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Why I think the Tesla (and in particular Musk) haters have the bulls by the horns

I’ll come clean up front and admit that I own a Tesla road car and shares in the company. I’m also a mid 50’s white anglo Male car enthusiast, which means I probably should be a doubter of the Tesla / Musk plans.

Recent comments by ex G.M Exec Bob Lutz and others have caused me to get the keyboard tapping though, because I think they are so wrong in their thinking about Tesla and Musk and what makes the game tick.

Lutz and others have said that Tesla is headed for the automotive graveyard and that this will represent a massive historical failure etc. He might be right on one count (I personally don’t think so) in that maybe Tesla will go out backwards in the next 5 to ten years due to competition from the “traditional manufacturers” in the electric market. If it does, that will be a SUCCESS for Musks plan, not a failure and that is what these guys don’t get.

Musk set out not to build the worlds most profitable car company, but to prove that Electric cars can work, and be good cars and be in demand an MOST IMPORTANTLY stop the development of fossil fuelled cars. The more competition he gets, the more his point is proven and his success assured.

If you’ve ever watched kids racing cars (or Karts, or bikes) you’ll know they are fast not because of skill (so much), but because of lack of fear. They have a single fixed goal, no fear and they just go for it. As they get older and get responsibilities and families and memories of their life etc. fear and anxiety develop and they SLOW DOWN and become risk averse. Tesla (and Musk in particular) are the young race drivers, and Bob and his cronies are the older slower (once upon a time successful) guys reminiscing about “how fast I was”. Are there risks in the Tesla approach, you better believe it. Have their been and will there be more failures, Absolutely.

But I think Tesla will survive and I think thrive and here’s why

Tesla has proven ALREADY that motoring is becoming a software business.

Are there risks in trying to prop up dead industries whilst dabbling in new technologies ? I don’t know, ask Kodak, or Photocopier companies, or printer manufacturers. I own a Tesla (well the bank does) and I presently also own a couple of fossil cars. I’ve come to refer to them as the “Fax machines” in the garage.

Apple proved conclusively that phones and computers are a software business many years ago and they seem to have done ok. Steve Jobs said early on “Any software business that really serious about it has to build their own hardware”

Apple went up against Microsoft IN CHOSEN MARKETS and made them look silly. Tesla have done exactly the same, and embarrassed the traditional automotive guys to catch up. Microsoft tried that with Windows Mobile (for phones). It seems to have not gone well for them…………..

Why was (and for now is) Apple successful. A massive fixation on design, on the product, on helping people understand what they want before they wanted it. Jobs was a god like figure to many of his employees and most of his customers. The similarities are pretty clear.

The dinosaur auto manufacturers have been playing down the threat from Tesla and Electric for many years only to be slowly coming around (now that they’ve amortised as much of their investment in Fossil fulled plant and machinery as they think they can get away with). Are they abandoning their dirty habits and going full on Electric. No their not, why not ?. Here’s a few possible reasons:-

  • They don’t really believe it’s true
  • They have fear and anxiety like older race drivers ?
  • They have a customer based they’ve “sold a line to” who they can’t yet abandon
  • They want to see Electric cars at a loss to “hurt” Tesla (Lutz actually suggested this in his comments)

People bought Windows phones, I know a few of them. Some people said they weren’t a bad effort, but it was always clear Microsofts heart wasn’t in it it. It wasn’t “The Game” it was “A game”. They failed, they don’t talk about it. Tesla, and more spectacularly Space-X have had a LOT of failures. They talk about them.

For Tesla, renewables is “The Game” and for Musk it’s what he sees we as humans MUST do. Profit and success are ancillary. Sounds like Jobs and Apple to me. They’ve done ok. (RIP Jobs, you did great work).

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Posted by on September 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Dreamers Circus – Second Movement – A Review

I should start out by openly stating I am a massive fan of this trio from Denmark & Sweden after accidentally catching them live in Sydney a number of months ago (quite a number now). A trio that mixes expert Violin, Piano accordion, piano, guitar (and it’s many ancient variations) into something truly modern and exciting. Yes, it’s exciting to listen to.

