Cycling infrastructure needed: dead cyclists not

Interesting story on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald today about the Harbourlink proposal - building a pedestrian / cycle path from the Bridge to St Leonard's Park.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/going-green-with-elevated-cycleway/2007/12/16/1197740096705.html

This is piece missing cycle infrastructure we really need. The mayor of N Sydney, Genia McCaffery is spot on where she says:

Having a decent bicycle network in Sydney is a key part of sustainable transport," Cr McCaffery said. "Many people are deterred from riding bikes because there are no proper dedicated routes or because access to routes is difficult."

Onya. I'm sending her an email in support of the idea:

mayor@northsydney.nsw.gov.au

And while I'm at it I'm shooting off and email to the NSW Minister for Roads Eric Roozendhall and Federal Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese too urging their support.

enquiries.roads@roozendaal.minister.nsw.gov.au

A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

More worryingly though from the Herald story:

"According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the number of cyclists killed on the roads rose sharply in 2007 to 44 - a 30 per cent increase on the previous year."

Unfortunately this grim tally is only going to grow and infrastructure coupled with driver and rider education plus a bunch of other things is critical .

Views: 24

Comment by Simon Sharwood on December 17, 2007 at 9:07am
I agree with Phil. Let's not be looking for handouts like this, let's fit in with other infrastructure ... and let's work so that other road users develop more cycling-friendly attitudes.
The highways at this part of North Sydney are 15 lanes wide. How about we get one?
Comment by Richard on December 17, 2007 at 10:47am
Sure, $30m is a lot of money and yes, agree that a balance need to be found between cars and cyclists on the road. Will it be built, maybe, maybe not.

Will there be a purpose built cycle freeways running all over the Sydney - never. However in some places we do need purpose built cycle infrastructure if we are going to get any real improvements in the near future. Adaptation where practical, new infrastructure where adaptation not practical.

We can argue endlessly where money should be spent. How about millions invested in rider education for kids in schools? Fabulous. Tougher road laws protecting cyclists? Wonderful. Bicycle parking and changing facilities in all major public transport nodes? Rapture.

Even if a single inch of bike path is never laid I think big-picture, high profile proposals do bring pressure to bear on infrastructure decision makers on what is needed to build sustainable multi-use transport links (let's not forget pedestrians and other forms non-powered getting around). This has a tremendous strategic and tactical advantage in cycle advocacy efforts.

And I've never paid to take a bike on a train or ferry in 10 years.
Comment by Jan on December 17, 2007 at 10:59am
I agree with Phil and Simon, we already have enough roads to ride on, projects like this one do not address the real issue of poor motorist behaviour. In a way, separating bikes from motorised traffic condones poor driver attitudes and even rewards it by removing the so-called problem of cyclists.
And while Richard makes a good point, ie, proposals of this type air the issues, I fear that real solutions will never be found if no-one is looking past the "spend the money, build the infrastructure" mindset.
Comment by Simon Sharwood on December 17, 2007 at 11:05am
Never paid to take a bike on the train?
I've been told by station staff that I have to.
One day I suspect I will have a very interesting conversation with a tax office auditor when they ask why I needed one ticket on the way to a meeting, but two on the way back!
Comment by Paul on December 17, 2007 at 1:14pm
Everybody here is talking about the same thing here, our ability in future years, to be able to move as needed around our city, in a timely and safe manner, while minimising the need to consume fossil fuels. The delivery of that is the problem. When we have a State Treasurer and Minister for Infrastructure - Mr Costa, who says he doesn't believe in planning, it is hard to be optimistic that we will be able to achieve those goals.
It appears that our State Govt. does not want more people to use public transport and indeed it is hard to see how the existing system could cope with a large increase in numbers without reducing a large number of hospital beds or saving money in those other non essential areas such as education or police. or maybe get rid of some of their press secretaries (heaven forbid). I have a low opinion of politicians (including the ones in the public service) of all flavours and if we are ever going to get out of the mess that is our lot, we need decent administrators who take a holistic approach to our infrastructure planning. Currently the RTA, local Govt. City Rail, State Buses etc all seem to be running their own races, with the outcome that we don't have decent parking (car or bike) at our transport nodes, no secure bike parking in either the cities or at suburban centres, bus stops that have a number with no indication of where the bus goes and an entire outer suburban fringe that is so poorly served by public transport, that the residents are forced into becoming multi car families. We have such poor planning, that the M2 motorway was built with 2 car lanes and one bike lane in each direction, only to see the volume grow in a matter of a few years to such that the westerly bike lane has been removed and turned into a mini car lane. I felt ill when our previous opposition leader (I forget) stated that one of his major goals was to put more public transport into the CBD in the form of light rail. Had he ever been on the undergound, or did he not realise it was there. Plus I fear tramlines (tramlinophobia) as my bike and I have had trouble with them in the past.
There are some excellent examples in cities around the world of what can be done and I would urge that our planners go and look - not as part of a delegation or junket - not on guided tours by the local authorities but as users of the infrastructure. And then try to do the same here.

