised, threatened or unsafe. I have been glad to see they can get away from the cars and use an eco friendsly form of transport. We have thought that footpath cycling is for little kiddies and that no adult would ride on the footpath. We need to rethink it. Cars cannot determine the liveability of a city and you cannot just push people out onto the road and say - give them 1.5 metres and she'll be right. It doesn't work like that. 

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Upgrading Adelaide

Upgrading Adelaide is well underway and it's looking good! We have the bridge across the Torrens and everyone loves it. The markets are taking shape and are such an interesting place to be in Adelaide with all their sights, sounds and great food. Not just food, though. There are other shops and stalls and it is looking brighter , lighter and cleaner. Not that the markets were dirty. They were old looking. Not now. Frome Road is getting an artsy feel with Eckersley's, The Urban Cow and a matching artsy cafe. I can see that getting better. The bottom end of Grenfell Street has a more sedate feel and being able to get authentic crepes there only adds to it. Carpe Diem is popular for a good reason and adds to the feel of that end of Grenfell Street. The Mall is looking light, bright and active with all the big glass shop windows and, thankfully, they have kept some of the Mall coffee shops and have started to develop the streets and lanes off Rundle Mall. We have come a long way. Whoever has oversight of the planning has had some good vision. So why are we now faint hearted about developing Victoria Square to the model which has been advertised , shared, approved and appreciated? It would look so fantastic and provide a civilised place for people to be at that end of town where the markets and law precinct are. It needs something with panache and the plans put forward looked appropriate. Funding, you say? We are not doing  this because of funding? This is 2015. Crowdsourcing funding is becoming the norm for projects and start ups. Adelaide has never been faint hearted about embracing the future, the unusal and the innovative. Maybe we need to look at the crowdfunding of projects in other cities and move ourselves forward in our customary can-do Adelaide way, no matter what the barriers. It would be a great way to bring us together. Why shouldn't we unite to fund and develop our future

Monday, July 06, 2015

Adelaide is great

Image :trends24

If the Adelaide Football Club motto is : Born to great things (Natus ad magna geranda) then it has been rising above the horribly complex and definitive loss of Phil Walsh and is taking our state and the AFL with it. Scott Camporeale has been trending for a couple of hours on Twitter because he is the new interim coach for the club and he is going to honour Phil Walsh's vision  and try to move through the emotion of the  situation that way. This follows on from what was, to all accounts - all accounts - a very moving and meaningful gesture yesterday from the March of Silence to the ceremony at the Adelaide Oval. Those who were there were deeply moved by it. The family has expressed thanks for such an obvious and huge support for their situation and everyone and anyone to do with football in this country has been picking up the lead of this club and uniting themselves for the family, for the game and for everything Phil Walsh represented. Football. He loved it. He gave his life to it. It meant everything to him that he could share his passion and enthusiam for the game. You do not have to know Phil Walsh or like football to know that Phil Walsh was an inspiration as a coach because he lived for the game and the good it could bring. His club has come together to support Meredith and Quinn Walsh so that they can see their awful situation is not beyond hope or care. The leadership displayed in how this is now unfolding is worth noting. It is a solid uniting of football fans and players which then has reached out to the rest of the community and allowed us to blur the pain a bit. We know it's a horrendous situation. We know it must be unbearable. We know that Meredith and Quinn Walsh must be feeling so black and numb. We cannot even guess really how they might be feeling. The Adelaide Football Club is living up to its motto because this is a gargantuan challenge to keep the spirit of someone like Phil Walsh burning strongly and brightly. This is not canonising him or making him more than a man. It's redressing the imbalance of fate and providing an undeniable blanket of solidarity around Meredith and Quinn who have some tough times to work through. 

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Phil Walsh

Image : Adelaide Football Club

Adelaide is sad. You could feel it yesterday and then you could hear it. Everyone was affected by it and moved. Not just the football community , all of us. We could all see it was a painful, dreadful circumstance for a family to find itself in and the fact that it was a high profile family meant we were all connecting on a very real level about the way in which a happy family can go very wrong. We were talking about it because it had a profound impact. The saddness of it. The finality of it. The awful compexity of it. Phil Walsh was a very well respected and well loved coach and you knew it whether you followed football or not. This was someone who had given his life to the success and building of a sport which everyone loves. In Adelaide there is good rivalry between the Port and Crows supporters. It is the basis of so much fun and so many jokes. Yesterday, it wasn't about that at all.  It was about kinship. Football has lost someone who had strengthened and grown the sport but he had lost his life as a father. A man. The obvious family impact and emotion of it was clear. The club will rally around the family because the club motto is Born to Great Things. Nothing greater than taking this situation into your heart and working a way through it. I feel so so concerned for Phil Walsh's wife , Meredith, and his daughter , Quinn. What has happened to them as human beings is an impossibly tough call and they are having to work their way through the pain and complexity of it. This is a human story and the resolution, as such, will be a playing out of the club motto. The two women need to be cossetted and protected for the time being and will need all the love and help we can muster. In the end it will make us have a really serious conversation about family violence which is going to be painful and difficult but it is one we need to have. The football community will make us honest in fronting up to this. In the meantime, Adelaide cares and Adelaide is sad. Very sad. 

