One thing many of us can probably agree on is that if we're going to be in lockdown during a worldwide pandemic, we're lucky that we had to do it in Canberra. Not least because of the easily accessible parks and reserves where we can still get a daily dose of the outside world, breathing in fresh air and getting some exercise.
One place getting a lot of love during the pandemic is Mount Taylor, its car park often packed, especially at the end of the "working day", whatever that is now, and on the weekends. About 4000 people walk, talk, cycle and jog their way up and around the reserve each month.
So, many people may have been happy to hear the ACT government is now looking to further upgrade the Mount Taylor car park, including increasing its size, and improving its access. Because the first attempt, finished only last year, is a bit of schmozzle.
For a start, no one travelling westbound along Sulwood Drive can turn right into the car park. You have to travel about a kilometre down the road to find somewhere to turn around, come back and then enter the car park with a left-hand turn. Budget constraints at the time have been blamed for that decision.
Transport Minister Chris Steel said "stage two" of the works at Mount Taylor would likely involve road widening to provide a right hand turning bay into the car park. A pedestrian island would also be built in the middle of Sulwood Drive, near Mannheim Street.
"Our ACT Labor government is also undertaking a feasibility study on a new shared path connection along Sulwood Drive from Drakeford Drive to Athlon Drive, to address one of the key missing links in our southern cycle path network," Mr Steel said.
A 4km east-west cycling and walking path along Sulwood Drive, connecting Athllon and Drakeford drives, was also promised by ACT and federal Labor during last year's federal election.
There was also a lot of scrambling from ACT pollies this week to show how much they had pushed to improve the Mount Taylor facilities. The Liberals' Mark Parton said he "lobbied hard to get the Mt Taylor car park built back in 2017 including a motion in the chamber". Minister Steel and fellow Labor MLA Bec Cody "as Kambah residents" said they "sponsored petitions on behalf of the community calling for the upgrades". There's voters in them thar hills. And this is an election year.
But what can't be forgotten is that the push for improvements at Mount Taylor came from the grassroots, residents worried about the safety of motorists and pedestrians in the area.
The "car park" was once just a dirt track and motorists would randomly cross double-lanes at any point along Sulwood Drive - an 80km/h road - to access it. Local resident Taryn Langdon says things are better than they were before, not least because the single-entry stops people crossing the road at any point. She agrees the solution wasn't perfect and there was frustration about the lack of a right-hand turn. But she believes it was, ultimately, a victory for people power. Roads ACT initially had to be convinced the dirt track was even a car park and warranted its attention.
Jeremy Smith, executive branch manager, infrastructure delivery, for Roads ACT, said a feasibility study and design work would be done for this latest work before it went out to tender. The first upgrade of the car park cost $200,000. "The stage one of improvements was to improve the car park itself. To show designated parking, to improve the parking surface and to provide some safe entry and egress. Unfortunately, available budget at that point didn't allow us to do the right-turn movement into the car park," he said.