Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Ride to work? You’ll need a bike barrier for that

Between 1% and 3% of Australian commuters are out on the roads today proving cycling is often the fastest transport choice in Australian cities. Why don’t more people join them? It is not for a lack of…

We’ve got to stop seeing paint on the road as adequate for cyclists. Flickr/crosby_cj

Between 1% and 3% of Australian commuters are out on the roads today proving cycling is often the fastest transport choice in Australian cities.

Why don’t more people join them?

It is not for a lack of interest. Australians have already stocked their households with an average of 1.6 bikes. The reason most of those bikes gather dust in garages is that few of us are prepared to risk our lives riding near cars, as Australian traffic and planning authorities expect us to do.

Now even the US has decided to make it easier for cyclists. Will Australia ever catch up?

In-carriage cycling - mixing it with car traffic - is the primary reason our death rates per million kilometres cycled are three times higher than in the Netherlands. We may have helmets, but the Dutch have the protection that matters: barrier protection from cars.

A study led by Anne Lusk at Harvard found what common sense tells us, that injury rates are much lower on barrier protected cycle-tracks than on comparable roads without bicycle provisions.

Another led by Kay Teschke, which interviewed injured Canadian cyclists, found barrier protected cycle tracks were one-ninth as likely to have been the site of their accident compared to a randomly selected control site on the route they were cycling.

Studies such as these highlight the greater risk of what Herslund et.al. call “looked-but-failed-to-see errors” by drivers when cyclists have to use roads, plus the well understood danger posed by opening car doors.

Many cyclists have been killed when a carelessly-opened car door has clipped their handlebar and caused them to fall in the path of the vehicle travelling behind them. Many, many, many more have been injured.

A mountain of evidence favouring barrier protected cycle tracks over painted bike lanes has caused an about-face in policy direction in the United States. In July 2013 the US Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) put an invitation out to protected cycle track experts, after 40 years of their advice being ignored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Engineers.

The journal Injury Prevention rightfully takes some of the credit on their blog.

A sad irony in the history of bicycle transport is that keen cyclists aided and abetted motoring lobbyists, who wanted the whole road for cars.

Painted bike lanes don’t get much respect from certain motorists.

Bike store owner John Forester was a keen “vehicular cyclist”. He could keep pace with cars, assert his right to a lane, and gracefully somersault onto the grass if ever a driver looked but didn’t see him. He published these tips in his 1976 book Effective Cycling, with some good intentions, but also a hint of male pride.

By the way he opposed the Dutch-modelled cycle tracks he feared would spread to the US, you could be forgiven for thinking his secret fear was being made to ride beside women and children.

Authorities throughout the Anglosphere nations where Forester’s book was read most were happy to listen to a male voice of cycling. There was no way though that Forester’s ideas were going to have sway with the Dutch.

Too many Dutch mothers were already active in the Stop the Child Murder rallies that began in 1973 after 450 children were killed on their bikes in one year. The Netherlands was developing feminine and juvenile bike infrastructure that did not exclude men. Australia, like the US, did the opposite.

In every nation, including Australia, bicycle transport was mainstream until the second world war. In every nation, including the Netherlands, most of those cyclists were wooed, cajoled and bullied into driving during the 1950s and 60s.

But then the Dutch, closely followed by the Danes, gave bikes their own protected space in the road matrix. Each nation’s bike patronage soared and with it their economies benefited from increased discretionary movement and chance interaction, and their hospitals had less road trauma and morbid illness to treat.

With the rest of Europe, the UK, and now even the US moving to broad-appeal bike transport policies, we must ask why Australians still mistake paint on the road for bike infrastructure.

That could be changing. A few local governments are already defying state level policies by building protected cycle tracks, like the Burke Street cycle track in Sydney.

Transport economists serving the former Labor commonwealth government issued a report last July recommending protected bike infrastructure be included with every new urban road, because A$14.30 indirectly flows back to our economy each time one of us chooses a bike for a 20 minute commute.

The automatic association Australians make between cycling and sport indirectly hinders the development of bike transport infrastructure. As a competitive cyclist myself for more than 20 years, I would be the last to blame Cadel Evans, or even our MAMIL prime minister, for how things have played out.

I would blame any daring competitive cyclist though who presumed to speak on behalf of all cyclists, from their experience, without recognising that most other Australians can ride a bike too, but are rightfully scared to.

