Cycling article from The Punch

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Cycling article from The Punch

Postby Ross » Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:14 am

http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/use ... s-v-bikes/

The article itself is pretty well balanced (pun not intended) but the usual predictible anti cycling comments from the anonymous keyboard warriors drag it down. One interesting comment (if true - sounds a bit excessive) is that there are approx 800 cyclists crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge every hour.

Ensuring safe passage for our Lycra warriors

by Steven Marshall

24 Jan 05:45am

Across Australia today a familiar push and shove is taking place as cyclists vie for space with the ever increasing numbers of cars on our roads. It is a pattern that is repeated throughout our towns and cities; a symptom of our car loving culture and sense of road entitlement from drivers and cyclists alike.

Drivers resent the packs of Lycra warriors when they take up entire lanes and invent their own road rules, and cyclists understandably fear cars which are often wielded like 100 tonnes of road clearing debris.

Neither party is blameless in this dangerous game of chicken, but it is up to state governments to appreciate the differing needs of commuters and adjust their infrastructure accordingly.

My home city of Adelaide last week played host to the Tour Down Under, a cycling Mecca which brought in the likes of Lance Armstrong and thousands of enthusiastic fans.

According to one keen bike rider who I have spoken to, there is no safer time to be riding on Adelaide roads as drivers accept that for two weeks bikes are legitimate modes of transport.

However, even as Mike Rann posed in his Lycra and sent flirty tweets to Lance Armstrong the reality of the situation is that for the rest of the year Adelaide is a dangerous place for South Australian bike riders.

Adelaide, with its wide streets and gentle gradients should be a bike rider’s paradise; but it remains a city fraught with dangers. Speak to any cyclist and they will tell you a horror story of pot holes, aggressive bus drivers, bike lanes that end suddenly (if they exist at all) and a hostile driving culture which means riders are as likely to be met with a bottle to the head as they are to a friendly wave from drivers.

Premier Mike Rann needs to realise that bike riding is a year long event. Cyclists deserve to feel safe every time they take to the road, not just when celebrities are in town.

There is a natural friction which occurs between cyclists and drivers as they fight for space on busy main roads, which is why I propose the establishment of shared commuter zones named bicycle boulevards on smaller roads which run parallel to the main thoroughfares.

These bicycle boulevards would give riders and pedestrians enough space to travel safely while also slowing down and alerting motorists to the increased presence of cyclists. I believe cycle routes situated adjacent to main roads should be considered by state governments across Australia as a cost effective way of both protecting bike commuters and encouraging the uptake of cycling in our communities.

The entrenched grudge between those on two wheels and those on four is unlikely to subside easily, but by creating dedicated bike lanes on non-arterial roads we are relocating large numbers of cyclists off dangerous main roads, thus bypassing many of the problems.

This is a solution that I have looked at in my own seat of Norwood, which despite its wide roads, tree lined streets and close proximity to the city still has only a small amount of everyday commuter cyclists.

Safety fears remain the core reason that people don’t use cycling as their premier mode of transport, and governments need to improve road infrastructure so that more people are comfortable taking to their bikes. It is all well and good to pay lip service to the effects of climate change, but real reductions in traffic can only be achieved if there are viable transport alternatives.

The sad reality of the situation is that cyclists are most at risk when riding to and from work in peak hour.

Tired, stressed drivers and rushed bike riders are not good bed-fellows, and it is along those major city roads that they are most likely to come to grief. It is for this reason that I believe governments have a responsibility to give cyclists other options by providing safe bike routes on non-arterial roads that still allow riders to arrive at work in a timely fashion.

This is an option that I have looked at in my own electorate, with the wide yet quiet Beulah Road providing me with an opportunity to create a safe bike highway which avoids the main traffic pressure points, taking pressure off daily commuters.

However, improved roads and infrastructure is only one part of the solution. In order to cut down on the damaging bitterness between cyclists and drivers governments need to provide education to both parties.

