Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bicycle music video interlude 5

With reports that the ACCC would issue fines of $1 million dollars!'WTF', to retailers who sell brakeless -gearless bikes known as fixies, lets have a cool music video featuring of course................ fixies!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bowen Place Conundrum

The Cycle path (shared Path) around Lake Burley Griffin has been decribed as Australia best half day ride by Canberra's cycle lobby group Pedal Power. It has taken quite some time to finish all the missing links as there as two agencies responsible for different sections, the National Capital Authority and the ACT Government.
One section that is the National Capital Authority responsibility is Bowen Place in the Parliamentary Triangle and is a dangerous crossing of a four lane road

View Larger Map

There are three options proposed by the NCA after consultation with  a working group which are.....


Ramp and stairs with traffic signals

Traffic signals only

The Bridge option is the most logical as it will not impede car traffic or pedestrian/cycle access to the Kings Ave bridge. Though as nothing is easy in the ACT , the National Trust and the Walter Burley Griffin Society raised heritage concerns about a footbridge as it would have a negative visual impact on 'Parliament House vista and views across and to the lake, and adverse impacts on the design geometry of the parliamentary vista and Kings Avenue Bridge'.
To view this negative impact you would have to take a helicopter view of the site or from the top of Mount Ainslie which is quite ridiculous. Ped / Cycle Bridges can have a sculptural affect and are used in many cities around the world.
Borneo Sporenberg, Amsterdam

Copenhagen, Denmark
Another option which was looked at early but not considered in the final three options was an underpass which would also be the most expensive. This doesn't seem to worry the dutch as infrastructure spending for cyclists and pedestrian has no known boundaries it would seem, is that why there are one of the healthiest and happiest nations?


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Barriers for Cycling

We have some ridiculous barriers for cycling in Canberra and I mean literally . Just imagine if we put these type of barriers on roads !

The above last two photo's are called 'motor vehicle restriction points' that reduce the pathway width to 1.4 metres at the midpoint of the rails on a 2.4 metre shared path, though  I would say that are also  cyclist restriction points.
These are quite dangerous for cyclist and I note that Bicycle Queensland recently had stated that these type of barriers are dangerous and had asked the Queensland Road and Transport department to have them removed. But as road traffic engineers who no nothing about adequate cycling infrastructure they obligingly refused.
In the Netherlands motor vehicle barriers look like this......

David Hembrow

They are also used to slow mopeds down while riding on the cycle paths. No chance of impaling yourself anywhere here. Infrastructure that is designed to be respectful of cyclists and not to enforce barriers to cycling.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jan Gehl in Hobart

Jan Gehl the well known Danish architect and the guru for making cities for people was in Hobart recently to give his assessment on Hobart's city centre. Very simple make the pedestrian at the top of the transport hierarchy, encourage bicycle use for everyone ,encourage public transport and most important of all is to get rid of cars and car parks .


Jan Gehl also visited Canberra for a short visit and gave the Walter Burley Griffin lecture at the Shine dome late last year. While only spending a day here he took a swipe at our bicycle infrastructure ,the small pathetic bicycle lanes, so that the bicyclist is protecting the parked cars and not the other way round as it is in Copenhagen and many sensible cycling countries.

Jan Gehl, Cities for People

Incidentally the ACT Government issued a Canberra City Action Plan which will see another 3000 more carparking spaces constructed in the city centre. In Copenhagen there are about 2000 car parking spaces for about 2 million inhabitants and here we are constructing more and more carparks. Carparks are expensive and can cost up to $10 000 per surface carpark, $20 000 - $30 000 per car park space in a multi storey carpark and up to $40 000  per carpark space for under ground carparks, and Canberra's car congestion is set to worsen. Why didn't the ACT Government employ Gehl Architects I wonder?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Another day ,another ride to school

I have been riding my kids to school for some time now and I have wanted to highlight the trip on video. A friend of mine Sophie has just started to ride to school with her kids so it was good to meet up and ride together.


The rates of walking and cycling to school have dropped dramatically in this country over the last 30 years as now more parents drive their children to school. The consequences have been significant in terms of heath and well being. As governments struggle to implement measures, that try to get more children active, I believe a quick history lesson is all that is needed along with some change in policy and more investment in infrastructure.

The rates for active transport of primary school children  in the Netherlands, are that ,49% cycle ,37% walk and only 14% are brought and collected by car. This sadly would be the reverse Australia and in most Australian cities today. This is also the same for the United States.

