Cycling in Sydney Australia
Following on from my earlier thread about riding in sydney, is there a rule of thumb regarding certain roads in/through sydney for safer riding?
For example - (looking at googlemaps) the dark orange roads (motorways/toll roads) are obviously 'out' in terms of riding on. The yellow roads/streets look to be okay, but what about the lighter orange roads?
Is there a guide in terms of the numbers on them? I've ridden the Pacific Hwy, which has a '3' in a hexagon on it. But in general, should single number roads be avoided?
What about the 'blue shield' roads like Victoria Rd that's numbered '40', or a Dehli Rd/Millswood Ave/Fullers Rd that has a number '29' on it?
Then comes the likes of Cumberland Hwy/Carlingford Rd/Epping Rd that's orange, yet has no number. Would these be more cycle friendly of the main roads (direct routes) that could be used with a bit more 'comfort' than the numbered roads?
If they have numbers they will be main roads. Therefore busy to extremely busy and unpleasant to extremely unpleasant for cycling. Despite that, the hardiest cyclists use them because they have the best gradients and are direct.
The hexagonal numbers indicate "Metroads", longer distance ring roads or radial routes. E.g. Metroad 3 is from Mona Vale to Blakehurst.
The blue numbers are "State roads". The distinction escapes me.
Roads like Carlingford Rd are often two lanes each way which is often worse than the three-lane-each-way ones since motorists expect to travel at or well above the speed limit in the kerbside lanes as well as the inner lanes.
If you want "safer" roads with little traffic, look at the street directory for discontinuous minor streets that you can link up to form a cycle route to your destination. These are often already marked as some form of bicycle route and also often have measures to assist cyclists, and pedestrians, with crossings of major roads. It is almost guaranteed that they will be hillier, less direct and slower but, hey, the ride is what it is all about.
The major roads are often physically divided, and often have long distances with no parking, and they often have 100% controlled intersections, relatively few driveways with extremely good left lane to driveway area vision because of lack of parking spaces.
In practice they can actually be very safe because certain classes of accidents are extremely unlikely.
The big advantage of a back road is that with less traffic around you, you may be able to make certain kinds of mistakes and get away with it, because right at this moment there is no-one to hit you. However drivers tend to let their guards down, and make a lot of mistakes on those roads too. blowing through give way signs, pull out of driveways without looking (from behind parked cars), u-turns without indicating from far edge of road etc.
ie: a casual rider who makes mistakes is benefited a lot by a low interaction rate, a fast commuter who makes few if any mistakes is benefited by the road design limiting driver mistakes, and by the oncoming traffic only having limited opportunities to cross your path, and often only under formal intersection control with turning arrows and the like.