I doubt that any driver could fail to empathise with cyclists on busy roads if they themselves had experienced being approached from behind by screeching tyres and noisy horns with only a foam helmet for protection. It would also be worthwhile if young learner drivers were taught about how to handle cyclists when in their cars, how best to overtake large groups of riders, and about responsible road etiquette.

By the same token, many cyclists also need to be educated on how to ride safely and respectfully; as it is the traffic light jumpers and footpath weavers that tarnish all cyclists’ reputation. You wouldn’t expect a 16 year old to get behind the wheel of a car without the correct training, and I don’t think that is too much to ask for young cyclists to also undergo some form of education in how best to use the road.

Cycling will only continue to grow in popularity as petrol prices increase and environmental concerns begin to change people’s behaviours, and governments need to be prepared to address the issues that this creates. As the Tour Down Under winds up in Adelaide now is a fantastic time to look at the changing needs of commuters in Australia.

The culture of antagonism between drivers and riders needs to change to one of mutual respect and understanding if we are ever to become a truly bike-friendly nation. So, instead of blithely posing with racing celebrities, it is time for our leaders to get on their bikes and give us some real solutions.
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by BNA » Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:46 am

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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby zero » Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:46 am

Its about as "balanced" as a see-saw with one person sitting on one end.

Author doesn't even know the laws concerning cyclists, and attempts to equate legal and road law following behavior by cyclists (2 abreast) and lane claiming, with criminal illegal behavior by drivers (ie menacing driving). Basically his lack of understanding demonstrates that he wants to drive "through" cyclists in lane, instead overtake them properly, and then he goes on to recommend that someone else pay for a whole bunch of long-way-round diversions for cyclists to get them off his roads - so he doesn't have to share them.

Terrible piece of fact absent journalism, and not addressing the root behaviors that cause cyclists actual difficulties.
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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby Ross » Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:59 am

Did you read the same article I did, Zero? The article seemed to be about finding a solution for cars and bikes to share the road. There is no 'magic bullet' for this. However, as the author pointed out education (and tolerance) of both parties would be a good start.
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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby stryker84 » Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:20 am

Don't know where you're coming from, Zero, I thought it pretty balanced and decent too. Sure, there are some little lines where it seems he may not be clear on ALL the rules, but on the whole, he acknowledges that both drivers and cyclists should be sharing the roads (proposing separate shared/bike paths does not equate to taking bikes off roads, merely proposing an alternative to the dangerous situation now), and that not all cyclists (and also not all drivers) are at fault (3rd last paragraph).

Bravo for a well written piece, I say.
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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby zero » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:16 am

Here is my summary of what is dud about the article.

1 - the legal flaws.

2 - the author has absolutely no idea when and where bicycle accidents occur. The injury stats for QLD had a tiny exposure for arterials for example. He views arterials as being especially dangerous when in practice he has no idea whether they are or not. He also paints commuters as being in particular danger when that is just blatantly wrong. 20 people died cycling last year during the week and 17 on weekends - ie the rate of people dieing in peak hour on bicycles is extremely small.

3 - He is making conflict as significant when in practice it is not. Last week I did 100 or so onroad kms, most of it arterial - for 1 particularly close pass, by a speeder - on a NON arterial 40km/hr single lane in each direction road. Lots of people gave way to me when required, lots of people let me in safely when I used my arm to indicate. Lots of people passed me with plenty of space. This is in fact usual, and less conflict than I would expect to receive driving a car in the city.

4 - he is effectively painting cycling as something can be done safely when an absurd amount of money is spent on building infrastructure - for which he has a grandiose and unworkable plan in mind.

5 - yes I'd like to see education for young riders, but imo its much like education for P platers. They don't go out and DO what you tell them to do, and I don't see how he intends to solve that issue.
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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby rustychisel » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:32 am

It's an 'off the cuff' opinion piece, written by an SA politician who does actually care about these things.

Agreed, the article has flaws, but your characterisation does little and shows you have little idea of the discussion points he (Marshall) embarks upon. A 'boulevard' is a pretty idea without any real status, and without any logical start or end point, as it happens. Zero, I'm guessing you have no idea of the 'Beulah Road' or environs which is mentioned.

