On the central tram stop however, there is no such priority. Often, as I turn the corner at the end of my street in Fitzroy, I spot the next tram pulling into the platform in the middle of the road. I glance across the speeding wall of traffic, over to the blinking yellow hazard lights, as the tram doors open. I find myself frantically tapping the button on the signalised crossing, compelled to dash across the road in ever narrowing gaps in the traffic, in an attempt to catch that tram.
This is a recipe for disaster.
My proposal is for a very simple re-prioritising of the signals for central street tram stops. Either the traffic signals turn to red at the moment of pressing the button or the lights turn red as the tram arrives. A transmitter could be fitted into each tram and receiver connected to the signals at all tram stop crossings. When the tram got within range, the lights would change automatically, granting the elderly, people with restricted mobility and those with luggage or small children, enough time to cross the road.
The crossing itself could also be widened and levelled to create a scramble crossing type arrangement. This would work particularly well for stops at the edge of public plazas or gardens. Level access from pavement to tram stop could be provided and more space could be given back to those waiting in the centre of the road for the tram through a narrowing of the traffic lanes through this zone.
A wider central platform could allow space for more trees and the removal of continuous railings that separate the traffic away from the platforms could make way for sleek new bollards that provide safe barrier from traffic impact, plus lighting to the new green waiting areas and permeability to cross the street.
The wider zone for pavement close to the building edge could take space for more bike parking, encouraging intermodal connections and increasing the catchment area of each tram stop.