Articles also by This Author

Sign in to Favourite

Join the conversation

92 Comments sorted by

  1. Paul Richards

    integral operating system

    Appreciate the article.
    Steven Fleming wrote; "[blame] ... without recognising that most other Australians can ride a bike too, but are rightfully scared to." This is 'the climate of fear' fostered by motor vehicle dominance.
    While transnational corporations are allowed to promote their form of energy consumption', our local development of transport infrastructure will not reach true integration. The Danes and Dutch have revised public policy decades ago and weighed the transport balance equally…

    Read more
  2. david leitch
    david leitch is a Friend of The Conversation.

    research analyst

    I recently rode with my wife and 15 year old daughter the 350 km from Passau to Vienna. Nearly all was on barrier protected cycle tracks. In 2000 the six of us inclduing the then 2 yr old in trailer did 350 km from Ulm to Passau in Germany again nearly all on barrier protected cycle tracks.

    Both journeys we felt completely safe, to the extent it was an effort to get everyone to wear their helmets.

    Having fractured a rib and punctured a lung when a car door caught me on the pacifc highway sydney I could not agree more with the sentiments of this article.

    If you ride regularly on the road in Australia you almost certainly have had a serious accident or know someone that did.

    report
    1. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to david leitch

      "If you ride regularly on the road in Australia you almost certainly have had a serious accident "

      I have for decades, some years more than others, started in 1976 when I was old enough to ride to school. These days I live rurally on a dirt road so my riding is fairly free of cars and a 20km round trip sees me to the pub and back with 6km on the highway... but never an accident, oh so many near misses though. Same with my motorbikes when the commute was longer in years past I didn't get a car…

      Read more
  3. Chris Sherley

    Lecturer/researcher of marketing at Charles Sturt University

    "The reason most of those bikes gather dust in garages is that few of us are prepared to risk our lives riding near cars, as Australian traffic and planning authorities expect us to do."

    Do you have any official stats to suggest that this is the case? I just asked around my office of 25-30 people and not one of them said safety or concern about being hit by a car. Most of them said they just couldn't be bothered, which mimics my own sentiment or that it is too far. This isn't a great sample so I'd like to see some real stats. If we implement a multi-billion dollar policy nation wide of protected bike lanes then we need some evidence that a substantial number of people would use them.

    report
    1. Kim Houghton

      Adjunct Associate Professor ANZSOG

      In reply to Chris Sherley

      Hi Chris

      I don't have official stats, but the ACT Government's latest transport policy has an interesting list of reasons that more people don't use the generally good cycling infrastructure that the Territory has. Table 6 of the Active Transport policy (http://www.transport.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/397363/Active_Travel_EDS_ACT_Transport_Policy_FA_final_web.pdf)has the list and the ACT Government's intended responses. In summary: too dangerous; too hot and sweaty; too cold and dark; too hilly; nowhere to park my bike; too far to ride; too old to ride; not fit enough; don't have time; inconvenient. The reasons fit well with feedback I get from riders and non-riders. It would be good to see some market segmentation. I'm especially interested to note that most of the reasons can be overcome by riding an electric bike!

      report
    2. Steven Fleming

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Chris Sherley

      Hi Chris, two relevant US texts come to mind, http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/237507
      http://bikeportland.org/2012/07/18/psu-research-delves-deeper-into-four-types-of-cyclists-74938
      Roughly 60% of people say they would cycle but the danger deters them. I believe the City of Sydney got some similar results from random survey data they have on file. Granted, not everyone who says they are keen will ride every day, and there are other deterrents, like hills, theft and rain. However, safety is the biggest barrier that the data points out.

      report
    3. Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Steven Fleming

      While I love riding, travelling throughout Newcastle is somewhat of a chore, with many major roads being too difficult or unsafe to ride on. My response to your question Chris would also be "can't be bothered", but the justification being more than sheer laziness.

      report
    4. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Chris Sherley

      "Four dominant barriers were found:
      1. The negative image of cyclists and cycling amongst non-cyclists.
      2. The perceived danger of cycling, and commuter cycling in particular, due to perceived or actual lack of safe places to cycle, and the fear of being hit by a motorist.
      3. The lack of facilities to store or lock up bicycles.
      4. Little or no understanding or acknowledgement of the benefits of cycling."

      http://www.pcal.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/90904/Barriers_to_cycling_in_NSW_study.pdf

      More links here
      http://theconversation.com/more-cyclists-that-depends-on-where-you-live-11154

      report
    5. Robert Heal

      Botanist

      In reply to John Perry

      Yet NSW retarded policemen think that the solution to a juvenile crim trying to evade the police at night without lights and helmet, is to ban assisted bicycles. I often wonder why these stentorian knuckleheads never think before they open their mouths.

      report
    6. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Steven Fleming

      Hi Steven

      Is there research other than the Portland studies? As Chris suggests, major investment in infrastructure requires pretty sound evidence.