My view is that integrated traffic solutions including cars, buses, cycles and HGVs are a must, and that painted lines, segregated lanes etc are nibbling around the edges. Education and enforcement (for all parties) is the only key thing, and Marshall seems to introduce and support that notion with equanimity.
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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby Oxford » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:36 am

I think the biggest issue is that its promoting segregation and until it is possible to have 100% segregation then the notion is ludicrous. if I could faithfully plan 100% of my riding on non road infrastructure without having to go on a cooks tour to get there, that would be fine. but because to get anywhere in a reasonable time I have to at some stage interact with other vehicular traffic (and pedestrians) then its all about cooperation and sharing. that's where there needs to be a concerted effort, not segregation as that is an impossible scenario to succeed in.
Building more roads to prevent congestion is like a fat man loosening his belt to prevent obesity.
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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby zero » Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:59 pm

rustychisel wrote:It's an 'off the cuff' opinion piece, written by an SA politician who does actually care about these things.

Agreed, the article has flaws, but your characterisation does little and shows you have little idea of the discussion points he (Marshall) embarks upon. A 'boulevard' is a pretty idea without any real status, and without any logical start or end point, as it happens. Zero, I'm guessing you have no idea of the 'Beulah Road' or environs which is mentioned.

My view is that integrated traffic solutions including cars, buses, cycles and HGVs are a must, and that painted lines, segregated lanes etc are nibbling around the edges. Education and enforcement (for all parties) is the only key thing, and Marshall seems to introduce and support that notion with equanimity.


I don't like arguments based on an obviously flawed premise.

If the current state of google maps is to be believed then he hasn't pushed this through locally yet, and he'll fail in debates where the flaws in his arguments get exposed. I'm perfectly happy to accept pro-cycling rebuilds and redesignations of infrastructure, but lets do it for honest reasons that actually reflect what the item is likely to achieve.

In no way does it address the problem he is porporting exists. As it stands the road has already been extensively (badly) marked up for cycling, and given neutral or low priorities at intersections, which also smacks of regiving what was already given, and its (as I'd expected), half the length of the roads it parallels.

This kind of rebuild might convince 50 locals that live on or very near to the street to ride a bicycle to the shopping center, and it would definately enhance walking on the street - both worthy causes, but it in no way impacts or alters peak hour road usage, or the lot of the cycle commuter. Probably makes it worse, because people start expecting you to take the stupid detours and stop expecting you on the "non" cycle roads even if you happen to be near the end-point of your journey that you *must* use the "real" road.
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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby rustychisel » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:27 pm

zero wrote:
This kind of rebuild might convince 50 locals [incorrect on this point, otherwise...] that live on or very near to the street to ride a bicycle to the shopping center, and it would definately enhance walking on the street - both worthy causes, but it in no way impacts or alters peak hour road usage, or the lot of the cycle commuter. Probably makes it worse, because people start expecting you to take the stupid detours and stop expecting you on the "non" cycle roads even if you happen to be near the end-point of your journey that you *must* use the "real" road.



an excellent point summarising one of my main misgivings, not to mention the truncation of Beulah Road at the city end which spills commuting cyclists into a T junction at a very busy narrow poorly maintained Fullarton Road. Nothing is insurmountable, but this is still a death trap in waiting.
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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby greyhoundtom » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:45 pm

In Victoria many councils out my way have marked out bicycle lanes on various through roads, however invariably at every intersection or roundabout the cycle lane disappears and you are expected to either dismount and use the few available footpaths or pull out into the traffic.

Not an easy thing to do on a busy 80 km per hour road!

It’s far easier, and IMHO safer, to already be riding in the traffic stream and give the cycle paths a miss, as at least then you are part of the traffic entering the intersection or roundabout.

Unfortunately this causes some drivers to be rather agro as they firmly believe you should be riding in the designated cycle lane and not on the road.

As far as the article is concerned it was obviously written by someone with good intentions, but for me, except for better education for both drivers and cyclists, it misses the mark.

