I'm a journalist and a cycling newbie, just putting together a feature on Sydney's inner city bikes lanes and wanted to get some idea from cyclists whether they actually use them, particularly the inclosed bike lanes popping up in and around Bourke St.
Love to hear your honest thoughts about these lanes and other around the city, whether they are a good idea/waste of time, etc, what you dislike about the the design, and why you do or don't use them.
Before Womble gets here "inclosed"? Not a word I am familiar with
Can't comment on the Bourke St lane but I can on the King St one. I actually preferred being on the road and never had a problem with aggressive drivers. The arrangement at the lights is not conducive to a clear run up the hill either and many cyclists just ignore the lights. The other problem I've encountered is pedestrians wandering out into the bike lane without looking causing the odd heart stopping moment.
I don't like bike lanes, and try and avoid them, but I like the *concept* of bike lanes and would like to see more of them in the CBD.
1. Some people will not ride on roads due to issues of perceived risk. Bike lanes are of benefit to these cyclists.
2. More bike lanes will hopefully encourage more people to commute by bicycle.
3. Reducing the number of car lanes and parking spots is a Good Thing. LA is an example of a city with more lanes and freeways than any other city, and yet they have massive traffic congestion problems. IMHO the best way to reduce traffic congestion is to discourage people from driving in and out of the CBD and take public transport. Yes, I know this is not an option for all but currently it's still too easy to drive in even when someone doesn't need to.
Sorry, I'll be kind now.
I have not used the one's in the city as I do not work there. However, I commute pretty much every day on the Epping Road path which is a very/the same similar concept of path and has more or less the same problems (except taking away parking, mostly, now that drivers are aware that they should not park on it - they were not allowed to park there before either. Apart from work crews that is, but even they are getting better, anecdotally - may just be me getting used to them) .
The problem is really education. Drivers are not educated to look both ways when they cross a path like this or to look out for cyclists when opening their doors. Most drivers seem to be completely unaware that when they cross a bike/shared/footpath they do not have right of way at all.
An education campaign should be done, but councils cannot afford it (nor should they IMHO). The RTA is only interested in motor vehicles. What Sydney really needs is a unified transport authority like London, but that is a different debate, although, IMHO, is, along with most drivers not really knowing the road rules, the root cause of all transport problems in Sydney.
Pedestrians (and dogs) are also a problem on the paths. This is also an education thing.
Another point to note is that a significant number of cyclists who commute now are "lycra louts" who can cruise along with other traffic (on the whole) and have learned to be aggressive/confident enough to deal with it all. This is really too fast, IMHO, for a path of any design.
The paths are there to encourage new cyclists or for those who are happy cruising along at 10-25km/h or so. This is more than likely why you may not see many "lycra louts" using them. Once routes are actually completed properly and you can get from many As to many Bs without having to be a little dodgy, play with trucks etc you will get more normal people using them - at least that has been the experience of every city that has an extensive and useful bicycle path network.
Finally, can you please point out that nobody drives on roads which go to nowhere or are unfinished so why do "journalists" continually point out that unfinished cycle routes are not being used - apart from sensationalist and dishonest headlines that is? Nobody would be expected to push their car from home to the F3 and then drive it for a short while, jump out push it again, drive it for a bit more etc etc so why cyclists?
I recall there being some talk about dedicated bike corridors which sounded pretty good and a better solution to bike lanes. One was mooted along the goods train line from Summer Hill into the City which has the added benefit of being flat all the way into the bottom of ANZAC Bridge. This would separate cyclists from the cars and remove Lilyfield hill from a commute.
One of the big problems with the bike lanes is the variable speed of cyclists. Speeds can range anywhere from 10 km/h up to 35+ km/h. Narrow, dedicated, bike lanes cunningly located in door zones are not conducive to getting people on the road.
Obviously, the big issue is the cost of implementing said corridors to cater for a small percentage of commuters not to mention co-ordinating several Councils (i.e. herding cats) to participate.
I admire what Clover Moore has started and hope that it does continue.
generally agree with what has been said. What I find about the bike lanes here is that often they still have major deficiencies, for example on the bidirectional lanes on Bourke Rd you have to give way to traffic coming into the T-Junction.