This graph would mirror Australia with the only difference a possibly higher rate of cycling and walking to school in the 1970's. Which was between 70 & 80% and a slightly lower obesity rate.

Some schools in the ACT would be lucky to have more than 20 to 30 bicycle 's in there school bike racks these days. This with school population numbers at 350 to 400 students. Even at high schools the numbers are low. This was certainly different a few decades ago..............
Late 1960's Canberra school bike parking

Yet figures have stayed about the same in the Netherlands .There is a real focus on traffic safety and bicycle proficiency with cycle training and testing of Year 6 students before they start high school.

What you see in this video is the use of cycle gardens , a miniature scale of traffic environments .These are used in many European countries to teach children road rules and traffic safety while riding a bicycle.
This is something that we use to do in Canberra with the Traffic training centres located at Deakin and Belconnen . I took some photos recently of the closed Beleconnen site.

A consultant for the Aus. Federal Police who use to run these sites recommended that these artificial environments are not good for children to learn road rules apparently. Though nothing has been implemented to fill the gap on cycle training and road rules training. A private organization has taking it upon themselves to provide cycle education for children, though at only one location it is only a small proportion of the population.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Better Infrastructure - More Cycling

Will more investment in better infrastructure for cycling ,encourage more cycling. I  believe so  and the Australian and local governments need to do more ,but do we have enough tax dollars to go around.
You could argue yes due to the increasing cost of obesity, estimated to be now worth some 58 Billion dollars nationally. Does the saying " if you build it they will come" enough for many governments and councils to improve there cycling and walking infrastructure to lure money from other priorities like health and education.
The Fuel Excise Tax would be a good way to spread the Tax dollars around for transport infrastructure which is estimated at 15 Billion dollars annually, but many motoring groups like the NRMA believe that all that money should be spent on roads for motorized traffic.

Australia was one of the only countries along with Canada to reduce its fuel tax over the last ten years. A view taken by the then Liberal (conservative) Government which believes in lower taxes and small government.They also stopped automatic indexing of the fuel excise according to CPI. 
The Netherlands, second to Turkey (though you don't here about great cyclepaths in Turkey) has spent millions on great cycling infrastructure along with Germany, Denmark . Great Britain taxing nearly as much you wonder why they haven't invested in cycling infrastructure, though with the abolished Cycling England don't expect anything soon.
Raising fuel prices by tax is certainly not a popular one and when fuel prices hit $1.75 per litre here, there was an outcry to further reduce the fuel tax.
Last year as part of the Federal government stimulus package , $40 million was provided from the $650 million Jobs fund project. This was then matched by states ,territories and councils to make the total ,$80 million. This provided much needed infrastructure which should be continued as annual funding. Its a small amount by other country standards.
Maybe with increased funding we can get back to the days when cycling was seen as normal....

Canberra ,late 1940's

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

TED's case' for' and 'against' Helmets

TED has some great speakers from time to time and is well worth the visit to the site . Here I grabbed a couple of video's one by the well known bicycle ambassador Mikael Colville-Andersen and another by neuropsychologist Kim Gorgens.

The case against............


The case for.............

Monday, November 29, 2010

Canberra Cycle Chic 2

'Would you believe Canberra has repealed its Helmet Laws' ,well no, but if you were reading the Canberra Times 'In the City' lift out you might think so. There is a picture on the front cover of two people riding bikes without helmets through Glebe Park in The Canberra City.    Oh no!

In the City, Models  Daniel Saunders & Sophie Luton riding in Glebe Park

This of course would be breaking the law and a $67 Infringement. Sad that this can only happen in the 'media world'. Though if you have a look around in the city there are many people not wearing helmets particularly around the Australian National University. In the ANU the speed limit for all roads is 40kmh or less making it much safer for bicycle riders and pedestrians.
When ever the Police go to enforce the Helmet Law they usually go to the ANU for easy pickings.A shame really. So what are the fines for bicycle use here in the ACT:

So using those regulations how many infringements would  be given in this Film by  Marc van Woudenberg(Amsterdamize),I wonder?


