Cycling in Sydney Australia
I'm Steph one of the cycling parents from Fort St public school on Observatory Hill in the city.
Anyone who's ever ridden past- especially between 08:30-09:10 am - knows how manifestly inadequate the infrastructure in the area is. The school has doubled enrolments in two years, cyclists have doubled in numbers in recent years too- but there's no signage to warn cyclists of small people ahead, multiple blind spots, no lighting, no separated cycleway and a very long etc. The area is dangerous because of poor infrastructure- but everyone using the area has a right and a need to be on the hill and all our numbers are growing.
We are trying to pressure the government into making positive changes and have had amazing support from the cycling community so far- especially from EasyRiders who have put a lot of time and effort into helping us; but also from BikeSydney and BicyclesNSW. I've never spoken to anyone in the cycling community who hasn't been supportive.
I was hoping that some of the sydneycyclist members may have time to help us out a little?
The petition may be unusable if it's too small to convince the cycling naysayers that the infrastructure is worthwhile so we could really use some help there. I've gone around the whole school with my clipboard for the print petition but we are a small school :) The last thing we want is for someone in government to think "not a big problem- just make everyone dismount and walk through"- because that would be a manifestly foolish solution for everyone. O.o
We will also be hanging out near the sharethepath team set up (who have been very supportive and helpful) next week when they visit Obervatory Hill, so if anyone would like to drop in and sign our print petition we'd love to meet you.
Thanks so much for listening!
I've signed the online petition. I used to ride through there ten times a day twenty years ago. It was dodgy then, nothing has been done to improve it in all that time.
SIgnature added Steph.
shared and signed
good stuff Steph
Thanks so much everyone, we really appreciate the way the cycling community is doing its level best to look out for the kids up there.
At around 08:55 this morning it was like this. Cyclists are having to pick their way around reversing SUVs because there's simply no other option... and the SUVs have to be in that stupidly small space because no one in their right mind lets their five year old wander out in to that red hot mess without so much as a footpath. I'm going to print the bikesydney visual from here and pass it around the school at pickup time this afternoon. It's like it's another universe where everything is perfect, LOL.
+1 - Petition lost me when the petitioner started talking SUV's. Sorry but I just don't believe in the school run thing thats become endemic in Sydney.
That is the essential madness of the motorist condition.
The sad reality is that around 80 people in australia per year are killed offroad by cars, in driveways and the like, mostly children and its kept off the road toll, so its a very hard statistic for planners to be aware of. The cyclists are not actually the major structural risk in the area, being reversed over, pedestrian, adult, child or cyclist is the risk. There are usually 2 or 3 children killed per year by motorists at or near school entrances too, and there is at least one fort st parent that has no qualms whatsover about driving on the footpath if there is oncoming traffic.
ie there seems to be almost total blindless to the real and present danger there.
Yes, the number of cars in the confined space is the major source of danger at that particular point at Fort Street- cyclists and pedestrians are the (very) vulnerable users in that space.
Part of what we are asking from the council/RMS/NSW Transport is to fix that area to the point where there is an adequate drop off provision *and* a safe place for cyclists to ride. Cyclists aren't the "problem". They never have been.
And yes, there are parents I'd like to think twice before doing some of the things they do with their cars. This IS part of the issue and is something the P and C are actively working on. The issue isn't with one mode of transport or another, it's with the lack of appropriate infrastructure for *any* of the modes of transport in use up there.
Unfortunately there are some people who do believe "cyclists dismount" would be a simple solution. But as everyone here knows requiring 2000 commuters to dismount a day would be (a) stupid and (b) totally unsuccessful.
We have a lot of families out of area, e.g. where driving or public transport are the only option. So we as a school (granted, not as a cycling community necessarily) need to accept that until public transport/cycling is appropriately supported across the city, cars are part of picture.
But as to the broader issue of a culture where the majority of kids are being dropped off in four wheels at the school gate ... I ride three kids to school every day. So I understand completely what you're saying. I drive in occasionally but... ugghhh. Much prefer to ride. Much better for the kids to be able to get out and scoot where it's safe as well. We are a cycling family, it's our main form of transport. If I could convince half the *local* parents to ride their kids to school half our problem (at least as pertains to vehicles, but not as it pertains to inadequate infrastructure for cyclists) would be solved. There are some parents/kids riding. I hope it increases. Certainly as someone cycling with very small children regularly I've felt very supported by other cyclists. (Even though I am reeeaaallly slow!)
If you'd like to hear more about what we are asking for/trying to achieve specifically around vehicular changes/changes in culture/infrastructure improvements I'd be happy to talk about it, but I've been trying to keep my posts relevant to cyclists in the area.
Steph, the reason I find the whole situation faintly ridiculous, is because there is a roundabout outside the observatory, and it would be more than possible to arrange such that drop offs occurred along that street, which would put children getting out of the passenger side on the block that is also the school block, and not needing to use the roadway at all. Could put in a wider bridge, but without much car traffic next to the fan block it probably doesn't matter if the kids don't fit perfectly anyway.
I have no doubt if I was to go up there and audit the traffic, that the location the parents are trying to use to turn around has a maximum flow rate of about 60 vehicles an hour because it takes 30 seconds to disembark kids given the traffic shambles and 30 seconds to turn around and get out of each others way.
Disallowing parents to cross the bridge, and making them term around using the roundabout and having the clear position and side to disembark, and overlap of disembarks, would probably triple the actual vehicle capacity. Right now its grass, but there is no reason a path can't be laid there (tripling the vehicle capacity would have the effect of making the traffic "go away").
As usual car drivers try to make things so convenient for themselves that they make it less convenient for themselves.
Ridiculous somes up the situation, in my opinion. Parents have tried to use that area as a drop off point in the recent past for all the logical reasons you state (at least for the older kids who are perfectly capable of avoiding the 'red hot mess" and accessing the school gate via the back way and the National Trust carpark)- but they've been booked by rangers because it's a clearway.
A proposal I'd like to put forward (I'm writing the P and C's submission tonight actually) is the one suggested by David from bikesydney- designate that area as an appropriate drop off point so cars can come in, drop and depart. It's not going to have a great flow rate, but it keeps cars from reversing into the oncoming path of cyclists and frees up the space in front of the school for pedestrians, cyclists etc. Ideally we'd need a small footbridge over the expressway so we can use it for all age students and not send the little ones through the carpark and out of sight.
I completely agree with the points put forward by a lot of community members here that ignoring the role that cars play in this area is ignoring a large part of the issue.
I've signed the petition as something does need to be done there. I am also glad that the petition is to improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists rather than just trying to ban one or the other.
Sadly though, the cynic in me believes that the the solution the council will come up for in the area will probably just be a "Cyclists Dismount" sign.