      There may be particular issues with roads in Portland Oregon, for example. Also there were survey items like "If or when I ride a bike, I'm concerned about being hit by a motor vehicle" - which could arguably be push-polling.

      report
    7. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      "2. The perceived danger of cycling,"

      Some of that may be down to compulsory helmet laws. From one study I remember reading from the UK, the perception seemed to be that cycling was more dangerous when cyclists were wearing helmets. eg if you had never used a photocopier and saw someone with a safety harness, gloves, helmet, fluro vest, particluate mask etc using a 'copier you might think that activity was dangerous.

      Many children in Australia no longer cycle and then transition to Cars for transport with little or no experience commuting in traffic.

      report
    8. Chris Sherley

      Lecturer/researcher of marketing at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Kim Houghton

      Thanks Kim, I think a segmentation would be very interesting, especially if you could develop a good set of scales to measure barrier impacts on the various groups. Would be a lot of fun to do!

      report
    9. Robert Heal

      Botanist

      In reply to James Jenkin

      There is some research from Melbourne, which I read about two weeks ago. It had some shortcomings, but it was a quite interesting read.

      report
    10. Andrew Kewley
      Andrew Kewley is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Student

      In reply to Chris Sherley

      The biggest barrier is that cycling is seen as something unusual, something that only a minority of people do.

      In cities where cycling is taken seriously, it is not seen as an unusual activity to increase your fitness, but a fun and convenient way to get around.

      In those cities 'cyclists' aren't what we think of when we think of 'cyclists', they're pedestrians on two wheels.

      report
    11. James Steward

      Senior Software Engineer

      In reply to Steven Fleming

      And let's not forget it is _perceived_ danger that deters people. Most of them don't realise that walking is 2-3 times more dangerous than cycling, per unit distance, time or trip.

      Mandatory helmet laws and regular media beat-ups add to people's fears.

      Yes, it is sad but true, even though statistics show you would have to ride something like 30 million kilometers to reach a probability of 50% of being killed on your bike by a car – and that includes the riders who were riding at night without lights, drunks and scofflaws.

      report
  4. Brad Rath

    logged in via Twitter

    I am currently in the Netherlands and have been discussing this very issue with my work mates as the difference between the roads here and back home is massive. I live in Townsville, I used to ride to work in other places I have lived but I refuse to in Townsville because of the complete disrespect and disregard that Townsville drivers have towards cyclists. I don't know anybody who lives in Townsville and who rides to work that has not had a serious car related accident.

    Meanwhile, the Queensland…

    Read more
    1. number8

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Brad Rath

      When I began riding to James Cook University as a 17yo, it took me about 2 weeks to realise that riding on main roads was virtually suicidal. I used footpaths and quiet backstreets.

      report
  5. David Elson

    logged in via Facebook

    The long distance of travelling from the outer suburbs would appear to place a limit on the feasibility of cycling as a mode of transport?

    (also pray tell how one transports tools or family members on the back of your average bike?).

    report
    1. Steven Fleming

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to David Elson

      The average Danish bike commuter travels at 20kph. Traffic lights are timed so they don't have to stop if they ride at this speed. That gives them a quicker overall speed than cars can achieve in the denser parts of Australian cities.
      Or for a serious solution to the problem of distance: http://www.velo-city.ca/MainFrameset.html
      As for cargo, it would be worth googling "bakfiets" "bullitt" "cargo bike" etc. These are much cheaper and healthier options than cars.

      report
    2. Graham Gower

      ex engineer, evol biology student

      In reply to David Elson

      Consider how little traffic you'd deal with if inner suburbians adopted cycling.

      Its difficult to know the size and weight of the "tools" to which you refer, but its no problem to wear a backpack, attach a rack, panniers, or even a trailer to the bike.

      Why can't the additional family members have their own bike?

      report
    3. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Steven Fleming

      I think there are serious physical limits to what a human on a bike can carry pull.

      report
    4. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graham Gower

      This would be very impractical with younger children or the elderly (or disabled.

      However I have no gripes with people who choose pedals over power, especially if they contribute to any additional infrastructure via some sort of registration scheme.

      report
    5. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      What's good for a low population high density city is not so good for a low population city thats highly spread out.

      report
    6. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graham Gower

      Seeing as inner suburbs are well serviced by public transport I'd imagine that an increase in bikes on the road would have a significantly negative effect on traffic in terms of making it worse/slower.

      report
    7. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graham Gower

      " Its difficult to know the size and weight of the "tools" to which you refer, but its no problem to wear a backpack, attach a rack, panniers, or even a trailer to the bike."

