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 riderâ€™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 donâ€™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 cyclistsâ€™ reputation. You wouldnâ€™t expect a 16 year old to get behind the wheel of a car without the correct training, and I donâ€™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 peopleâ€™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.