The latest CD, ‘Second Movement’ is quite amazing. I don’t know if it’s a folk collection, a small symphony (as the name suggests), a whole new Genre , Modern folk, or just ‘World Music’ (and no I don’t mean just !).

Frankly, I don’t care what you call it, it’s a beautiful musical journey and expertly delivered. I was very happy to purchase a decent bit rate version knowing what these three are capable of and I certainly haven’t been disappointed in the 4 weeks I’ve been playing it. I recently treated myself to some new Hi-Fi components and this album has been a real treat to explore them with.

The tracks flow like an old school album used to, it’s not a collection of songs, it’s a journey into a style which is very engaging and brilliantly recorded as well as performed.

In a slight departure from the first album, there is real pace and intensity here, a lot of light and shade in the sounds and the delivery. It’s like, to me, the musicians have become more comfortable with what they are doing, and let the music develop. And who knew that piano accordion could be so cool. In fact I think that’s the thing with this recording, it doesn’t care what people think, it’s got a confidence in its own sound. Hell there’s even some vocal like musings on sofastykket which work, strangely.

I quipped recently that they are like a new version of one of my all time favourite bands, the UK based SKY with Australian Guitarist John Williams. I now thing that’s an ill placed claim, because whilst these guys are clearly as talented as Williams, Monk, Fry and Peek it’s an altogether different sound. SKY were always trying to sound different and classical at the same time (largely successfully) but these guys are just playing what they love, and it’s bleedingly obvious.

There are no discernible bad tracks on the album to my ears and I must admit I find it hard to pick a favourite, it seems to change daily. As Jeremy Clarkson once said of his favourite album, Who’s Next by the Who, I like, and I mean I really like, every single track. Surely that’s the measure of a great recording. There are no ‘passenger’ tracks here. If you push me I’ll say “Prelude to the sun” is outstanding and has some Australian connections (via Princess Mary of Denmark, a huge fan of these guys) and is a tiny bit of a standout.

The musicality of the work, and the natural sounds are quite brilliant.

To be an effective review I feel i should be critical of this work in some areas. I’m struggling to be honest. I’ve probably been top to bottom over the tracks at least 40 times and i’m not tired of any of them. OK, if pushed I can say it’s probably crap as ‘background music’ (a term I really dislike anyway. It’s an attention seeking recording, an why shouldn’t it be. It’s Art after all.

So how do I conclude ?, well here’s a link

A Room in Paris

to the somewhat strange video clip of the ‘single’ such that there is one. See what you think, but if your tastes are anything like mine, you’ll need the whole album, it’s very good indeed.

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

High Res Audio – I’m confused at the record companies and the public.

High Res Audio – I’m confused and very annoyed at the record companies and the public.

Let me explain in as simple terms as I can.

The Compact Disc, for audio usage, was invented in 1982. For those of us old enough to remember, it doesn’t seem so long ago. In reality people, that’s 33 years ago.

Our TV sets were colour analogue receivers and FM Radio was only just becoming the norm, and I mean only just.

Put another way, we are presently using, as ‘state of the art’ audio a digital technology which is 33 years old. If CD’s were our computers, that would be equivalent to the ‘then newly released’ Commodore 64 and Lotus 123 V1.0.

One year earlier Sony had a digital camera which recorded onto floppy discs.

In that context you might understand why I’m fuming about the lack of publication and availability (in Australia at least) of what is broadly referred to as Hi Resolution Audio. Let me explain the technobabble as best I can.

Prior to CD’s we had audio in analogue format (remember analogue cell phones etc). This was a continuous stream of audio sounds crudely in many cases reproduced from vinyl records via turntables, needles etc. It worked and in some cases was very good. Because we hear in analogue (not in 0’s and 1’s) it sounded pretty natural but the media (Vinyl) often let the technology and the sound quality down.

The CD introduced digital storage (1’s and 0’s) which were written to the magic compact disc via computer technology. The analogue sound was converted by electronics ‘listening’ (sampling) to the audio and making the conversion. The is the A/D (analogue to digital) conversion part of the puzzle. When you want to listen to it, it goes back to analogue via D/A (digital to analogue) conversion, or DAC.