      Aside from tradies utes most of the other vehicles I share the road with on my daily commute are light commercial vehicles, aka vans. I dont think in their case that a push bike is going to cut it.

      report
    8. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to David Elson

      "This would be very impractical with younger children"

      why ? See pics here as an example, plenty of kids and elderly.

      http://www.ski-epic.com/amsterdam_bicycles/index.html

      " especially if they contribute to any additional infrastructure via some sort of registration scheme."

      Why ? they save you money. Most of them have a car already and use it less, meaning new highways and roads don't have to be built because they lower congestion and they pay rego for the car they don't use. It would be far better to pay them to cycle rather then tax them to cycle.

      report
    9. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor S

      That's fine for a weekend pedal, but going to work, daycare, school with all the baggage that entails from an outer suburb is neither p rctical nor convenient.

      As for new infrastructure to service, which in Australia is largely a sport or lifestyle choice, a form of fee for service is needed, scarce budget funds dont ya know?

      report
    10. Steven Fleming

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to David Elson

      Are you suggesting that everyone drives, and we all suffer the externalities?
      What if people in outer areas are given more incentives to ride to train stations? Greater patronage would allow trains to run more frequently. Extra carriages might carry bikes. Japan has the bike parking solutions. The Netherlands has a solution for bike sharing at destinations.

      report
    11. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Steven Fleming

      Not at all.

      I am suggesting there are some limitations on cycling as a form of mass transport even when safety factors are rectified (although I do agree that the safety aspect/riding in mixed traffic is what prevents me from partaking).

      That due to fiscal and other budgetary constraints (building barriers and segregating bike paths are needed but expensive) that there should be some scheme in place (perhaps a registration scheme?) to enable funds to be found for this.

      So in short, bikes racks, cycle paths and barriers are needed and the government needs to build it (but be creative in how it raises the funds to do so).

      report
    12. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to David Elson

      The answer implicit here is 'cycling can replace all car trips' but can it and ought it to? The question should not be framed as 'can the bike replace this' but what is the best replacement for car travel.

      Any mix of transport modes to replace the reliance on the auto is likely to be a good thing for our cities. The bike (as much as I love cycling) is no more virtuous than pedestrianism and is not practical enough for many commuting trips alone. A mix of public transport, pedestrianism and the bike for trips of up to 5km or so is the likely best fit - funnily enough this is what you see in most bike centric cities.

      Any idea that the bike can 'replace' the motor vehicle in suburban australia (ie with bike-trucks) is really only feasible for enthusiasts, those that live in the inner-city or both. The reality is for many living in the outer suburbs is commutes of 20-30km or more and shops that are kms away from the house.

      report
    13. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Well the answer is it can't.

      But that doesn't mean cycling shouldn't be used to complement private motor vehicles, trains, buses and ferries for people who are able and willingly to cycle to work/or wherever they choose to go.

      In short I agree with you entirely.

      report
    14. Steven Fleming

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to David Elson

      Gotcha. Barriers on the road can be very cheap: http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/tech-talk-19-beautiful-ways-to-protect-bike-lanes-photos
      One creative solution I propose in my book (yep, that's a plug) is bicycle oriented development beside trails on non-vehicular easements, as is happening along the Minneapolis Midtown Greenway.
      Based on overseas examples, I think a bike modal share of 10% for urban cores and 5% for outer suburbs is achievable in Australia; why not redirect 5-10% of public roads spending to bike infrastructure? Then we could talk about building rain canopies over main bike routes.

      report
    15. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Steven Fleming

      Where bike lanes are already present that is the case.... in the far more likely scenario where bike lanes are absent (usually at the most inopportune moment) I imagine it would be quite expensive and detrimental to traffic to take lanes previously allocated to buses and cars and cut it off.

      Those examples in the link provided are quite interesting, I'd prefer the tree and grass barrier, although I'd imagine far more expensive than installing simple bollards, as this would also provide a barrier…

      Read more
    16. Robert Heal

      Botanist

      In reply to Steven Fleming

      Your bike will get stolen at the station. That's one problem. And riding home from the station after dark would be another problem.

      report
    17. Andrew Kewley
      Andrew Kewley is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Student

      In reply to David Elson

      David, you need to have a look at the actual funding involved (council, state and federal funding for roads as well as one-off infrastructure projects).

      Registration and fuel taxes only cover a minority fraction of the cost of road infrastructure. A cyclist who pays tax and never drives a car is in fact heavily subsidising motorists.

      Secondly, it is about choice. Choice to have safe alternative transportation options that you would feel comfortable letting your wife and children use.

      report
    18. Andrew Kewley
      Andrew Kewley is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Student

      In reply to David Elson

      If it was about funding and economics, we would only build new cycling infrastructure and cut down on the amount of roads for cars.

