Police issuing official warnings for riding on footpath at The Hub, Newtown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beware my sister was issued with an 'official' warning for riding on the pedestrianised area of The Hub in Newtown this morning. Now this is a popular and safe way to get from or to Bedford St from Wilson St or Australia St for cyclists and really should become a shared path, especially given there are a row of bike racks smack bang in the middle and it is a large and wide area.

Apparently pedestrians are being ‘hit.’ Though I have seen cyclists be less than overly careful around people here I don’t regularly see dangerous behaviour but perhaps those of us travelling in this section can be extra mindful of not scaring anyone into making an over exaggerated complaint to the authorities resulting in police being stationed at The Hub to ‘warn’ cyclists coming through!

 

(The fact that my sister arrived to her work and found a pedestrian had been hit by a van put things in perspective).

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I have to disagree with some of what you say there, Rob.

 

It should be absolutely expected that where different modes of transport are sharing the same space people should take responsibility and care. As cyclists we absolutely demand this of motorists on the roads; whilst paths and separated facilities might be more comfortable, convenient and faster for all, where no such facilities exist then sharing the space has to happen, and motorists absolutely have a responsibility to ensure the safety of cyclists by driving appropriately around them.

Few cyclists I think would disagree with that, so why is it then when the analogous situation with peds and cyclists is presented, some cyclists get an antsy because they want to go faster, and start demanding that pedestrians are kept off parts of the path? It sounds suspiciously like the same mind set that makes motorists demand cyclists get off the main roads to me.

Some form of separated cycleway which allows cyclists to ride across Pyrmont Bridge faster might be convenient, but the lack of one does not in any way remove the responsibility for cyclists to ensure they behave appropriately around pedestrians.

When you are a pedestrian, even fairly slow bicycles can be quite intimidating when they whoosh past close to you. The fact that, as you cycle past, you are in control and feel safe is not the point - most car drivers will tell you they are good enough drivers to be safe when they pass you on their bike with inches to spare. What is important is how the pedestrian feels; if they feel intimidated and unsafe, then as the cyclist you are not behaving appropriately.

Finally, a painted-on lane on Pyrmont Bridge would be an absolute disaster. There is no way in the world if would stop peds walking in it; there are lots of tourists, people wanting to cross from one side to the other, taking photos etc; to expect them to watch out for some green paint on the path is as unrealistic as expecting cyclists to wait for the five seconds of green per phase on King Street. However, such a lane would give cyclists a sense of 'entitlement' that they should be able to go fast, and it is the peds fault if they get in the way. (It's the same sense of entitlement that makes car drivers drive too fast on residential streets.) You'd also get queues of faster cyclists stuck behind a slower one, and swerve out of the lane to overtake - all of which would increase the risk of cyclist / pedestrian conflict, not reduce it. No, a painted-on lane on that bridge would be a disaster.

To be sure, if all my cycling was in such pedestrian precincts, then it would be pretty frustrating and not much fun. But one small stretch that is still quicker than going around on the road? I think I can manage to slow right down, sit up and take it easy for a few minutes; mindful that a pedestrian might swerve in front of me at any moment and that I need to give them plenty of room. To do otherwise would make me a hypocrite when I call for the same courtesy from motorists.

(It's worth saying that a few years ago, my views on this were less well developed, and I too thought a green lane on Pyrmont Bridge would be useful. However, I subsequently got rather interested in the human behavior and psychology of road safety, and came to realise that engineering measures are rarely effective at improving safety. This is because what you actually need to do is change human behavior such that the risk is reduced; engineering controls tend to deliver a retrograde change in behavior that increases the risk; thus negating the benefit of the controls.)

Hey Dan :)

 

I certainly don't believe that the lack of a current separated section for cyclists over the bridge does anything to minimise the responsibility of cyclists to ride respectfully and carefully over the bridge, and I don't want cyclists to feel like that responsibility any less than they currently do. I definitely agree that if we want respect from motorists and pedestrians we have to return that respect.

