Too Much “Protection” from Australian Governments
When we visited Mountain View for an interview with Google, I was surprised to see that the Californian government has a surprisingly "user take responsibility for yourself" type of attitude. Examples in the railway system:
- The Caltrain diesel trains run for considerable distances with no fence around the track;
- you walk across the railway track to get to the other platform at stations.
- I saw no railway bridges; there are very many level crossings.
Example in the Santa Cruz mountains: winding mountain roads have a cliff with a fatal drop on one side, but no fence or barrier. I had to be brave to drive up Black Road, which runs down from Skyline Boulevard to Lexington Reservior.
I expected that the home of the law suit would take a very conservative view of safety of the citizen.
Australia, on the other hand, has been consumed by a need felt by governments to protect their citizens from themselves. Examples:
- Years ago I loved the wild wonder of the North Head of Batemans Bay, but when I took my wife and son there, found that the area was cordoned off so far back with fences and signs warning of danger of cliff collapse, that we could not even see the sea from the top.
- The stairs on the Auburn side of the stepping stones that cross Duck River from Mackay Street in Granville have been closed off by Auburn Council.
Who is Protecting Whom?
The Council, I am sure, will say that they erected this barrier to protect their citizens from the danger of slipping on the stepping stones.
I have watched a mother carry her baby in her arms down this precarious slope, while her husband balanced the push chair over his head. I see many elderly people climb up the steps, then squeeze through the railings at the top.
So many people cross the River here every day. None I have spoken with are satisfied with the Council erecting this barrier. The alternative walk is a very long deviation via Mona Street, which a large number of people are not prepared to take.
It would be an interesting exercise to count the number of people who cross here every day. I would be surprised if it did not frequently exceed fifty people a day.
“It's their fault”
The Council's response would be, “It's their fault, endangering themselves like that. The warning signs and the barrier clearly show the danger.”
However, the danger is not so much the stepping stones; the danger is more from the barrier placed there by the Council.
Who is Protecting Whom?
Is Auburn Council protecting its citizens? Or is it only interested in protecting itself from a lawsuit?
What do you think?