Cycling in Sydney Australia
Bike Marrickville, Bike Leichhardt and ASHBUG have formed the Inner West Bicycle Coalition to present a more unified voice to the recently amalgamated Inner West Council and other authorities like Urban Growth and Westconnex. We are retaining our individual structures for the time being, but will endeavour to cooperate on the bigger issues through the Coalition, which will have a coordinator and input from the three groups.
Early days, and we don't presume to be the only cycling groups in the Inner West, so looking to join forces with others, including people or groups in Canada Bay, Burwood and maybe Canterbury. If interested let me know on email@example.com.
Better still, join one of the three groups above and get in on the action.
(Edit, I added Lilyfield Rd to the title, since that is the first matter we are looking at).
With lane widths reduced to 2.9m, cyclists not in the cycleway will really get in the way.
After the State Government spends all that money, betcha that every motorist calls out "get over into the bike path" as they overtake and one day the State Government extends the "Bike Lane" compulsory use requirement to all bike facilities.
Yes, take the lane and get in the way.
The calling out is a certainty.
Making the use of off-road cycling facilities compulsory is problematic.
These cycling facilities will not be off-road but on-road or in a "road related area".
The DT has expressed surprise that "cyclists who refuse to ride in designated cycleways and instead ride on the road will get just a $67 fine." (DT of 19/9/2013)
Riding a bicycle furiously in NSW merits a fine of 20 penalty units. They can and do proscribe anything they like.
While I have seen the on-line guff I haven't seen the design.
The compulsion to use a cycleway applies only to on-road, and then only where it carries the correct signage.
So the questions to answer would be:
(1) where does the design feature an on-road facility?
(2) is the design in those locations, if they will exist, good enough to tolerate using them?
I would not sweat fines too much. I choose not to participate in that myself, and only have a big concern about their application to vulnerable people. Their rego and Photo ID stiffies went floppity.
True. The compulsion applies to using a "Bicycle Lane" in the direction of normal traffic flow and which has to have a Bicycle Lane sign at the beginning, continuation lines at side roads and a Bicycle Lane End sign at the end.
However, the DT quote shows how easily the press and subsequently the public and politicians in power can make the extension to all cycleways.
You may not be worried by a fine of a few hundred dollars but remember that an insurance company may sue you for tens or hundreds of thousands after an accident where you are seen as being in the wrong.
Would you believe that the Daily Telegraph is wrong?
I again direct people to this thread: http://www.sydneycyclist.com/forum/topics/what-is-a-bike-lane
Some of the pictures are now dead, I will replace them. now
So, Bill, you will not be required to use the cycleways on Lilyfield Rd or on Wilson St. You don't have to downgrade to "novice level" routes if you don't want to.
It is great that you feel confident enough not to need this infrastructure. As you say, hundreds of others like you don't need it either. how about the thousands of others who do not? If we design bike infrastructure for you and the people already confidently riding on the road rather than those thousands of others who wouldn't even consider riding that route yet then we will not see rates of cycling increase. It's really that bloody simple. If we have bike advocates arguing against this infrastructure we will be shooting ourselves in the foot. Or the face. We will simply never see numbers increase, we will never normalise transport cycling, we will continue to see the needs of people who ride neglected because the numbers don't justify the interest or concern.
These are not backwards steps in any way, "putting cycling back 40 years" is frankly rhetorical nonsense. The only reason cycling levels increased in the last few years was when infrastructure started to go in. They have stalled while we have lost infrastructure and have seen no new construction. These cycleways are are a much needed forward step into creating key regional off-street cycling routes that will make riding them an option for everyone from kids to grandparents and that is what we need to see numbers grow again.
Think beyond your own personal needs, please.
Bob, I know the design isn't perfect, I've been at public meetings and made submissions through the process so far too and I hope these will be addressed as we see completed designs. I have no problem with people making these kinds of criticisms, I encourage it.