Marc's original home town was Houten , Holland  which is arguably the best designed city for the use of bicycles. Here he features in the video by Dublin Community TV (DCTV) and has some important points about helmets and safety.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bike vs Car, Canberra 2

Here is a great little film by Cameron Blyth  who for his School Project made this docomentary on :

''Should bikes be allowed to ride on the roads? Should they be licensed? Should they pay registration? Are motorists educated and aware enough of cyclists? Are cyclists educated and aware enough of motorists and road rules?
Everyone has an opinion, some express theirs more than others. I made this documentary to try and calm the waters between cyclists and motorists, and to give motorists and idea of what it's like to be a cyclist.

This argument seems to never end here in Australia. This video also features Brendan Nerdal from Pedal Power  who makes a good argument for segregated facilities, so maybe things are finally changing.


You can see ABC's Canberra Stateline, Bike v Cars story here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cycle Safety at Intersections

A Main Intersection close to where I live is receiving some Federal Government Blackspot funding to improve the intersection. Most major intersections in the ACT have 'free' left turn slip lanes. This is to help car drivers from waiting too long at intersections when turning left.

Statistically most road accidents happen at intersections like these involving motor vehicles ,motor cyclists, cyclists and pedestrians. So it is important that there is good design for all users.

This intersection in Woden ,most days it is certainly busy at peak times and very difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to manage. The Woden Town centre is located across the other side of this intersection. Poor design overall of the Woden Town centre has meant that a six lane highway surrounds the town centre block where the shopping centre,Office's, Cinema's and Clubs are located. One road on the north side has had its lanes reduced to four to accommodate cycle lanes though the distance crossing for pedestrians is the same. Most people tend to drive to the Town centre even though it is only a short distance of 1km or 2km for most Woden residents.

What makes this intersection unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists is the free left turn slip lanes as a pedestrian you have to cross the crossing an stand on a small island waiting for your green walk sign. You can wait for several minutes if you miss the traffic light sequence.
If you use the on road cycle lanes as a cyclist there is no physical protection on road speeds of Hindmarsh 80 - 60kmh and Melrose Dr 60 - 70 kmh . The cyclist on Hindmarsh Dr traveling east is between moving vehicles as the cars using the slip lanes turn left and cars going straight ahead. This will be the same on Melrose Dr under the new design.

Car's using the bike lane to turn left

Car blocking cycle lane on Melrose Dr intending to turn left

The ACT government intends to upgrade this intersection but will make it worse for Pedestrians and Cyclists, some slip lanes will be increased and the pedestrians and those cycling on paths will have to a s-bend at the intersection road medians.

People tend not to use this intersection to cross the road now, and cross at areas before an after this intersection which is illegal and unsafe. So this will become worst. There is enough room to construct pedestrian and cycle tunnels, but of course this will be at greater expense. A friend of mine who I have convinced that these slip lanes are dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists made a submission to ACT Roads on this intersection based on dutch intersection design principles.

The Left turn slip lanes have been removed  and the result is a much better design and much safer for all traffic. You cold still have on road cycle lanes though the best solution is to have separate infrastructure  at 'high speed-high volume' roads like these. ACT Roads would argue of course that this will slow up motor vehicle traffic in both directions, so we wait and see what their response is.

So how do the Dutch do it with the safest roads in the world? Here another great video form Mark Wagenbuur


Friday, November 19, 2010

Improved safety for Bicycle Riders!

No not improved bicycle infrastructure or reduced residential speed limits and just when you thought it was safe to go for a ride with your AS2063 1996 standard bicycle helmet ,a new Standard bicycle helmet, AS2063 2008, will be enforced from December 13th. The new helmets apparently increase safety ,because riding a bicycle is a dangerous activity! and Australian bicycle riders are so clumsy on bikes they need helmets to protect them from themselves.


These new helmets use a softer polystyrene in the shell, providing more cushioning for the brain, and use straps that will stretch sufficiently in an accident to allow the helmet to come off a rider's head; and also ensure sun visors have enough give so they don't twist a cyclist's head excessively when it hits the road.

So what's going to happen to the many thousand of the old bicycle helmets that have not been sold ? We could sell them to some other country I'd expect, promoting fear and the dangerous nature of riding a bike.


Spare a thought to the struggling Melbourne bike share that has just recently brought in a world,s first Automatic Bicycle Helmet dispensing machine, that subsidizes each helmet to the tune of $13 dollars.

Out with the old in with the new

A study by the Royal Prince Alfred (RPAH) hospital found that among 287 patients for whom information about helmet use was available between 2008 and 2010, non-helmet wearers had five times higher odds of developing intracranial bleeding or sustaining a skull fracture due to falling from a bicycle compared with helmet wearers.
“It is the opinion of the trauma service at the RPAH . . . that mandatory bicycle helmet laws be maintained and enforced as part of overall road safety strategies."