I guess the question is where would I start and it really depends on the money. Given the funds I would first build a metro system like Paris which covers the city and suburbs like a spiderweb with underground stations only hundreds of metres apart. At the larger stops I would put in Bus Interchanges like the ones in Brisbane or parts of Dallas, complete with ample car and secure bike parking, complete with combined ticketing. Education via TV advertising on the rights of bicycle riders and how little that car drivers are actually delayed by the odd bike (it would only be secs most times before being able to safely pass). And lastly I would probably increase public transport fares to help maintain and improve the system in the way that they should be, not when forced to by media pressure.

I thought having a rant would make me feel better but when I think about the likelihood of anything improving, it doesn't. I might as well find some tram tracks to ride along.
Comment by Adrian on December 17, 2007 at 2:10pm
I thought it was unfortunate that this report elevated the dangers of cycling on the road in a statistical way that didn’t really have any depth as to what’s going on out there. Then there was this issue of projecting a ‘segregated’ approach to cycling, as though we need to wait for the infrastructure to be built before we can get people on the bike. That argument runs in a vicious circle of negativity. What fantasy world are we going to live in where cyclists and motorists are not to interact? The best way to improve cyclist safety is to get more people cycling and to put a greater emphasis on improving the attitudes of motorists (something that is almost never thought of). As for the proposed bridge, I don't mind it and I'm happy for it to be built, but I wonder if there might be other more effective ways of improving cycling infrastructure across North Sydney.
Comment by Richard on December 18, 2007 at 12:56pm
Great comments and perspectives!

Seems to me the key issues are around finding the balance between the 'hard' options (infrastructure, adaptation, planning etc) and 'soft' (driver training, promoting cycling etc) options. How big $$ are invested and where they are invested needs to be thought through we have to make a start somewhere.

Paul's point is a great one about planning or lack of it. Integrating sustainable transport infrastructure (new or existing) into current networks strikes me as the main game. Tricky to do when so much of our public transport is in crisis. I can partly understand why policies that put more people onto overstretched peak-time services and viewed with some nervousness (even before hospital bed cuts come into the equation).

That being said I am constantly frustrated when I see so many great potential projects to improve cycling and other sustainable transport fall between the cracks of government silos. There is a real and urgent need for better cooperation between agencies - something I'll be doing my best to push both inside and outside my professional working life.
Comment by Jan on December 18, 2007 at 4:25pm
Not sure that I'd agree that a 1m wide bike lane to service 2000 cyclists daily is actually an "improvement". Getting motorists and cyclists to share the existing road equitably would be an improvement.
I can't understand why cyclists are being placed in a "special needs" category. In order for anyone to cycle all they need is a bike in working order, a helmet, and a road to ride on. "Policies" aimed at "improving cycling" are actually taking a very simple thing and making it seem very complicated and hard to do. No wonder it is difficult to encourage new people to ride to work!
Comment by Richard on December 19, 2007 at 8:54am
Good points Jan though I see cycleways less as catering for a special needs group (like disabled access) and more as a way of returning roads as a means of transport for all modes and not just a place for cars.

Re policies, agree anyone can jump on a bike, just like going for a walk.

However, encouraging a mass movement (to cycling) and promoting real cultural change such as getting cyclists and motorists to share the existing road equitably is a more ambitious. Policies can encourage, discourage or maintain the status quo.

I'm not an advocate of a central government cycling policy as this will not work. A sustainable transport policy linking into health, environment, community development, economic and other policies is what is needed.
Comment by Richard on December 19, 2007 at 8:55am
Also there are some interesting letters to the editor in the Herald yesterday and today re the Harbourlink proposal.

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