The issue (on Lilyfield Rd and on Wilson St too) is not that people are looking to improve the design. It is that people, including people within advocacy organisations, are questioning the need or desirability for a cycleway on these routes at all. If riders themselves aren't supporting the infrastructure it makes it hard for councils to stand up to the protests that always come from other interested parties (read: people who are losing car parking spaces).
Last year I was at a seminar presented by Niels Hoe from the Cycling Embassy of Denmark. He had just arrived in Sydney, had a look at the infrastructure that had been build and his message was that this was the first generation, that things would become outdated, that capacity would be stretched, that we can't expect the solutions we need today to stand for all time. I think that is a useful perspective to take. We can have a vision of what we want Sydney streets to look like, bike boulevards, shared spaces that are safe for all to use. The fact of the matter is that we aren't there yet by any stretch, we are still in the infancy of a connected cycleway network in Sydney and the priority right now has to be all about creating the kind of infrastructure that is going to convert non-riders in to riders. It is only if we can get more people riding that we are ever going to get to those kinds of end visions. Maybe we even end up removing cycleways on streets like Wilson St or Lilyfield Rd in the future when we get to that point. That won't make the infrastructure a waste of money now, though - we won't get to that end without the increased participation these cycleways will provide.
Ultimately, though, It is better to have imperfect infrastructure on these routes than no infrastructure because even imperfect infrastructure will bring in more riders. Let's try to get the best infrastructure we can, but not at the expense of causing the projects to collapse completely.
When Lilyfield Road lost most of its traffic when the last stage of the CWL opened in December 2000, there were no bicycle facilities yet cyclist numbers built up to make it the major route it is today. Similarly the north-south Greenway route has built up in spite of the fact that almost all of it is still on local streets with no more than a line on a map to show its existence. (However today's Lilyfield Road has carefully positioned Bike Lanes up hill on all but one up hill section, due to the work of Bike Leichhardt's Bob Moore)
You attribute all the growth in bicycle use to the provision of cycleways and none to publicity or the other forces encouraging bike use like traffic congestion and fuel prices. In fact you can match reduced rates of bike use increase to a period of low fuel prices as much to low cycleway building.
Why ruin a good commuter route along Lilyfield Road when three alternative routes exist, namely the Bay Run to the north and the Goods Railway Corridor and Allen St/Hill St/Whites Creek to the south? You won't see kids and grandparents challenging the Lilyfield Road hills but you might see them on those other routes.
The building of cycleways faces two challenges on our innercity roads: Firstly, that the roads are only 12.8m wide and traffic lanes must be 3.2m (a requirement for buses) and parking lanes 2.1m. Secondly, that without a decent railway system, each family needs perhaps two or three cars or more and so street parking is at a premium.
The solution that Bike Leichhardt has implemented is to run uni-directional Bike Lanes up hill and to join the traffic lane downhill. This works in the Leichhardt Council area because of the steep terrain and because roads intersect at the top of ridges which provides a No Stopping region to allow a smooth transition of the road centre line which is necessary to accommodate the Bike Lane up hill.
Bill, I do a lot of work with the City of Sydney promoting cycling. They have done a lot of research into the barrier that people face and what would get them to change behaviour - infrastructure is key. The increases in areas surrounding the CBD, inner east, west and north, owe a lot to what has been done in the City. The cycling numbers on Lilyfield Rd didn't really boom until that infrastructure was built - it didn't happen 15 years ago, it started 5 years ago.
Families in the inner west do not need two or three cars. Bus, train and light rail options all exist, but more importantly it is the area of low-hanging fruit when it comes to converting people to riding a bicycle, largely due to the infrastructure that does already exist from the eastern end of Lilyfield Rd and in to the CBD. The way to boost those numbers is to build on that infrastructure, to provide people further west with as close to a door to door, home to work, cycle route as possible
As I said, the design is not perfect. I made the same submission about the western most section of the proposed cycleway, I think a bidirectional cycleway on that hill is problematic. The solution to that problem is not to scrap the entire cycleway, which appears to be what you are agitating for, both on Lilyfield Rd and on Wilson St. If neither cycleway gets built it will not be a positive outcome for cycling promotion, it will be a major missed opportunity at a time when we are in dire need of expansion of the network because growth has stalled.
