What were they thinking?

A photo essay on bicycle engineering disasters

Sometimes when I’m riding I come across such engineering messes that I stop and wonder, what were they thinking? Here are some of the best examples in Sydney’s West: 


 Can’t Cross the Road

This one is in Blacktown and is what really started me on this issue; path on the right goes to Toongabbie then Parramatta via Winston Hills, path across the road goes to Parklea, then you can follow a joining path to, well, Windsor. Cyclists are going to be using both paths and wish to get from one path to the other. However when the T-Way path across the road was constructed it stopped 20 metres short of the existing railway based path, simply by not crossing the road. The traffic lights here were built to allow buses to turn right, it would have been easy to include some shared path lights to get people across this busy little road, or block the road off and have motorists go around the block. Cars can wait several minutes to get out onto Sunnyholt Rd, and cyclists that arrive in that time are blocked, resulting in conflicts between cyclists and the already uptight motorists.



Red Light City

Outside Westmead Hospital, 4 sets of red lights within 800 metres. The time taken to ride this section on the road is 20% of the equivalent time by using the shared path and waiting for each traffic light change. This is a major reason why cyclists ride on the road; or simply don’t ride at all. Across the road begins one of the very few bicycle only paths in our city, but it bets very little use because the lights at each end of it are always red when a cyclists approaches, always.






Deadly bus seat.

Let’s paint a bus seat a nice dark brown, and put it in the way of cyclists on a bike path, near a fence that makes the path quite narrow, unders ome tress tat cast a shadow. Someone will hit this at night almost without knowing what they hit. This little gem is a good reason to ride your commute slowly in daylight in both directions and learn about the dangers and obstacles before you get caught out at night or in rain.





Parked Cars Galore

This is one of western Sydney’s busiest roads, the Cumberland Hwy. The residents already have nowhere safe to leave their cars. Adding a shared path just gave them some extra concrete to use as a parking area.

Cyclists have the choice of squeezing between the cars and the fences, or risking death by going between the parked cars and the unprotected traffic lane. This is a truck route, and falling off the gutter into the path of any vehicle at 70 km/h will be deadly, if it’s a semi-trailer you fall in front of the result will be horrendous. This is one path my kids are banned from using.

To our credit, the cyclists of the area fought against the construction of this path; and lost. The RTA have built a nice parking area, not a shared path.


When I see outcomes like this I stop and just wonder; when they sat down and designed this,


Views: 564

Comment by Will Wassell on April 1, 2011 at 4:33pm
Right turn bicycle lane, Hume highway and centenary drive south strathfield. another beauty
Comment by Tony Arnold on April 2, 2011 at 12:04am

Why not mark some of these on Veloplano?


Follow this link and you will find the map for Blacktown.  If you login (top left button) then you should be able to edit the "poor facilities" layer and add issues.  You can even add the photos.  Let me know how it goes and if you have any problems.

Comment by Colin on April 2, 2011 at 9:16am

This is what they were thinking:

"In order to tick some box somewhere and satisfy a tiny bunch of whinging cyclists, we have to build some bike 'infrastructure' that nobody will ever use, so it doesn't matter what we do."

The part that they never consciously think, but is in fact the main principle supporting all their other thoughts is:

"We must never do anything that makes the situation worse for people using cars."

Comment by Dabba on April 3, 2011 at 1:06pm
I have found that when cars are parked on a cycleway, the best thing to do is to report it to the local council.  Photos help, particularly if the number plates are visible with a date stamp on the photo.  Usually my council will get a ranger or police to patrol and issue infringement notices where appropriate.


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