As we know from computer screens (which have gone from 650×350 in 1984 to typically 1920×1080 now), printed digital photos etc etc. the concept of resolution refers to how many pieces of data (1’s and 0’s)  are used to trick our analogue brains into seeing something which is continuous. More pixels means a smoother image, less ‘errors’ and more ability to ‘describe’ the subject with more ‘digital paint’.

Bill Gates once famously said no computer is ever likely to need more than 640 Kbyte of memory, and here i am on my laptop with some 60 times that amount.

So, back to audio. We’re still in 1982 basically, and that has been deemed by the publishers to be ‘all we need’. Well frankly, I need more.

There is some debate about the human ears ability to pick up the difference between CD quality (16 Bits at a sampling rate of 44Khz) vs HRA (High Resolution Audio) at (say) 24 Bits at a sampling rate of say 96Khz. The debate is valid BUT if some people (and I’m one of them) think they can hear the difference, why not sell the higher resolution recordings at a premium to those who want it. In the computer technology style developments, its basically a 12 month screen resolution upgrade.

The objections seem to be (with my associated refutations)

  • We don’t have hi res recordings (Rubbish all modern recording is done digitally and at higher res than i’m asking for)
  • You can’t tell the difference (I believe I can, and so can others, and we’re happy to pay for the privelige)
  • They take up more space (Yeah like digital storage space is expensive and hard to get…. NOT !!!)
  • Apple don’t support hi-res (Actually their hardware does, I play at 24/96 on my iPhone, just not with Apples software or Apple supplied music)
  • The average person doesn’t care (Nor did they care about screen resolution, digital photo resolution etc. until they saw it)
  • People just want to stream not buy music (yes and no, and another topic altogether), but Hi_res streaming is starting to happen anyway.

Now in the US and UK and Europe there are some websites where you can buy HRA recordings, but almost all of their content is geo-blocked in Australia and there are no equivalent websites with a wide range of HRA digital content.

So why oh why do my ears have to be content with 1982 digital audio. My equipment and my ears can tell and can handle much better. I’m sure yours can too if you ever get the chance to hear it.

The latest development to get an incredulous reaction from me is that recently i’ve been specifically asking artists and publishers for HRA versions of recordings to buy. The most common reaction is “why do you want such high quality recordings, what are you going to do with them ?”. To me this is the equivalent of a movie producer saying “why do you want my movie in BluRay that’s too good for your eyes”. I mean I understand that it’s not a mainstream concept and people are confused, but like so many things in technology and other areas of interest, once you know, you can’t believe it took you so long to find out.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

OK So it’s not actually the Supermarkets Fault or is it ?

For ages I’ve been banging on about the apparent supermarket duopoly and the apparent misuse of their market position. It’s a common contention or opinion that this might lead to them exerting undue pressure or direction on pricing, suppliers, consumers etc. Are they the true villains, perhaps, perhaps not.

We live in a capitalist economy. That’s a fact whether you and I like it or not (I actually do, most of the time).

The role of the capitalist is to respond to demand in the most effective way possible and make as much profit as they can from the demand in the marketplace. Now here’s the thing, the marketplace chooses whether to buy from the capitalist or not. So if the apparent duopolistic supermarkets are making obscene amounts of money (whether or not they then use that money for questionable purposes or just paying a dividend to their shareholders) then someone, in fact a lot of someones are choosing to spend their hard earned cash at the establishments of those apparent duopolist. In other words the consumer is the villain creating the demand and choosing to have that demand satisfied in that way, by those capitalists. So the consumer is in fact rubber stamping the behaviours of the supermarkets, good bad or indifferent.

The consumer can change ALL of this, but they don’t.