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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby trailgumby » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:59 pm

Oxford wrote:I think the biggest issue is that its promoting segregation.

+1. I think the South African phrase for that concept is "apartheid". In terms of quality of outcomes for each of the groups, we know where that leads. :roll:

What we need is Strict Liability - the driver of the vehicle with the greatest potential to cause harm is the one who owns the greater duty of care, and is the one who is deemed at fault unless evidence demonstrates to the contrary.

The order goes: Trucks owe cars owe cyclists owe pedestrians. It's worked well in Europe to make cyclists comfortable riding where they belong on the road, and would reduce the incentive for cyclists to ride the footpath and bother pedestrians.
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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby martinjs » Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:54 pm

I'm confused, when it comes to places like Denmark people rave about how good it is, also comments on how they have separate (segregated) paths everywhere.
Am I missing something? Why is it good there but bad here? :?

Please Explain :!:
:lol:

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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby Oxford » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:19 pm

martinjs wrote:I'm confused, when it comes to places like Denmark people rave about how good it is, also comments on how they have separate (segregated) paths everywhere.
Am I missing something? Why is it good there but bad here? :?

Please Explain :!:
:lol:

Martin
because when it is not segregated, the driver attitudes to cyclists are still positive. also when you have an area half the size of Tasmania and 11 times the population, its easy to build the infrastructure and justify the costs, also people are closer to everything so bikes are a viable transport option. Australia by nature is spread out and thinly populated, everything is far away from everything else, so we need to multi task the infrastructure we have, ie learn to share and cooperate.
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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby zero » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:26 pm

martinjs wrote:I'm confused, when it comes to places like Denmark people rave about how good it is, also comments on how they have separate (segregated) paths everywhere.
Am I missing something? Why is it good there but bad here? :?

Please Explain :!:
:lol:

Martin


I'm actually not against either segregated or parallel corridor dedication. European segregated is usually in-corridor, and the roads chosen are usually longer than 1-2kms long and join up to other segregated - that is either some sort of short cut, or in corridor again.

Detours are much less successful. Need only look at all the footpath using and breakdown lane salmoning and fence destroying that goes on to get around the awful 70's design fail that is Gladesville bridge for cyclists - because the cycle handling is all detour based.
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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby martinjs » Tue Jan 25, 2011 10:29 am

Personally I think some people worry way to much. Yes there are idiots out there, but the majority of drivers are very good. Over 53,000k's of cycling that I've recorded over the years (up-to another 10,000 not recorded AND they were in Melbourne) I've only had one stack involving another person and it was a pedestrian who didn't look. :roll:

That's over a 20 year period 7 solid years the rest on and off.
Not in to stats but I'd hazard to guess for every 500 vehicles that pass me there's about 1 or 2 that I've had issues with. That is a VERY low percentage, I also found the article to be pretty balanced coming from a none cyclist.
Particularly when he goes on to point out cycling is only going to increase. DON"T forget peoples, we SHARE the roads and have no more or less rights than other vehicles.

I suspect the idiot who right into the papers winging about cyclist are a minority and the best way to keep it like that is cop it on the chin. There are extremist in every group in our society and that includes here on our forums.
To those who maybe in that catagory, "Chill Out" :D :wink:

Life's to short to stress out about idiots, if they break the law and you have proof do something about it.(Yes I know some of your already do. Full point 8) )
If you can't prove it don't nick down to the Police and have a winge, their not miracle workers, if you can't prove then they have no hope.

I know I've gone on a bit, but I really believe some lose prospective a little and can't see the forest for the trees.

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Re: Cycling article from The Punch

Postby simonn » Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:38 am

Oxford wrote:Australia by nature is spread out and thinly populated, everything is far away from everything else


Dodgy excuse rolled out every time poor infrastructure is discussed.

Australia is large, however, it has almost always had one of the most urbanized populations in the world. The capital cities are densely populated. There is no excuse for bad infrastructure in the capitals, and a few smaller cities e.g. Newcastle, 'gong etc other than we let it happen.

The average trip in Sydney is <= 5km. Really.
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