Your definition of a "good commuter route" is a reflection of your confidence and ability. The idea is to create a good commuter route for someone with much lower confidence and fitness. A route that involves some inclines and sharing the road with motor vehicles, including large ones such as buses, is not a good commuter route - when riders are going to be moving slower than motor vehicles then separation makes a lot of sense, particularly in the mind of a new rider.
It is the new rider we need to consider. I don't go around arguing for the infrastructure that I need personally. I'm lucky enough to be fit and confident enough not to need any infrastructure to get around Sydney. Instead I fight for the infrastructure needed by the people who aren't riding yet. I work with these people every week, I talk to them about their concerns and fears and what they need to feel more confident, about what would make them feel like they could use a bicycle for transport in Sydney. Separated infrastructure is what they want.
Every other system in the world gets optimized. Except for NSW cycleways. Why can't we finally get anyone associated with the process to understand that bi-di over a bunch of intersections and driveways and getting cut off and stopped forever is a BAD EXPERIENCE FOR CASUAL RIDERS THAT LEADS THEM TO REMAIN COMPLETELY CASUAL AND DOES NOT CONVERT THEM TO RIDING TO WORK DAILY.
Casual riders have an energy and time limited range. Forcing them to brake all the time. Forcing them to stop at the bottom of every hill. Forcing them to not allow the bicycle to roll, forcing them to use energy to put the bike back into motion again, forcing them to climb hills when the arterial road is straight and flat, forcing them ride bizarre long squares because the cycleway is only on 3 of 20 roads, forcing them to stop for motorists that aren't even there, all of those things REDUCE THE RANGE OF A CASUAL CYCLIST, and reducing their range, REDUCES THE POPULATION THAT LIVES WITHIN SUFFICIENT DISTANCE OF THE CYCLEWAY TO USE IT.
I am personally rather tired of being told that my needs are not the needs of casual riders. They are exactly the same needs. I'm tired of being stopped all the time, I'm tired of wasting all my energy when riding, I'm tired of being made needlessly sweaty, and I'm tired of the infrastructure conspiring to make it slower than walking, and I'm tired of my cycling range being reduced by terrible infrastructure.
Jason, this is a return to the perennial struggle between CoS and the State Government.
The problem you identify is not with bi-directional cycleways per se. It is with the limitations on their implementation imposed by RMS stubbornness. Yes, it is frustrating, yes, it could be done so much better. But...
Despite that, though, there is evidence that we have been converting people with the infrastructure.
With a properly connected network, with proper light phasing, things that the rest of the world seems quite capable of implementing, we would be doing a lot better, I don't deny it. But does that mean we just build nothing unless we can build it perfectly?
I am as frustrated as anyone. Actually, after the amount of time and effort I have put in to cycling advocacy (for me it is basically a seven day a week job) I would say I am more frustrated than most. I'm moving to Berlin next year largely as a result of being sick of the state of this city that has sucked in so much of my energy and yet seems to give me back nothing but disappointment (anti cycling fines, digging up College St, undermining the construction of the rest of the network, West Connex, council amalgamations, casinos on what should be public land, lock out laws...). There are serious limitations on what we can achieve while we have this resistance at state level and it is hard to see that changing too dramatically very soon.
At this point we need to build what infrastructure we can. We need to fight to get it as good as we can within the constraints we face. For all that people, myself included, complain about the limits of the system we have, things are better than they were five years ago. There are spaces where riders can move around with full separation from motor vehicles and it has doubled the number of riders in the city.
If there was no infrastructure we wouldn't have had that growth. If we don't build more infrastructure, for all its flaws, we won't have more growth. That's the sad reality of the situation at the moment