So the supermarkets are innocent in all this ? Well perhaps not. Demand is something delivered by consumers to the capitalist market. It’s created by a need or a want. But what creates that need or want ? Let’s look at say.. Fresh food.. One of my favourite topics (in every sense). What we need to live is a good balance of nutritional food, fresh is generally regarded as best so as to retain those nutrients. What are our choices then to obtain such foods:-

  1. Grow it ourselves (worked once, can work again)
  2. Barter with someone else who grows what we want, in exchange (perhaps) for something we grow that they want (balance)
  3. Use a monetary exchange to purchase produce from a commercial grower (once upon a time called a farmer, not a lot of those left now but you get the idea)
  4. Use a monetary exchange to buy from a produce market (requires you to get up early and often buy more than you need)
  5. Use a monetary exchange with a providore (Butcher, Baker, Greengrocer etc.) who buys from the aforementioned markets and // or farmers and is more suited to consumer levels of supply (i.e. Just a bit of stuff we can use this week)
  6. Use a monetary exchange with a general store
  7. Use a monetary exchange with a Supermarket.
  8. God forbid, buy food at a petrol station (probably owned by a supermarket anyway)

Consumers like most people are fundamentally lazy. That’s not a criticism, it’s just the way we are. Given the choice, we’ll do less work if we can. Supermarkets play on this by locating all produce (or all produce as they define the term) in one place; The “Super” “Market”.  They also put certain foods and products they want us to buy at certain heights and in certain concentrations.

Like the Americans (don’t get me started on that little sub-culture) who started this trend, Australians are fond of doing less frequent shopping in less shops and still managing to have “everything they need” and quite a bit they don’t. So in a way the “Supermarket” companies are perhaps redefining demand by telling us what we want and perhaps redefining supply by telling us what we can have.

Unusually, we seem to like being told what we can have and how we can have it, in return for this so-called convenience. Almost as a by-product of the popularity of this convenience, the apparently duopolistic supermarket chains have considerable control over the supply AND demand; they control the input and the output pricing, only really affected by their competitive drive against each other as there seems to be very little competition in their minds or our behaviours, from outside the apparent duopoly. That is a function of concumer behaviour and the consumer is still to blame.

So in reality the perception that the supermarkets have control is brought about by our laziness to exercise our minds and rights to do something else.

So what are the downsides of this behaviour and control. These are all speculation and contention, however it may be that:-

  1. Food Products (including animals) are reported to be designed to a formula stipulated by the Supermarkets
  2. Growers are potentially disadvantaged by the control of their markets and hence their ability to price and sell their goods suitably
  3. Reduction in the availability of speciality and/or local shops because the demand (and supply perhaps) is potentially controlled by the apparent duopoly.
  4. Food Miles are typically increased because products are shipped long distances to centralised distribution hubs and then back to supermarkets. Small local producers are not favoured.
  5. Apparent and reported unfair business practices abound as rumour.
  6. Product selection tuning, whereby supermarkets could use shelf position and shelf space to change buyers habits and behaviours.
  7. Inhumane animal treatments due to cost pressures and volumes
  8. Apparent Price manipulation, by controlling demand and supply by definition you have control over price.
  9. Limitation of the ability of a farmer to sell property in the open market due to a reduction in available ‘output’ targets for farm produce, i.e. The duopoly controlling the buying and selling of supply businesses
  10. I could go on and on and on (I often do).

So what options are there for control of these practices or reducing the control of the large supermarkets. In my mind essentially there are two options and only one will work.

  • Government regulations. Won’t work because
    • It’s very hard to do
    • It’s anti competitive in many ways
    • It’s socialistic and anti capitalistic
    • It smacks of ‘big brother’
    • Although labeling products AND businesses owned and/or controlled by the supermarkets would be a very good idea in my opinion.
  • Consumers change where they spend their money. Will work because
    • It’s our choice
    • Its a free country
    • It’s possible without government assistance
    • It’s the power of the people saying what we want
    • There’s a small group of us who’ve started already.

Personally I chose, as a matter of principal, to NOT spend ANY money in the major supermarkets ever, a few years ago. So I just don’t. It’s that simple really. There’s a lot of alternative approaches, they do work and they don’t always result in more expense (although they usually do).

  1. I like the fact I know what farms my meat comes from, who owns those farms and how those animals were raised and treated.
  2. I like the fact that all of the slaughtered animal gets used and I try to use different and less popular parts whenever I get the chance.
  3. I like that I spend less money on stuff I don’t actually need and more on things that matter (to me).
  4. I like knowing the growers/store owners and being in conversation (i.e. Two way) about what I want to buy, how I want to use it and the form I like to buy it in, and even the price.
  5. I really like that my meat comes from a butcher who cares; my fruit and Veg from greengrocers who care and other items (including toilet paper) are made in an environmentally responsible way.
  6. YES, IT DOES COST MORE MONEY.

