Pyrmont: Turning left from Miller Street into Harris Street on the green bike lantern...

... is running a red light


My take: there's a red General Traffic lantern there protecting the pedestrian crossing. If you turn left when that is red, you're going through pedestrian traffic and in contravention. In essence, the green bike lantern only controls straight-ahead bike traffic into Union Street, and left or right turning bike traffic should wait for the general green.

The sequence is, for those who need a reminder:

  • All Red
  • Red General traffic, Green Bike, Green pedestrian
  • Red bike, Red pedestrian, Green left and right arrows for general
  • Back to Red, repeat

Two observations.

  • The fact that this light has enough ambiguity to even be asking this question means that the junction is a failure. Nice work RMS.
  • Given the ambiguity, conflict between different modes is inevitable (as with the garbage truck driver who accused me of running a red at the same junction some months back and laid a punishment pass on me for my trouble)


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The question the RMS need to answer is "what does a green bike lantern mean?"

It's not clear at all. At the corner of Bourke St and Albion St the green bike lantern phase is separate from the parallel car traffic, allowing riders to turn eastward into Albion with no conflict. Yet 100 metres away at the intersection with Foveaux, the green bike lantern phase conflicts with the parallel car traffic for riders turning eastward onto the shared path. In each case the green bike lantern means something quite different.

As for bike lanterns conflicting with pedestrian green lights, I imagine the RMS engineers think there is no real conflict there as they can all just swerve around each other, which is true for all but the busiest intersections.

Incidentally I've been told by an RMS traffic engineer that I should ignore a particular traffic light on Cowper Wharf Rd (a regular one, not a bike lantern) because "you're a bike not a vehicle". I asked how I should determine which traffic lights I should ignore and which I should obey, and he got quite stroppy and kept repeating "but you're a bike!". 

They're clearly a long way from understanding the reality of cycling on the streets.

Rule 15b: What is a vehicle

"vehicle" includes:

(a) a motor vehicletrailer and tram, and
(b) a bicycle, and
(c) an animal-drawn vehicle, and an animal that is being ridden or drawing a vehicle, and
(d) a combination, and
(e) a motorised wheelchair that can travel at over 10 kilometres per hour (on level ground),

but does not include another kind of wheelchair, a train, or a wheeled recreational device or wheeled toy.

The RMS engineer was factually wrong

One interesting take from that. Motorised wheelchairs that go over 10km/h (so pretty much every motorised wheelchair including the one my partner uses) are vehicles. 

That should mean they're not allowed to use the footpath. And can't go over pedestrian crossings. And so on.

These rules are a fecking mess.

Oh sure. And I told him the time. Still, he was adamant that a regular green-turn arrow should be ignored by people on bikes, and seemed quite confused by the simple existence of people riding bikes on the road and attempting to obey traffic lights. The concept seemed altogether new to him.

From our everyday experience on Sydney roads it's obvious that the RMS is either ignorant of, or hostile to, cycling, but that one conversation was nevertheless quite eye-opening.

Green Bike means you can go straight ahead or left or right, just have to give way to any pedestrians,if turning, on the Harris St crossings, I'd say, and to cyclists exiting from Union St.

More of a worry is that motor vehicles are allowed to turn left ( by virtue of there being nothing to say they can't) into Union off Harris and there isn't any indication to cyclists heading west up Union that a car could suddenly turn into that section. The only clue is a One Way sign near the corner of Harris I think. Motorists coming up Miller can't enter Union, so why are cars allowed to turn left?

Green Bike means you can go straight ahead or left or right, just have to give way to any pedestrians...

But at Bourke and Foveaux turning eastward from Bourke into Fitzroy on the green lantern gets you run over by the Bourke St cars. 

One of the disbenefits of bi dis or separate paths. Miller St is at least "normal", with on road lanes. And it is a T junction for cars so don't have that worry.

In the case of Bourke at Foveaux, green bike light means you can go straight ahead, or turn left or right, just have to give way to pedestrians...and cars on Bourke, since you are entering a road from a path. Same applies at Albion, but by some fortunate coincidence there are no cars at that time. Maybe it should be made clear by a sign to Give Way when turning.

There appears to be a lack of a right turn bike light at Kent into King, if heading west. What is supposed to happen there? Just duck across when you can?

It is plainly odd that Sydney is striving ahead with so many of these bidirectional paths next to the raodway.   Most of the evidence overseas is that these are not ideal and are more dangerous than non bidirectional paths.

Having separate signalling further complicates things.  And lets not forget the number of footpaths that have been made shared paths.

Whatever is "supposed to happen" the safest option is to perform a hook turn-like manoeuvre at both locations - use the green on King to get yourself up to the Kent St cycleway and position yourself so that when the light changes for bikes heading south on Kent you can proceed. At Bourke and Foveaux you cross Foveaux with the green on Bourke and then set up to cross on to the shared path along Fitzroy St (the road is one way, so you aren't turning on to Fitrzoy St itself) at the next light change.

I meant when you are on Kent heading south on the cycle path and want to turn right into King st cycle path from the right turn lane provided for cyclists. No right turn arrow, so you don't know if motor traffic heading north on Kent has a green or not, or at least I didn't, just hoped the cars on Kent facing me had a red and weren't about to take off. Maybe I missed something, since I am an infrequent user, usually I go via Erskineville and Sussex - out of long habit, or Hickson Rd to avoid the bidi.
In that case the green lantern gives you priority to make a right turn. At other places the green lantern doesn't give you such priority.

There's no way to know what sort of green lantern you have in front of you until it's too late.

Surely you can't turn eastward into Fitzroy? You mean Albion, right?


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