Second M1 is dumb, dumb, dumb

The notion of a second M1 may be appealing to many (believe me I understand) but it is an incredibly stupid idea.

Not only that, it’s a huge waste of money.

If we can put aside the politics and petitions for a second, let’s examine the two main issues people have with the M1.


Congestion and congestion.

Whether it is a tragic multi-car crash at Pimpama or old Doris snailing onto the M1 southbound at West Burleigh at 67km/hour, the M1 can slow to a crawl at any given minute of any given day. This is a fact. What is not (yet) a fact is why it does this.

One topical theory (thanks to the LNP’s corflute-themed press conference Tuesday) is overcrowding; that the M1 has reached capacity already and additional roads must be built.

I have an alternative theory. People can’t drive very well.

It may not be the popular theory with the glam of online petitions nor the glitz of coloured signs, but my idea does have some merits. Namely that it is true, and that the solution is incredibly cheap comparatively.

If we lived in a world where all Queenslanders could merge properly (bear with me here) and also understood the notion that the right lane is for overtaking no matter what speed you are going (crazy I know but stay with me people!), the M1 and all major arterials would seldom if ever congest.
Anyone who lives south of Burleigh knows this to be fact.

For those who don’t live south of Burleigh and are keen to disprove my theory, by all means take a leisurely trip down the M1 from Reedy Creek to Tugun one day.

Traffic will congest no less than twice (if you’re lucky) and if you are paying attention, you will notice these bottlenecks correlate directly to freeway entry ramps.

Number one is people merging too slowly.

This is bad in and of itself but when combined with drivers in the left lane moving across to the right lane without increasing to an overtaking speed, you instantly have accident-free congestion.

From Elanora to Eight Mile Plains (and beyond), this happens up and down the M1 every day.

The corollary of this is the frequency of accidents this poor driving causes. The right-left lane dichotomy is designed to ensure that drivers who want to drive faster can. Sure they run the risk of being fined for speeding, but it is an essential element of traffic flow that the further right you are, the faster you should (indeed must) go.

People are busy and often running late so when this left-right lane system breaks down accidents happen and like it or not, an increasingly high percentage of people will seek to speed, tailgate and weave dangerously in and out of traffic to make up for time lost stuck behind a slow car in the far right lane.

This is an efficiency issue not a supply one.

Like it or not, we need to get better at driving not build more roads.

For less than (cue Dr Evil voice) $1,000,000 the state government could largely eradicate M1 congestion by introducing a mandatory Driver Competency Course.

Two hours of practical assessment driving up and down the M1 and local roads along with a touch-screen theory portion to hammer the point home. That is all it would take. Every single person who wants to drive on Queensland roads takes it, and if you haven’t done the course by X date you lose your license.

If we build more roads we will still have the same problems – addressing and eradicating driver incompetence is the best and cheapest way to make our Gold Coast roads and particularly the M1 safe and congestion-free.

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While I’d love the idea of that for so many reasons not only would it stop M1 conjectures but all of them as a whole.

Unfortunately that’s extremely unlikely, a lot of people would lose their only way to leave the house and go to work through convience but people would rather just pay for a simple solution to be erradicated through literally any other means.

And back to the real world……

Whilst I agree that people, in general, are useless at driving on the M1 and education would help some circumstances. The fact is, when there is an accident it doesn’t matter how good a driver myself and everyone else is, unless we are in monster trucks we are not getting past the blockage. Build the new road.

Your half right and half wrong.. yeah slow merges and people doing 110 in the right hand lane cause congestion and doesn’t help the capacity issue, the actual reason it slows down at Exit Onramps is because the On Ramps (unless they have the signals to control onramp flow) are essentially adding another lane of traffic. It is worst down Robina South because that represents a 50% spike in demand whilst Capacity stays the same. I.e 3 lanes of traffic need to somehow fit into 2 lanes of Highway post On Ramp.. for the Four lane sections near Coomera for eg. It’s not as bad 5 lanes of traffic trying to fit into 4 lanes of Highway and this is where your theory of merging speeds has more influence, as once the slow lane is at a crawl the domino effect happens with people trying switch lanes towards right while already at the crawl speed to get around the bottle neck. I think improving the Onramp / Off ramp flows would help northern ends of the M1, southern end of the M1 just needs more capacity plain and simple!