Maybe there are no minor issues: Getting messy and spending time on small stuff.

I have been watching interesting road user and road management behaviour on a Melbourne thoroughfare for about a year now. Doncaster Road in North Balwyn has an exclusive tram zone during particular periods of morning peak hour. It was installed with elevated directional signage and lights inset in the road pavement to make things clear to motorists that there were travel restrictions on the tram lane.

Initially motorists responded to the “directional glitz”, mostly complying with the requirement to move out of the tram lane at specified times. Then over time, the free tram lane became too great a temptation for many and the road effectively returned to a dual carriageway. What to do? Introduce the police of course with cameras and two-way radios and on-the-spot fines, waiting for motorists at the end of the carriageway.

Result? An easing in the use of the tramway for a couple of weeks, gradually building back to its significant use by cars again. Introduce police again – and, well, I suspect the reader gets the picture.

I was reflecting on this scenario, when I first saw Volkswagen's “fun theory” campaign last year. The idea behind it was that people will respond to requests when the actions requested are perceived as fun to do. The actions featured in the campaign were no doubt thought up by professionals within Volkswagen as part of a viral marketing campaign. But it also sparked a request for people to collaborate in their own places, outside of the realm of professional creativity, to identify fun ways to resolve big and small issues.

And so I began thinking about a community coalition of car, truck and bus drivers and passengers, tram drivers and passengers, local residents, local shopkeepers, police, transport authorities and local authorities – coming together to appreciate (it may seem like a strange word but I mean it) Doncaster Road, each other, the wider environment and so on. They’d be thinking about what they each really want to achieve at that place every morning and reflecting on what I might call “higher values” such as “fun” (but not just fun) and how those higher values intersect with the current dilemma.

But, of course, it would be messy and time consuming to do this and we couldn’t engage in such mess and spend such time on such a ”minor” issue, could we?

Or could we?

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