 

I don't think this is just an issue of cycling efficiency -  it is a safety issue for pedestrians too. It is my opinion that the current situation on the bridge is not efficient nor particularly safe, even with cyclists riding responsibly. The reason for that is because, as you pointed out, the nature of pedestrian movement over the bridge is not steady and regular. Cyclists over the bridge are basically all making a steady trip from A to B. With a green strip across the bridge you can focus cyclists into a single channel to make that direct trip. The rest of the bridge would remain for pedestrians to meander, stop, smell the roses and take their holiday snaps. It would recognise that in many ways pedestrians and cyclists are looking to use the space differently, and in ways which don't really lend to sharing.

 

I understand your concerns about how well it would work. You have more experience than me! I do think that pedestrians would learn to avoid the strip - I feel like they have noticeably learnt on Kent St over the last few months. As for cyclists getting a greater sense of entitlement, going faster and overtaking... I know from my perspective I would just feel more comfortable that I would have to worry less about pedestrians, but you are better placed to offer an opinion about more general reactions.

 

In the end, I think the fact that cyclists and pedestrians are looking to use the space differently is reason enough to consider some sort of separation. Pedestrians should be confident that the can safely use the Bridge as the wish but, as the Bridge also forms part of a commuting route in the city's cycling plan, I think cyclists are entitled to desire to use the Bridge as part of an efficient path into the city as well .I do think we need to think of something to change the status quo to allow the desires of both pedestrians and cyclists to be met as best the can.

as dan wrote, co-existing safely is all about psychology.

That is key to bettering the status quo.


As an aside, just back from box day cbd shopping. It seemed mental not to exclude motor traffic where ped masses spilled on to road, however it seemed to work ok.

Hi Rob.

 

Apologies if my tone was a little off there; this is a topic I've written about before and one of my faults is that I can be a bit terse when going over stuff again - although that's not really fair, as it's often a new subject for new participants each time. (and I certainly don't want to upset someone who might be about to buy my wife...)

 

I agree that completely separated infrastructure for bikes and peds would be more efficient - fully separated infrastructure such as a new bridge for cyclists would be great. (As an aside, I actually doubt it would be safer).

 

I'm wary of partially separated infrastructure, though. As Martin and Colin's exchange shows such things often don't work as planned and quickly escalate into a kind of arms race which does nothing for safety or convenience.

Nicely written.Some people ride their bikes like they drive their cars
-there is only them and everybody else is just getting in their
way.Hoping on a bike does not magically change ones behaviour.You see
that selfish behaviour in pedestrians ,cyclists and car drivers.The
situation is worse with car drivers with this personality as they are
effectively driving around in their loungeroom or kitchen :>
Line the cycleway with planter boxes. Provide a gap every 20 metres or so for pedestrians to cross. You could even make the cycleway 20cm higher than the surrounding surface to further differentiate it.

Hmm, and some chicanes & curves to slow everyone down.

 

I bet short people would use the elevation to take photos. So maybe elevate the peds and sink the bicycles. Ugh maybe winos will hide in there and piddle in the planters.

Nicely written.Some people ride their bikes like they drive their cars -there is only them and everybody else is just getting in their way.Hoping on a bike does not magically change ones behaviour.You see that selfish behaviour in pedestrians ,cyclists and car drivers.The situation is worse with car drivers with this personality as they are effectively driving around in their loungeroom or kitchen :>

drivers ... are effectively driving around in their loungeroom or kitchen

Yes. This is particularly the case with RV drivers.

There is a tale of the man who tried to sue the Winnebago company because his RV crashed after he activated cruise control and went to the back to get a cup of coffee from the kitchen.

;-)

I wonder if they'd be bothering if the police station was a bit more than 20m away? Maybe an off-duty officer had a near miss earlier on their way to work?

I bet this is what happened. I got fined (driving) for not giving way to a cop car at a roundabout a couple of years ago and they were apoplectic at my seeming disrespect to them. My explanation that I just hadn't seen them was totally unacceptable. I must say I've never been stopped in my near-daily helmetless riding past Redfern poliice station.

Police as a general rule should grow up. Too many youngsters thinking they have some special rights after a paltry 8 month course .. but I think this belongs on another forum.

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