Lets not add in factors like road speed limits and safe bicycle infrastructure as any factors to the bicycle crashes in this study, Hey!

So while we wait for real cycle safety lets Keep the Fear Alive!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Right of Way in Canberra

One of the newest cycle paths in the ACT ,is the recently finished  Mouat street cycle path from Northbourne Ave to the Lyneham Sports centre.

 One of the features of this 1km cycle path,was not its cost of over a half a million dollars, but that it has two right of way crossings for pedestrians/cyclists. Generally cars have right of way over pedestrians and cyclists so these type of crossings are a rarity in Australia and are only in a handful of locations in the ACT ,the main one being De Burgh street in Lyneham. These right of way crossings are used to give cyclists priority over cars entering or leaving a sports ground car park.

Now if these were pedestrian crossings under Australian law the cyclist would have to dismount and then walk the bike across. This is the law in many European cities including the Netherlands. That's why you see a cycle crossing next to a pedestrian crossing so that both the cyclist and pedestrian have right of way.

While I would like to see more of these type of crossings ACT Roads is tentatively installing right of way crossings for cyclists on low volume intersections, usually at driveway crossings such as at Mouat street and in very low traffic streets in residential areas. But I would argue that the car should give way more often to promote more walking and cycling. Being stuck in the middle of a busy intersection isn't much fun.

Here is another great video from Mark Wagenbuur with a right of way crossing in the Netherlands, s-Hertogenbosch, at a dual carriageway intersection. Most of the cyclists are secondary school children cycling home from school. The speed limit on this dual carriageway is 50 km/h. Mopeds are allowed to use the cycle paths which is a contentious issue in the Netherlands.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bicycle music video interlude 4

Here is the lovely Lily Allen riding her bike. She has been doing it a bit tough lately so best wishes from Bicycle Canberra.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

One less bike path

With the announcement that the Adelaide City Council will be removing the Sturt street segregated bike lane, this will come as a blow to improving infrastructure for cyclists.

ABC online Reports: residents and business owners in Sturt Street in Adelaide say they are happy to see workers removing a controversial city cycling lane.
The separated lane with concrete edging cost Adelaide City Council $400,000 to build and is now costing another $100,000 to remove.There had been many complaints that it had removed city parking and that cyclists avoided using it anyway.
As a supporter of this type of infrastructure this is certainly a disappointment, this will make the case harder in the future for segregated facilities in Adelaide if this is the example used.
So what went wrong I wonder?  The loss of parking is always a juggling act when installing such facilities. Australia is a car culture that won't change its ways overnight. So if you can keep as much car parking in the early stages as possible the better it will be received.

This was how the Street looked before the cycle track. The road is certainly wide enough to accommodate such a lane. The road could easily accommodate two way traffic, parking on both sides and a cycletracks (Copenhagen style lanes).
Source: City of Portland,
But having said that, is this the road for such a facility , does it have high traffic volumes? is it's speed limit 60 km/h and above, what is the cycle lane connecting to ? .All these questions should have been asked at the planning stage. This road connects to the main arterial road the West Terrace, which is five lanes on each side in some parts. I would be putting the Copenhagen style lanes there before Sturt street.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Canberra Walk's the Walk.

On Monday our, recently returned from holiday, Chief Minister signed the international charter for walking. The Walk 21 International Charter is...

This charter was signed by the Chief Minister coincidental in Canberra's first pedestrianized street of City Walk/Garema place/Petrie plaza in Civic.This road was pedestrianized in 1971 at a time when other world cities were doing the same. The city centre through the 50's and 60's became congested as everybody started using their vehicle for short trips into the city rather than using the bike as they did just a decade before.

The city centre full of cars in the 1950's with little space left for Pedestrians and cyclists.

Garema Place was the first to see this transformation with this picture from 1965

Petrie street ,how it looked in the early 1960's

Petrie Street now turned into Petrie plaza as it looked then in 1975
                                                                                                             Petrie Plaza as it looks today

City Walk as it was in the late 1970's after the street was closed to traffic.........

.........and as it looks now.

View Larger Map

Many of the businesses that used to be thriving in this pedestrian space have now closed down because of a down turn in business. This happened because the ACT government let a developer build a huge extension to the shopping mall right next to Bunda street, thus sucking the life out of the pedestrian street. Most of the stores have now relocated to the mall, as well as the cinemas and food cafe's.