So why should you spend more money than you do at the supermarkets. Well this could become a very long blog if I went into the details in my head, but put simply if you don’t like what the supermarkets are doing, and that’s entirely your decision and choice based on your own assessment, you might be seen to be hypocritical if you benefit from those activities economically.

Logically therefore if the alternative is more expensive then so be it.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Road Safety…..

Hmm, Road safety……….

What are we doing about the safety of the roads themselves…… ah nothing much.

What are we doing about the skillset of the average nut behind the wheel……. ah nothing much.

What are doing about vehicle safety standards……… it’s come a long way, but there’s a way to go.

What’s the relationship between collected fines and expenditure on roads, driving skills and safety standards….. ah that’d be NOTHING !

So here’s an idea, stupid maybe, but it’s an idea.

  • Continue, if you must, to extract taxes, Oh I mean fines from motorists
  • Spend a FIXED percentage (with at least two digits and the first one isn’t 1 or 2) on Road safety improvements, i.e. safety of the road device itself.
  • Anyone caught speeding or driving negligently is not only fined but mandated to do an advanced approved driving course and a psyche assessment before being allowed to continue driving.
  • Everyone is tested for driving skills every year BUT, each year it’s a different test
    • Night driving
    • Emergency Recovery
    • Bad Weather driving
    • Small country Road driving
    • Freeway Etiquette and control
    • etc.
    • If you fail you don’t lose your license but must do the same test again in 3 months, and if you fail again, back onto P plates etc until you get better.
  • NO Licenses granted on automatic vehicles. You MUST learn on a full manual and pass your test that way. You MAY then choose to drive whatever you like (subject to the below conditions).
  • Random vehicle safety checks (shocks, brakes, lights)
  • Just fix the damn Taxi thing. FFS. Professional drivers my arse. Get the shit boxes off the road as well, what kinda joke is that.
  • If you’re going to drive a four wheel drive you’ll need a special license. These are large specialist vehicles with unique safety “features” and special care and attention should be exercised when driving them.

Have you (like me) ever wondered why if “Speed Kills” a race car can crash (dramatically) at 200 – 320 km/h into a barrier or another car, and then a barrier, rollover, fly through the air, land upside down etc and the driver gets out, brushes himself down and walks off. There’s lots of buts in this, however the biggest BUT is “BUT they don’t very often die or turn into vegetables” (YES it DOES happen sometimes). We know how to make it a whole lot safer but we’re just not doing it. The politicians are clearly stating that the lives lost are not worth the money it would cost to correct the problem.

There is only one goal, ZERO Road toll. If the Speed Kills campaign is right (and I’m confident it’s not, at least not in simple terms)  and speed is defined as distance over time (which I’m pretty sure it is) you can only achieve a zero road toll by being parked and never going anywhere, and everyone else being parked as well.

Now that might go someway to explaining NSW traffic planning but I don’t think they’re quite that clever……………………….

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Roads & Road safety

 

Why can’t Australian drivers merge ?

I don’t get it. Two lanes of traffic need to ‘zipper’ together, and yet we see all the cars foot on brakes crawl to a complete stop. Simply leave a gap, accelerate the other car into the gap and keep moving.

FFS !!! It’s not rocket science……..

And whilst I’m on the subject, surely it’s obvious that the car on the freeway or main road has basic right of way and the car merging in from an on ramp etc has to make the running, and should ACCELERATE into  the hole, not brake DURING the merge. Seriously are we that lacking in common sense. Anyone would think we’re trying to merge a split atom not two lines of cars…………………

On the road in Australia, invariably when the road narrows, we lose the left lane.

Timid drivers (young, old, inexperienced) get nervous about last minute lane changes, and hence gravitate to the right lanes.  Trucks tend to have difficulty changing lanes (because of idiotic car drivers) so they’ll often hold the right lane early before the narrowing as well.

We really don’t want them there, they need to be left most of the time (as does everyone really). So why not (like the UK) end the right lane. It clearly makes a lot more sense.

FFS !!!

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Roads & Road safety

 

Speed limits, licensing and traffic management

FFS !!