      Cycling infrastructure is much much much cheaper to build and maintain.

      In case you missed it, here was the government report on the economics:
      http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure/mcu/urbanpolicy/active_travel/files/infra1874_mcu_active_travel_report_final.pdf

      There have been many studies worldwide with similar conclusions.

      report
    19. Andrew Kewley
      Andrew Kewley is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Student

      In reply to David Elson

      In New York, where they removed lanes for separated cycle infrastructure, average speeds of taxis moving through the city did not change (actually in improved by a tiny amount).

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/05/nyregion/in-bloombergs-city-of-bike-lanes-data-show-cabs-gain-a-little-speed.html?_r=3&;

      http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/ssi12_summary.pdf

      Remember, that roads induce demand and vice versa - less roads mean less demand and more alternative transport.

      report
    20. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andrew Kewley

      Considering how much commercial traffic is present on our city road it's not desirable to introduce bikes in a lot of areas (at least not unless they are segregated from the traffic).

      report
    21. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andrew Kewley

      I see.. yet businesses and their employees (who generate the money that pay for the roads both bikes and cars use) overwhelming use cars and other commercial motor vehicles for their businesses.

      I don't think a bike is going to be able to compare with this (or other utes) as a commercial vehicle; http://www.caradvice.com.au/65137/mahindra-pik-up-review-road-test/

      If new costs are going to be incurred in order to cater for cyclists (and I agree there should) then this cost will need to be recouped somehow, preferably from those who's life style choices necessitate the new infrastructure.

      report
    22. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andrew Kewley

      Sure, but new and increased spending will need to be sourced additionally from somewhere.

      Existing revenues are already insufficient in most states to fund existing commitments.

      report
    23. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andrew Kewley

      Thanks for confirming my point. It would be impossible to move large items more than a paltry distance on a bicycle.

      Your photographs merely highlight this point.

      report
    24. Andrew Kewley
      Andrew Kewley is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Student

      In reply to David Elson

      Right now, roads are a drain on taxpayers money, because they are not even remotely covered by registration or fuel taxes.

      Riding has strong economic advantages over cars, so basically, we need to either cut road funding by over 50% and ask cyclists to fund cycling infrastructure, or we can increase the cycling infrastructure budget to match the desired modal share, instead of being less than 1% of the transportation budget as it is in many places.

      report
    25. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andrew Kewley

      It's true that registration doesn't cover roads, but much of the GST revenue that does cover it (or general revenue) is fueled by businesses that are reliant on those very roads for accessing their markets, transporting goods, staff etc...

      Without a modern and well designed road network our economy would be hamstrung.

      I don't disagree that riding has important benefits, for commuters especially. I just don't believe that cycling specific infrastructure should be at the expense of the transportation budget, if anything infrastructure spending in general needs to be increased.

      (and I believe that at least Abbott, unfortunately the state premiers may or may not be on board, is committed to increasing this spending).

      report
    26. Asher Floyd

      Photographer

      In reply to David Elson

      Family members get their own bicycles. Bikes are usually single person vehicles. Children can sit in back mounted seats or trailers.

      I regularly ride to jobs with 15-25kg of gear. Panniers plus a backpack.

      There will always be certain tasks that need a car, but the typical single-person-commute isn't one of them.

      report
  6. Frank Moore

    Consultant

    A common sense and cheap, immediate innovation would be to define 'dangerous driving' to include passing a cyclist WITHIN A METER of the cyclist.
    A simple system of cameras on a police or volunteer bike could click away a few thousands of dollars of behaviour changing fines per hour on say - a St Kilda Commute.
    The clown in a Jazz (surely a narrow, easily navigable car) that cleaned me up, was 'risking' the left hand side of his car down to the millimeter.
    He - of course - miscalculated [and he ran].
    His brain needs to estimate, passing the bike PLUS a meter - Meter + 1/2.
    No road works required.
    And a quick, cash positive solution to ensure that "Bikes AND Cars - Share the road"

    report
    1. Graham Gower

      ex engineer, evol biology student

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Legislating a 1 metre passing distance is not going to happen. There are too many road infrastructure deficiencies that would see this law broken by reasonable road use.

      report
    2. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Frank Moore wrote; " A simple system of cameras on a police or volunteer bike could click" It is easy to empathise with your perspective. It is a good concept, however the willingness of our road code enforcers is very limited as you already know.
      Our reality is traffic infrastructure needs to be developed around the weakest link, allowing for the poorest values or driver behaviour and controlling it with good design.
      Punitive measures need to be automated. The enforcement of 'strict liability…

