Cycling in Sydney Australia
Another win for the bicycle as a more reliable means of transport than the car in Sydney...
As you may be aware, Epping Rd and the Gore Hill Freeway were thrown into chaos on the afternoon of 27th Feb as a result of an unfortunately fatal car-truck accident. The evening rush hour on the north shore area was chaotic with motorists and bus users delayed for several hours. Several of my work colleagues, travelling by car, spent 2 hours just to reach the M2, only 1km away.
Whenever these events occur it is only pedestrians and cyclists who are able to make progress. Bus users are stuffed because the NSW Gov has instructed the RTA to open the “Bus Only” and Transit lanes to private car drivers to appease the NRMA and the radio shock-jocks. Common-sense says this is the wrong approach: you’ll get more people voting to use public transport if they know that buses will consistently offer a faster and more reliable journey - especially in a crisis.
As it happened, I unexpectedly had to get home in a hurry so I would have been stuffed if I had driven to work (I would have had to walk home, taking at least an hour).
Cyclists are like Transformers: they can dismount and become pedestrians, then remount to regain their bike advantage, however, a motorist is tied to their vehicle.
I have suggested to my work colleagues that they carry a bike in their car, park outside the usual congestion zone, and then cycle the rest of the way in to work. Who knows, they might enjoy it so much they cut the car out completely.
People incorrectly associate car ownership with reliability and independence, but this is not always true. They are not considering that as a motorist they are dependent on many factors: traffic lights malfunctioning or dead because of a power cut; trucks spilling their goods; trucks jack-knifing; trucks overturning; truck/car breakdowns (when did a bicycle with a puncture ever block anyone else?!); tidal flow in-road lighting systems failures; tidal flow mechanised median barrier failures; etc. With so many people wanting that superficial sense of freedom and reliability the car has become its own worst enemy because now everyone wants to drive their car to work. Even if an alternate route exists it will be blocked because every other motorist will have had the same idea.
And trains and buses can have their own problems. Now if we could only get the car assistance companies to offer a bicycle repair/rescue service then risk-averse people considering becoming cyclists might be encouraged to make the transition, reducing the congestion for those people who do need to drive to work.
I was disgusted to hear on the radio that public transport (i.e. buses) was to be hamstrung by allowing the single-occupant congestion boxes to use buses' oh-so-limited road space.
I guess though that it wouldn't make too much difference in some places because bus lanes often suffer the same problem as exclusive cycleways -- they just end for no reason and start again somewhere else.
Can't offend motorists though. I mean, they vote. Public transport users obviously don't. ;-)
Pacific Hwy was also gridlocked. So many impatient mo-ron-torists seem to think it essential to get across blocked intersections before the lights change despite the fact that the cars on the other side aren't going anywhere and still won't have moved after an entire light phase.
On my way home yesterday afternoon at 4pm, the Pacific Hwy was back from Lane Cove all the way to Gore Hill (it may have gone further, but I turn off at Lane Cove). Epping Rd (City Bound) was a parking lot all the way back to Marsfield. Depsite hearing that the bus lane was open to cars, I observed that most cars were not using it. It didn't matter anyway, as a long line of buses were queued up with nowhere to go.
I was a bit naughty in that I jumped up onto the footpath to get from the North Sydney Tafe at Gore Hill down to where the T3 lane starts. I was then able to scoot down the T3 lane all the way to Lane Cove, whilst stuck motorists had to sit still and deal with my smugness :-)
I imagine that by peak hour the traffic was much worse. Perhaps this is when they decided to open the bus lanes to everyone.
It was a fun ride home.
I'm out of practice, I forgot you can embed images ... for those who enjoy some shadenfreude:
Queuing to leave the car park (the end of queue is somewhere deep underground).
Mayhem: a single lane roundabout becomes a 3-lane carpark.
Sports cars going nowhere fast.
Images? Aren't they movies?
I think that you can almost see my car in that last photo. I might be in the car with the lights on behind the black car across from the bus. That bus did not move for at least 5 phases of the lights at which point i gave up and turned left.
I find that whenever I ride there is no traffic and whenever I drive there is terrible traffic.
Cyclists are like Transformers
Pedestrians in disguise
Depends if a motorist is judging!
People incorrectly associate car ownership with reliability and independence, but this is not always true.
Victims of their own success, perhaps?
Which Transformer are you, incidentally, Neil? :-)
I was wondering why Pacific Highway was backed up past St Leonards, never seen it that bad. I got to work on my balance as I filtered through 500m of traffic to get to my street. Was very satisfying leaving those cars behind.
I wiped the smug grin off my face when I came to my senses and realised that...
1) Someone died
2) In a few months I will have to drive most days despite actually preferring to ride
3) If I will have to, maybe a lot of people stuck in the traffic don't really want to drive either, but have limited choices of how to get to work (like I do)
Conclusion: Need better and more PT.