Personally I think this is stupid, it's confusing for drivers and inconvenient for cyclists. If you were cycling in the car lane (which is perfectly legal) you have right of way over anyone turning into the intersection because you are travelling straight, however if you are on the path you have to give way. It's also frustrating to have to start and stop every intersection when cars don't have to.
This implies that should there be an accident that it will generally be the cyclists fault for not giving way - which means I'd be inclined to avoid the path alltogether.
See below for a typical intersection on Bourke Rd.
Dedicated bike corridors that are completely separated from the road sounds like a great idea to me.
The enclosed bike lanes like the one on King street and the one being built on Kent St... I'm not convinced about.
My worry is these types of lanes enforce the mentality of drivers that they own the road and don't have to share it. For those who do choose to legally ride on the road, we'll have to put up with drivers telling us to "get over there in that bike lane"
The danger of hitting pedestrians along the Kent st and King st cycle way is significant. Pedestrians don't understand a cycle lane is still the road and tend to wander over the cycle lane to the edge of the road when they are crossing.
The pedestrian crossing near the westpac building on Kent St is particularly worrying. Hundreds of people pile out of Wynyard station and then start spreading along the road/bike lane waiting for the pedestrian light to change... I can see many cyclists collecting pedestrians in this area...
Personally during peak times riding in Sydney, I feel safer riding in the middle of the lane "like a car" then on the cycle paths...
In QLD road rules, a vehicle turning at any intection must give way (even to ped's crossing the road), therefore the bikes riding in those bike lanes would have right of way. Is this not the same in NSW?
I think the cycleways are an excellent idea and I fully support Clover Moore's vision for the future of the CBD. While I have frustrations with cycleways, non-cyclists need to be encouraged and anything that can be done to improve their safety will reap rewards many many times the investment.
I'm not familiar with the Bourke St route so I'll confine my comments to the sections I have travelled.
In my view as an experienced commuting cyclist, the RTA has very effectively scuppered the King St cycleway by giving priority to motor vehicles at all traffic signals along the route.
If you want to travel quickly you unfortunately have four choices:
1: Ignore the lights and risk a collision, or a fine and possible demerits
2: Ignore the bike lane and incur the ire of motorists who have an entitlement mentality on "their" piece of roadway
3: Give up on the idea of getting up King St quickly and take an alternate route
4: Give up on the idea of getting up King St as quickly as you used to, and just accept that as far as the RTA is concerned you are a second class citizen
I am looking forward to the completion of the Kent St route and the rest of the network.
When all else fails, persistence prevails -- Lew Hollander
You have to give way when entering or exiting a road related area, but not a road.
No specific mention there of the requirement of cars to yield, but none of any requirement of bicycles to yield either. A grey area?
Edit: got it now: Part 2 Division 1 Rule 13 defines cycleways as road-related areas, not roads.
When all else fails, persistence prevails -- Lew Hollander
On Epping Road, the markings on the path indicate that cyclists do not have right of way. Not sure if that actually has any legal status. However, I suspect there are cheeky end of cycle path signs as well.
There are additional rules about giving way to pedestrians when exiting the through road at T intersections, but nothing about cyclists...
http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/fragv ... N?tocnav=y
I think that's the thing though, the way they have treated the intersections with bi-directional bike lanes on Bourke Rd, puts the onus on cyclists for motorist convenience even though in the event of a collision the cyclist will always lose regardless of fault.
It's entirely inconsistent with the way intersections normally work, and makes it work more like riding on the footpath. IMO they should treat the bidirectional bike lane as another lane of traffic like a bus lane.
Also I hate the speed humps that they put in for cars, if they want to slow down traffic they should make the road narrower (and the bike path/footpath wider) as well as introducing other traffic calming devices like zebra crossings and chicanes
hehe, lol. What is also frustrating is that where there is a bus stop it goes around the back, I guess it's the only thing they can do, but god the turns are very tight and you have poor visibility of any oncoming cyclists. I can see accidents happening when they start to get used.
Don't get me wrong though, I think that it is great they are there, it's definitely a step in the right direction, they just need work.
I live in Sydney. Construction along Bourke Street makes the cycleways there unusable IMO. I was in the area of Boronia Lane this past Saturday, and the cycleway is there, but walled off. The remaining road is narrow++, which made on-road riding in that section unfeasible. For now, I use Crown Street to go north and south. The situation is quite fluid though, when I last used Bourke Street, the area south of Taylor Square was under construction.