      Read more
    3. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Graham Gower

      You are kidding right?

      http://www.amygillett.org.au/minimumovertakingreport

      1 metre is currently the "guidance" for motorists in most states of Australia.
      http://www.amygillett.org.au/assets/Section-3-AGF-Minimum-Overtaking-Distance-Precedent.pdf

      In Victoria for example

      "Be patient and give bike riders a clearance of at least one metre when passing them, more if travelling over 60km/h."

      http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/Home/SafetyAndRules/SaferRiders/BikeRiders/SharingTheRoad.htm

      report
    4. Luke MacLachlan

      Solicitor

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul,
      On "strict liability." I agree with imposing that in civil law, for all sorts of reasons. BUT I am very doubtful that it makes much, if any, difference to cycling safety. Three points.

      Yes, they have strict liability in NL. They also have it in France. But cycling is both more common and much safer in NL. Same legal system, but infinitely better cycling infrastructure. Maybe national characteristics play a part. But Dutch cyclists are generally on *completely* segregated paths. Dutch cyclists…

      Read more
    5. Luke MacLachlan

      Solicitor

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul, one other thing. I do think your point about insurers acting as enforcers is v.interesting and has potential. For example, half of all cyclist deaths in London are caused by lorries, generally construction lorries. Without going into details, there are technological improvements that could be made, that the freight industry is opposing. If they/their insurers were liable for every death/injury, they might make those improvements.

      report
    6. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Luke MacLachlan

      You are right and I will add, there is no quick fix, like the political smokescreen attempted using the helmet legislation. With all promises and little cultural benefit.
      Luke MacLachlan wrote; " But cycling is both more common and much safer in NL. Same legal system, but infinitely better cycling infrastructure." Most definitely agree. The problem is an integral issue and one of equilibrium between all transport forms. A balance with little dominance of one form over another.
      The early adoption…

      Read more
    7. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Thanks Mike.
      And many drivers do treat us with respect and pass us safely - with care.
      The Amy Gillett Foundation campaign is something that needs to be legislated for.
      Given the vastness of the road network across our hugely bloated cities - waiting a 100 years for segregated, barrier roads to somehow be built is waiting too long.
      'Dangerous Driving' is simply put - dangerous driving! And needs to be stamped out wherever and however it occurs.
      Some drivers cannot deal in subtleties and need a straightforward number to go by.
      Legislating 1 and 1/2 meter min passing distance will:
      1. Slow down traffic of it's own accord;
      2. Save lives;
      3. Encourage more and better use of cycles on roads.

      Seems an easily obtainable, low/no cost improvement with readily available enforcement measures - and a guaranteed driver behaviour change.

      report
    8. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Graham Gower

      And Graham, please explain some circumstances where it would be reasonable to break the passing distance law.
      At what speeds would it be non life threatening for the cyclist?

      report
    9. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul, I'm fine with something you know that works somewhere else in our common desire to change driver behaviour.
      From Denmark this: Tremendous population growth. According to new population forecasts, Copenhagen's population will grow by 100,000 towards 2025...
      Ohh dear, nothing like the problems we inherit from the continuous 100,000 a year plus bloat of greater Melbourne. Then Sydney, then Brisbane.
      160 kilometers across of all sorts of standards of roads and associated infrastructure.
      What…

      Read more
    10. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Luke MacLachlan

      It is good to see a grasp of the wider implications and there are many the longer we look.
      Luke MacLachlan wrote;"If they/their insurers were liable for every death/injury, they might make those improvements" Large truck operators you mention would have a lot to gain, because an aware driver looks after the drive train and that translates to less downtime.
      Downtime is the overarching problem and all areas affected by incidents stand to benefit under the use of Strict Liability by insurers. The…

      Read more
    11. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Frank Moore

      Firstly Frank the perspective is grokked, as the values, ideas and feelings are within.
      Frank Moore wrote; " ... I'm fine with something you know that works somewhere else in our common desire to change driver behaviour." Good, because this is an integral issue and requires an overview demonstrated in the article.
      Like it or not our culture needs to evolve. Because we have a political centre of gravity that is enamoured with efficiency driving more efficiency. Even the financiers are investing…

      Read more
    12. James Steward

      Senior Software Engineer

      In reply to Graham Gower

      Graham, is it reasonable to kill or maim someone just because it seems unreasonable for you to wait until you can pass them with a meter clearance?

      Do you regularly pass other vehicles at double or triple their speed with less than a meter clearance?

