The signs they are a-changin'

Liz Breslin
Liz Breslin
You can get used to anything, so they say. Just when you've got used to the newer, larger, shinier one-way-bridge sign, it gets replaced with more roadworks, writes Liz Breslin.

Just when you're used to the roadworks, they get replaced by traffic lights - not just any traffic lights but the first traffic lights in the Upper Clutha. You realise that over the past 20 years of bridge use you've got Pavlovishly used to raising your open palm and cocking it slightly in a wave of acknowledgement to the stationary traffic on the other side, and now when you try it all you see is people with one eye on their screen and another on the red of the light.

You are so mad about the lights and about this swift dispatch of camaraderie that you forget to inwardly grumble about the existence of those signs that say NO JUMPING with a helpful crossed out graphic of somebody diving. You hate those signs, but you're thinking about how red means stop and green means go and amber means everything's changing, so you're that much closer to your daily grind when you realise. You turn right, right and left and head back into the bridge line, as if heading for home again.

The Albert Town bridge's no jumping sign. Photo: Liz Breslin
The Albert Town bridge's no jumping sign. Photo: Liz Breslin
Red means stop and red means screen but it's green so you drive slowly through and sure enough, just like that, it's gone. You turn left, right and right, swinging an arc round the campground and back into the traffic line. Red means stop and red means screen but you know the law so you wait until you're at your desk before you email the nice helpful people from Aspiring Highways again.

They reply in record time - 57 minutes to be precise. Thank you for your email questioning the removal of the "No Jumping" signs from The Albert Town bridge, they say.

At this point it is our assumption that they have been removed by persons unknown and the location and condition of the signs is unclear, they say. Let me know if you have any further questions, they say.

You have many further questions. Why is nobody dangerously jumping all of a sudden? It's almost like it's May and people have common sense. What was the motivation for the persons unknown? A trophy? A political statement? What is the penalty for sign stealing? You decide not to call the police to ask their opinion on the criminality of the matter - they still haven't returned your last call, so they're clearly very busy.

Google is your friend though, so disregarding the red stop signs all over your mind, you plug in the words "bridge", "sign", "removal" and "penalty" and find yourself diving headlong into a QLDC document called Enforcement Strategy and Prosecution Policy. It has targeted areas and proportionate enforcement and interagency collaboration and goals and outcomes and a matrix with crosses in boxes but you can't find the bit where it says who is going to enforce what about signs, never mind when and how.

What does it matter anyway, you wonder? The 5847 signatories of the online petition to "Get Albert Town Bridge Jumping UNBANNED" are going to be feeling happy. The free folk of the Upper Clutha Trading Post? Feeling happy. The persons unknown - they'd be feeling happy, too.

The lovely people at Council - sure to be feeling happy. After all, putting up signs (rhyming ones and speed-limiting ones) and taking them down (just the speed-limiting ones) is something they have a great affinity for. Still, best not to bother them - they've got a lot on at the moment anyway.

Rumour is they're busy big-upping bed taxes and jet planes, and selling off housing habitats better suited to birds. But you don't like to listen to rumours. And you remember they said it wasn't their business in the first place, the bridge sign. So no wonder it's not covered in their Enforcement Strategy and Prosecution Policy.

Red means stop and green means go and you notice something else on your way home over the bridge - there is no amber phase as far as you can tell. The lights go straight from red to green and back again on repeat. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. So you stop. And away you go.



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