But the completed areas: e.g. just north of Cleveland Street, and the Woolloomooloo areas look very nice. It would be nice if up-to-date maps were available showing which sections were usable, but I only say that because that area is about a 15 minute ride away, and Iâ€™m not keen on finding out for myself every weekend. I canâ€™t wait for the whole thing to be usable (not counting the Green Square part).
As for Bourke Road in Alexandria, I use that a lot, and like it++. Iâ€™m new here, and donâ€™t know what it was like before.
When I drive (a car) south down Bourke Road towards Sydney Airport, itâ€™s easy to see how turning right into a driveway can be dangerous, since before leaving the car lane Iâ€™d have to look both forwards, and backwards, looking for bicycles. I donâ€™t work there though: just passing through.
Missenden Road/Lyons Road is closer to where I live. I have mixed feelings about the proposed bicycle lane there. Pro: itâ€™ll be separated from traffic, and should attract more people to cycle there. And hopefully alleviate some doorzone danger Con: I really like Missenden Road the way it is, going north and south. The road is wide enough, but the myriad of pedestrian crossings and traffic lights (Carillon & King Street) slow traffic down enough that Iâ€™ve never felt dangerous on a bicycle there. Although, I am actually in danger by being in the doorzone a lot. Iâ€™m not all that involved enough to pay attention to the designs, except that Iâ€™m not too keen on bidirectional cycleways on one side of the road. In my mind, it would be helpful going southwards, since that direction is uphill, while northwards is downhill, and easier to take the car lane.
My other thought about Missenden/Lyons Road, is that it would seem that more attention should be paid to the nearby Pyrmont Bridge Road instead, which seems like a useful route, but I avoid++ because it seems a bit chaotic.
FWIW, BikeSydney has a post about future bicycle path plans:
Russell Crowe had a tweet recently:
Since Cama7 (the thread starter) is a journalist from the Daily Telegraph, maybe he/she can ask Gemma Jones to explain this article from July 2010:
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/n ... 5898703757
1. The Bourke Street cycleway is not supported by the Premier. http://twitter.com/KKeneally/status/18962759219
2. Where did that value $534Mâ€”which is the core of the articleâ€”come from?
3. How old is that 159000 bike trips valueâ€”Iâ€™m guessing itâ€™s 5 years old, from 2005.
4. Sydney City Council has a 2016 target for 10% of trips to be done by bicycle, which is totally different from â€œ2017 target to increase commuting by bike by 10 per centâ€.
All thisâ€¦Â in the first 3 paragraphs. Iâ€™ve never got a reply from Gemma Jones about this.
I use the King Street lane every day.
The timing of the lights makes it a ridiculous piece of infrastructure. The bike light at each intersection turns orange and red before the pedestrian light does the same, despite the fact that bikes clear the intersection earlier. Therefore a typical ride can involve one stopping at each light up and down the hill.
If one looks at the pedestrians, you see that many of them jaywalk and it seems to be accepted, yet it is not accepted by many for cyclists.
The light timing is obviously for the convenience of left-turning car drivers, but they don't appear to only outnumber cyclists very much in the mornings, and in the afternoons there are very few left turners and the cyclists end up facing a red light for left-turning cars that don't exist.
Other than that, the lanes seem to be great. Sure, peds walk across them, but so many cyclists break the rules that it's hard to get annoyed by that in some ways.
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Separated cycleways are a good idea for children, novices, and the nervous cyclists travelling
at maximum speeds below 15kph and happy to average 5 kph slower, and happy to wait forever
while they give way to any traffic at every intersection.
The cycleway implementation in Sydney is flawed. While I'm not a regular user, I have tried the
Bourke St cycleway and King St cycleway.
Traffic light phasing in King St renders the cycleway practically useless - I now avoid it whenever
possible. From the look of its construction, the Kent St cycleway will be no better. While Kent St
is my current preferred route from Pyrmont to the Harbour Bridge, I suspect I'll be using Clarence St in future.
Bourke St is incomplete and difficult to assess it's value until it fully connects the airport
precinct to the CBD. Present construction work will finish at Gardeners Road, and do not
connect to the airport - a major employment hub.