Speed limits, licensing and traffic management are currently based on stopping traffic rather than encouraging it’s flow.  Policing is based on a big stick approach, rather than a stick and carrot approach. Whilst advances in vehicle safety have been largely responsible for lower death tolls, accident rates have not changed (need to check this) and speed limit reduction is the claimed source of the road toll reduction. 

  • Any road death is unacceptable. A road ‘toll’ is a clear sign we have got it wrong and it must not be tolerated or accepted. Should fines on offences be continued, a large percentage therefrom will be devoted to safety reserach to include:-
    • Minimising intersection traffic 
    • Road barriers, power poles, and trees
    • Vehicle safety including changes to restraints and other active and passive protection including consideration of roll cages and helmets.
    • Random vehicle safety checks
    • ANNUAL Driving tests on a rotating set of key disciplines. Failure requires additional training and re-testing within 3 months.
    • TV Advertising campaign based on safer driving techniques (separate blog entry to follow)


  • Massive changes are needed to aid road traffic flow. A few simple ideas
    • Concrete viaducts for pedestrians to cross under roads
    • NO RIGHT TURNS ALLOWED except in designated right turn lanes. Exempted from say 9:00 pm till 4:30 am
    • Recovery trucks and cranes on busy roads during peak periods every 3 km, stationed on the non peak side of the road and authorised to use it.
    • Merging cameras which enforce by law a one for one merging rule. No exceptions, fines issued by mail / email / direct debit
    • A general capacity for police to fine motorists for impeding traffic flow including but not limited to
      • Driver UNDER speed (10% below limits without reason)
      • Stopping without traffic / safety based cause
      • Driving in a lane more right than necessary for sustained period (cameras to be used)
      • Turning from an incorrect lane
      • Erratic late lane changing causing disruption to traffic flow
      • Failure to correctly indicate EVERY time with minimum distance warnings (60 metres++)
      • Driving in a manner likely to reduce the flow efficiency of traffic without due cause
    • Fine all Taxis on site, by definition, based on the above.
  • Offenders guilty of driving offences will be mandated to attend driver training courses rather than pay fines. The points system (modified) would continue to operate.
  • Drivers of unregistered vehicles and/or unlicensed drivers will be fined a minimum of $10,000 and jailed for up to 12 months.
  • Separate speed limits on ALL roads for low visibility conditions such as rain, fog etc vs ‘normal’ conditions. This will facilitate higher limits in some cases, during ‘normal’ conditions. Higher limits would only be available to new super license holders.
  • Super License holders will be tested annually, have a maximum BAC of 0.02 and be allowed some freedoms in speed conditions when the road, the conditions and the vehicle are all suitably qualified.
  • Speed limits to be changed to speed zones designated by a coloured road lines which designate the zoning of the road. This should allow the removal of speed signs and a more dynamic method of zone – speed assignment. For example in the unlikely event of snow in an area in Sydney, a bulletin could simply downgrade all zones by 50%. indeed that might be a good use of the otherwise useless electronic signage which has sprung up around the place that reminds us “slow down when wet……” FFS !!!
  • Vehicles will be tagged differently depending upon age and dynamic and passive safety ratings.  These ratings will change the maximum speeds allowable in various speed zones
  • Registration labels will be abolished, replaced by VIN Bar Code and/or RFID tag scanning.
  • School zones on main transit roads will be removed. Where schools occupy main road frontages, fences, overhead pedestrian bridges and suitable parking controls will be put in place to ensure children are not at risk. In conjunction with the public transport plan parents will be strongly discouraged from driving children to and from school. 
  • Toll roads will be required by law to refund tolls in the event of major delays during peak hours.
  • Aged drivers will have their licenses progressively downgraded (reverse P plates effectively) from age 65 unless they pass suitable (rigorous) driving capability tests. Restrictions may include “distance from home” and “no freeway” restrictions as well as “no peak hour” etc.
  • Variable road taxes based on engine capacity and power output as well as vehicle weight. Designated eco vehicles are exempt.
  • CBD pedestrian viaducts to maximise traffic flow and protect pedestrian safety.

FFS !! It’s not that hard.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Roads & Road safety