Something is wrong in Sturt Street and it reflects on the atrophy and recalcitrance of a city that doesn't want to grow up.
Sturt Street is one of the great boulevards in regional Australia but it is at the same time one of the major east-west arterials in a city of 105,000 people.
Its initial magnificent broad design did not take into account the insatiable demands of modern parking, let alone the perils of high speed intersections.
The ambience of its park-like median and leisurely crossovers speak of another time.
Indeed pictures of an imagined halcyon era, show just how different a world it was; this delightful stretch of greens was a place where people lingered, listening at the bandstand, dreaming in the dappled shade.
But now wedged between two relentless flows of traffic it rarely catches this languid calm, nor would one wisely linger mid- thoroughfare the way people once did.
But as progress brought its change and traffic lights marched up the hill, setting their mark at every intersection and swiftly followed by the unsightly paraphernalia of traffic signs and parking meters, so too did the nature of the street.
The question has always been how to retain the best of the past and yet accommodate these changing times, not the least of which are those traffic controls which minimise the dangers of faster cars and more numerous traffic.
Sadly, aesthetics must take a back seat to safety. The most beautiful boulevard in the world is nothing when it is also a bloodbath.
The problem for VicRoads is this is what they have to deal with on Ballarat’s most prominent street; in the five years to June, Sturt Street had 76 injury crashes between Grenville and Pleasant streets and probably countless more unrecorded fender benders and near misses.
Of these a staggering 43 or well over half, occurred at the six Sturt Street intersections without traffic lights.
“Learn how to drive!” the keyboard rabble shriek in their incontinent online responses, largely devoid of constructive ideas, foaming at any imposition - until they too fade away or themselves become victims.
This empty storm aside, what we know from modern traffic is that relying on skill or good will alone to solve safety problems has the makings for disaster.
So what is the solution? VicRoads is investigating but hasn’t yet revealed its options. Whatever they are, they’re sure to create resistance even as they become more critical for the future of a growing Ballarat.