Its construction is also very poor on the Southern section from Gardeners Road - the pavement
has not been resurfaced, and has all the bumps, sunken trenches, manhole covers etc.,. that the
old road shoulder accumulated through its long life.
Worse, on the two occasions I've used it, I've found failure of drivers to look to their left
when crossing the cycle lane a huge risk. The detours around bus-stops, and short sections
where it literally disappears at major intersections (forcing cyclists onto the footpath, see image below)
shows how little respect the designers have for cyclists and puts a cyclist on the cycleway
in a grossly inferior position compared to one who elects to travel on the roadway.
Did anybody mention contending with pedestrians on the cycle lanes ?
A cyclist reaching an intersection is legally obliged to stop and give way to all other traffic
at the intersection (there are signs reinforcing this on the Burke St cycleway, painted on the road
as well as the temp sign erected above to reinforce the obligation).
A cyclist traveling in the traffic lane right next to the cycleway has the advantage of a
right of way over traffic on give-way/stop-signs at intersections, as well as rights of way
over on-coming turning traffic etc.,. and any following traffic.
So the cycleway has stripped cyclists of protections they have if riding on the road lanes, and
I suspect this alone will make the bicycle lanes impractical for most everyday commuters.
There is also a substantial risk of being car-doored while traveling in the bike lane adjacent to
the kerb-side parking. If riding on the road, a cyclist can anticipate a car door opening, and move
further into the adjacent traffic lane. The bi-directional cycleways have no room for this - if there is
any on-coming cycling traffic you have the choice of a head-on with the cyclist or with the car-door.
This underlines the RTA's pre-occupation on meeting motorists needs in preference to
providing a safe environment for cyclists.
Originally, a Local Area Improvement Plan for South Sydney was developed when the Eastern Distributor was built.
It proposed that Bourke St/Bourke Rd would have dedicated uni-directional cycleways to
compensate cyclists for their exclusion from the Eastern Distributor. Previously, those lanes
on Bourke St were jammed with bumper-to-bumper traffic and required clearways to provide
adequate traffic capacity. After construction of the ED, there was an opportunity to use that
previous space to provide a safe alternative for cyclists whilst deterring rat-running motorists
from avoiding the ED. What has been delivered is a half-baked bi-directional cycleway solution
that is well short of this. It focusses more on providing parking and priority for rat-running
motoring traffic on Bourke St.
+1. Even when their contractual arrangements with the operators of the ED was to deter traffic
from using the parallel roads, they still favor the motor vehicles. Go figure.
(edited: 9/9, added url for Local Area traffic plan).
Last edited by wombatK on Thu Sep 09, 2010 6:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
Glad you raised that... the "class action" turned out to be a hoax. It was just one business funding the action, many of the names mentioned by the lawyer were actually supporters or sponsors of the project, and the lawyer is expected to be in quite serious trouble with the NSW Law Society for telling outrageous porkies.
When all else fails, persistence prevails -- Lew Hollander
Totally agree with the posts above. The cycleway implementation is good, but several crucial details stop it from working well. WombatK confirmed my point about having to give way to all other traffic when on the cycleway but not having to when riding on the road - this not only encourages riders not to use the cycleway but causes confusion for drivers and cyclists alike and thus more chance of a collision.
I also used to ride up the King St cycleway, but found the traffic light phasing so unfavourable that I just rode with the cars.
I think it's quite clear that the way they are generally implementing the cycleways is more for motorist convenience rather than providing a serious transport alternative. They need to treat bike lanes as another lane of traffic like a bus lane, right now they are more like glorified footpaths.
geez you guys are harsh - a journo comes on here asking for info etc, & you flame him & expect him to answer for every other journalists output??? sheesh no wonder we get bad press!
the local media whore (aka me) is all over it...
rode King St this morning... PHHHAAARRRRKKK the light phasing is horrific, not to mention the continual hill starts with cleats!
doing Bourke St this arvo at peak hour to get some footage.
I think they are good for getting more of the population onto bikes, especially casual riders who lack the confidence to ride on the road
However as a commuter, they change bicycles from road vehicles into quasi pedestrians which makes intersections much more dangerous.
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