      If you do, I'd like to know where you regularly drive, so I can avoid your routes.

      report
  7. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    Well here is one pertinent comment from a former motorcycle rider.
    I would not recommend that anyone on two wheels try to mix it with the murderous dolts in cars unless they are riding a very powerful and highly manoeuvrable dirt bike equipped with road tyres.
    Heaven help those people out there on two wheels without these sort of equalisers.
    Does it need to be spelled out that motorcycle riders, in the city streets, are subject to death and injury from vehicle collisions just as much as bicycle…

    Read more
  8. Robert Heal

    Botanist

    So where I ride, there is a side street every 90 metres along the road. What do you do then, grade separation ?

    There is no "one size fits all" solution. Most of the people getting killed, seem to be riding on non-suburban high speed roads.

    report
  9. Professor Angelina Russo

    Associate Dean Research at University of Canberra

    Thanks for this article Steven. As always, the focus on creating a culture of safe, normal and fun cycling shines through your writing!
    I'm in London this week and while the weather has turned and the rain has started, the number of cyclists continues to grow.
    The Guardian tells me that that a cyclists make up 24% of vehicles in London's morning rush hour.
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2013/jun/25/cyclists-quarter-london-vehicles
    Each morning I watch hundreds of cyclists make…

    Read more
    1. Steven Fleming

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Professor Angelina Russo

      Capturing the imagination is key. Car culture, and car-focused development, isn't exactly rational. The arguments in favour of cars in this thread... well Socrates would have them for lunch. But the vision for cars was inspirational—for example, the Futurama exhibition at the 1939 World's Fair in New York. Can cycling compete on aspirational grounds? I would think so. For a start, bikes themselves are quite beautiful and allow people to see and be seen in the city, and express their identities. This clip makes that clear: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqX1AWZ1shA
      As for this apparent "chore" of creating barriers on our road networks to protect cyclists, this is an opportunity for cities and districts to express intangible values
      http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/tech-talk-19-beautiful-ways-to-protect-bike-lanes-photos

      report
  10. James Steward

    Senior Software Engineer

    The US might be trying to do something, but London is a better example of a city that has embraced bicycling recently - and it's got little, if anything, to do with facilities, AFAICT.

    Facilities have not helped Stevenage though they have been there for many decades. There are very few facilities in Cambridge, yet it has Dutch-like bicycle use.

    Separated bike lanes are not necessarily as safe as people might think, according to studies. http://janheine.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/separated-cycle-paths-a-summary

    Read more
    1. James Steward

      Senior Software Engineer

      In reply to James Steward

      Crikey, it looks like I wrote about as much as you in your article, Steven!

      report
  11. Deanne Bird

    Research Fellow, Risk Frontiers Natural Hazards Research Centre at Macquarie University

    Great article Steven - I experience that treacherous ride along St Kilda Rd every day. And yes I agree, safety is the biggest concern for me. When it's raining, I don't ride to work not because I don't want to get wet but because it is too dangerous on the roads. Drivers simply do not see riders.

    report
    1. James Steward

      Senior Software Engineer

      In reply to Deanne Bird

      I wonder how St Kilda Rd would be if the left lane was a bicycle lane, such that motorists were legally obliged to change lanes to pass a cyclist in the left lane, but could use it otherwise. You could then ride in the middle of the left lane, well away from car doors, and with ample room to avoid other failures to give way.

      I only get to ride St Kilda Rd late in the evening, but there is still plenty of traffic, and it's the bike lane in the door zone that makes my ride more dangerous. Drivers expect me to use it, and I will only ride approximately on the white line furthest from the parked cars, then the motorists try to squeeze by, and I ride further right to prevent that at times.

      The only good bit of bike lane in Melbourne I've found is that 150m across Princes Bridge!

      report
  12. Rene Oldenburger

    Haven't got one

    Well I grew up in The Netherlands and in the 70's it was on the bicycle to school and I have literally no recollection of anything that was called Stop the Child Murders or know of any woman/mother who was involved in something like that.

    All the bicycle tracks were already segregated from main roads those days, the biggest problem were the mopeds (brommers) motorbike under 50cc.