Sunday, March 08, 2015

If you don't ask, you don't get

Alys Fowler's last line in her well considered and heartfelt piece in the Guardian this morning says it all. She reflects on buildings and cities without trees , shrubs and greenery . As a personal piece it strikes a chord and means a lot. We may live predominantly in cities and suburbs but here there is no reason to ignore and exclude nature and its benefits. Yes, you have to think. Yes, you have to plan and yes, there has to be ongoing thought. In some cases it might take community involvement to sustain greenery in the suburbs and cities. Thinking and planning are critical...but so is asking for us to have liveable cities and suburbs. Concrete and bricks are harsh and in our Adelaide heat unbearbly hot. We need respite. We have the Himeji Gardens on South Terrace which are a well planned and self contained place of peace and tranquility. The same goes for the Chinese Gardens in Darling Harbour. These self contained and well thought out oases are surprisingly successful in how they can bring respite and happiness in a busy place. At work, our car park has an assortment of  trees. They have put some gum trees which attract the rosellas at this time of the year. Great for nature, not so good if you are the one parked under the tree and have to come home and wash the car like I did last Thursday. I love seeing the rosellas. Washing my car is not really a huge price to pay. Those trees should have been planted elsewhere in the grounds and would have been fine. Where I live the rosellas fly out of a big shrub when I am taking the dog for a walk. We both startle even though we know it is coming. The shrub is on the side of the road. The rosellas can happily go in there and chatter away and there is no fall out from them which causes a problem. We even get koalas sometimes in the gum trees around here. All this makes people happy and keeps them in touch with nature. It is important to think of how you are going to landscape in a city or suburb. Green round abouts are attractive, the right trees provide shade for us all and then plants attract different birds and insects. Aesthetically it is more appealing, but from a daily living point of view it is just so pleasant. One of the good things about greenery around cities is you often get wall boxes and garden beds with retainer walls. These are a welcome place to sit and rest and watch life go by. If they are in a shady area they provide respite from the heat and hot sun. We cannot rip everything up again, as Alys says, but we can think about how we can colour and green our lives . Nature can be dazzling and plants and flowers can provide lovely surprises like the beds of pansies up at Hahndorf. It's not about show. We are living beings. We respond to life.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015


Image : abc

The fires are still raging. The commitment from Jay Weatherill, our Premier, SAPOL, CFS and countless others has been extraordinary. Normal protocol would dictate that the federal government would acknowledge and support us during these demanding , traumatic times. Mainstream media was slow to acknowledge us and the Prime Minister is in Iraq. A number of federal politicians are from SA. The silence and  lack of presence has been deafening and so the priorities of the government are clear. This bushfire is serious and it is big.12, 500 hectares. That we have lost no lives is a tribute the the excellent information and organisation from those who are managing this destructive event. ShoeBoxes of Love has mobilised itself on Facebook, countless people have offered time , paddocks and horse floats to get as many horses to safety as possible and they were onto it straight away . Down south and over the city we have been breathing in smoke and  those in the immediate area will be dealing with even more smoke along with the damage. South Australians have kept themselves rallied and in good spirits. They have shown some inspiration and ingenuity when it comes to helping each other. We have our donation areas and organisations up and running. 38 houses have been lost, a  significant number of outhouses and sheds and so many trees which are being cleared quickly for safety's sake. The number of animals saved has been impressive but so many have had to be put down and that weighs heavily on us. Canadair and the citizens of Canada have sent us a firefighting aircraft to fight our worst bushfire in 30 years. We have interstate firefighters helping us as we have helped them in the past. Today will be tough. We are dealing with fires even the best in the world could not easily put out. We are tough. We just have to hope the storms will not make it worse if they come and we get rain which would help ease the burden. Right now , we are in the thick of it. Later, it will be what so many people have to do all over the world - clearing up the mess. We are ready for it but some consideration, solidarity and human compassion  from people of import and position would not go astray. 

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Thank you SA Parliamentarians


It is a very unsettling ride in Australian politics at the moment. We have had a lot to learn and I think we are finally getting it. When the federal defence minister freely and gratuitously insulted the work and the  workers of the Australian Submarine Corporation I was as incensed as anyone in South Australia. It was uncalled for and very damaging. I storified it so that I could keep a record of it , it was just such unheard of behaviour in our country. Hardly anyone has looked at it, but that doesn't matter. What matters is it's there for me to look at. What became clear, though, at the time was we have a state where parliamentarians will act swiftly and rationally on  any matter relating to the good name of our state and the people who work in it and for it. Both our Premier , Jay Weatherill and our opposition leader , Stephen Marshall spoke up clearly and strongly on our behalf and on the behalf of the Australian Submarine Corporation. A number of other prominent people in our state spoke strongly too. It was a good feeling. Inspite of the initial copy cat nonsense straight after the election, borrowed from current Australian politics , our state politicians have actually settled into a good rhythm . Maybe the sad loss of  Bob Such  has had its impact in a helpful way because Bob Such worked hard for the electorate he represented and was so well respected and now sadly missed. Our parliamentarians get up in the morning and go to work. They work hard for the state. They do what we do. We all have long hours, demanding, complex work conditions, performance standards to meet and behavioural expectations in the work place. When we are free, we have a great state to relax in and a place where we can dream our dreams or just mooch and have a nice day. Our parliamentarians talk to us, represent us, speak on our behalf, speak up for causes and groups and generally conduct themselves in a productive , positive way. It's actually comforting to know that now that I have realised it. Most of the federal parliamentarians from this state are people we can be proud of and who work for an optimistic, burgeoning Australia which will benefit all of us. The state parliamentarians are good at what they do and are currently focussing on how to improve the future outlook for our state. We'll do it. We are creative , flexible thinkers here and we have some good research people in our universities who come and talk to us to help us along. I like that about our state. We all talk to each other and we all try and be good at what we do. Yes, there are those who are not like that, but that doesn't hold us up in any way. We are like running water. We glide over the bumps!