    Was easy to fiddle around with those bike engines so they could reach speeds of up to 80 km an hour. They also used the segregated bicycle tracks and it was them who caused the most accidents and were involved in numerous fatal accidents

    report
  13. Chris Gillham

    Journalist

    "In-carriage cycling – mixing it with car traffic – is the primary reason our death rates per million kilometres cycled are three times higher than in the Netherlands. We may have helmets, but the Dutch have the protection that matters: barrier protection from cars."

    http://www.cycle-helmets.com/

    report
    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Chris Gillham

      I wondered how long it would take....

      report
    2. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Citizen SG wrote; "I wondered how long it would take...." And I wondered which pseudonym you would use to comment.

      report
  14. Noel McFarlane

    Cycling advocate

    I am 61, don't own a car, am based in Sydney and ride about 14,000km a year. I tour quite a bit and each year see riding conditions in several countries. I am currently in the US. I happily wear a helmet no matter where I am.
    Every time I return to Sydney the two big shocks are (a) how fast the traffic is on regular urban roads and (b) how close cars come to me when passing. These stand out in comparison to other countries. Fix them (with safe-passing laws and 30-40kph urban speed limits) and the danger would plummet.
    Sure, build separated paths. But the motor-vehicular-dominant model in AU is contrary not just to cycling. Also to walking and generally to livable communities.

    report
    1. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Noel McFarlane

      Well done Noel.
      I passed a cyclist on Beach Rd this afternoon in peak hour traffic.
      I loved the fact that she had a rearward facing camera recording it all.
      All the near misses and car stunts.
      Brave woman that.
      Knowing you could cop a red light running fine for getting within a proscribed distance of a cyclist would get traffic slowed right down to safe levels.
      The safer a cyclist looks to car drivers - especially in peak hour traffic - then the more reasonable it will seem to her to get out of her car and onto a bike.

      report
  15. Paul Loring

    logged in via email @ymail.com

    I think we need to develop the same transport route concept used for motorist for cycling. By that I mean we need to identify and classify routes, Primary, secondary, feeders, local, etc. Like roads we then need infrastructure and signage standards for that route classification.
    So for high volume high speed routes of motorist and bikes barrier protected bike routes might be appropriate. Other classifications, separate bike lanes painted green make sense, etc.
    This isn't just helpful to cyclists…

    Read more
    1. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Paul Loring

      Appreciate the perspective as the Stirling regions paths are well known and getting increasing traffic.
      Paul Loring wrote; " ... unload cyclists onto defenceless pedestrians through building Shared Paths" Our issue is cultural and clear to any driver, cyclist or pedestrian.
      If we are honest we will admit the same driver adversarial mindset is taken onto shared paths. As cyclist need to be aware the driver is an adversary. Unfortunately it applies to most pedestrians who carry the driver mindset…

      Read more
  16. Gary Cassidy

    Monash University

    It would be nice if cycling and related infrastructure were viewed the same way as walking and related infrastructure.
    I have never heard anybody complain that a footpath is taking up road space.
    I have never heard anybody proclaim that pedestrians should pay rego and carry a number plate around their neck.
    I have never heard anybody say that walking is useless because you can't carry tools or transport your family.
    Nobody expects pedestrians to walk on the road and be passed at a relative speed of 40 - 80 Km/h by cars/buses/trucks.
    People expect footpaths as a matter of course, and tolerate the associated shared cost even though use is not equally shared.
    I could go on and on!

    report
    1. James Steward

      Senior Software Engineer

      In reply to Gary Cassidy

      I have proclaimed several times that pedestrians should wear helmets because they are far more likely to die per km, per hour or per trip than cyclists - but no one listens ;-)

      Pedestrians already have walkways segregated from motor traffic, just like Steven wants, yet they are far more likely to die than cyclists who ride on the road. What will happen to cyclists safety if they are thrown off the road and made to ride on segregated paths?

      report
  17. Geoff Clark

    Senior Lecturer at University of Tasmania, School of Architecture and Design

    Interesting indeed. I have cycle commuted on the roads for approximately 25 years, with the odd accident (3 of note I think) but a significant number of near misses.

    I can certainly understand the desire for off-carriage cycling, but am painfully aware of the cost and simple impossibility in many places.

    Having spent a good deal of time in the Netherlands, cycle commuting, I thought that the standout difference was less in the infrastructure and more in the attitude of the motorists. As a friend…

    Read more
    1. James Steward

      Senior Software Engineer

      In reply to Geoff Clark

      I agree completely with you, Geoff. The roads we have are fine, it's mostly the attitude, experience and education of the motorists we have to share them with that is the problem. How many more people would ride if drivers were taught to expect cyclists to be riding in the middle of the lane, and that they were expected to pass the cyclists at a sensible distance and speed?

      Instead, we get unfriendly road design (motorways) and poorly designed bicycling facilities, shunted to the edge of the…

      Read more
  18. John Forester

    logged in via Facebook

    In the lead article Steven Fleming refers to me and to my actions. Not one of the statements that he makes about me or my actions is correct.

    Furthermore, Fleming's statements in the field of bicycle transportation engineering, about cycle tracks for example, are also false. Fleming is just another example of those people who believe their superstitions about bicycle transportation without bothering to understand the facts and science.

    report