About 58 streets in Australia were turned into pedestrian streets in the 70's and 80's and about 48 remain today. some of the reason's for  re opening the street to traffic sited the same reasons as what has happened in Civic. It is usually the fault of many local governments for the reason that pedestrian spaces have failed lets hope the same fate doesn't happen in the Civic. I rather be outside than in a huge shopping mall.

Just imagine if they built a shopping Mall in Copenhagen or in many of the cities in Holland right next to pedestrian streets or shared streets.

Monday, November 1, 2010

JackAss cycling!

That's the only way to describe it. Maybe that's what vehicular cyclists dream of doing in a weird kind of way.

This Trailer is part of The Bike Film festival in Sydney on November 17 - 21. These cyclists will never be content on a segregated bike path,' its the buzz of going for the gap ', 'being at one with the car!'. What ever you call it, all cyclists here get tarnished with this brush.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Canberra Bans Plastic Shopping bags!

Well not all plastic bags as it turns out. There is a mirrored of views on this subject, like: 'I reuse them for bin liners' ,'People will have to buy plastic bags for bin liners', and that 'reusable bags will cause cross contamination for the checkout operators'. I wonder what we did before plastic bags?  People are just lazy these days and don't like change.

I like this video by the Save the Bay (San Francisco) action group and it also features someone on a bike....

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The SUV's of Holland & Denmark

We know that SUV's are the biggest seller of Motor vehicles in Australia, It is also said that you can't take 3 or 4 kids to school and go to work on you bike, or can you...............

and here in Denmark...........

They are now available in Australia

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Perfect day for a Ride

Perfect day to ride home from school, on one of the better cycle paths in Canberra we took a nice casual ride home......

and met some school kids riding the other way.....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The 'War' against Childhood Obesity

The Productivity Commission has released a study into childhood obesity and the various programs and costs associated to help reduce its prevalence. Its conclusion is that these programs overall are having little impact on reducing the levels of childhood obesity.

Canberra Times

There have been several issues raised by various studies as has been highlighted in this report, basically an increase in high energy dense foods and the lack of physical exercise especially in 'incidental exercise' like walking and cycling to school. No surprises there ,you only have to look at the number of bike s in the bike racks at various schools here in the ACT to know that. Back in the day when I attended primary school the bike racks were full, so what has happened over this period of thirty to forty years,. The parents now who were walking and cycling to school are now driving there kids to school.

The perception of safety has become a big issue for most, something that Leonore Skenazy is trying to dispel in her blog ' Free Range Kids'. The ACT is a relatively safe place to ride a bike ,even for school children and even before Mandatory Helmet Laws. Residential road speeds remain quite high compared to European countries as our default speed is 50km/h with some shared zone speeds at 10km/h though rare. That's something we will need to look at if we want to encourage more cycling and walking and also to achieve Vision zero.

Before my kids started school I was not aware of the change in attitudes to local schools and there importance for the fabric of the local community. When the School Closures was announced I received a copy of the report relating to a question that Deb Foskey ( former Greens MLA) asked the newly appointed Education Minister Andrew Barr MLA.Which looked at the number of children within each priority enrollment area (living close to the school) and the schools that they attended.While some schools had low enrollments most of the children in the local area weren't going to the locals schools, but being driven to other schools further away. I like to call them the 'drive-thru' schools. In fact some of these schools, have most of there enrollments from out of area, rather than local children. At morning drop off and pickup there is major congestion. 

We also spend millions on school buses to ferry kids around which is heavily subsidized by the ACT Taxpayer and also in NSW, the School buses are free, which is argued that it reduces congestion, though does nothing for active transport. Parental choice in schooling has been the major factor why children are not walking and cycling to school. The Education performance of the school certainly out ways any health and community benefit ,of attending the local school in most parents minds these days.

Australia now matches the US in childhood obesity levels, though other reports have US Childhood obesity levels at one third of children. In any event a worrying statistic. Note the cycling culture countries of the Netherlands and Denmark, you could also add in Belgium and Sweden. I know that Denmark has been concerned about there childhood obesity levels at there current levels, but has now declined amongst most age groups.

While diet is an important factor particularly the consumption of fast foods and sugary drinks. The importance of physical exercise, like walking and cycling to and from school needs more attention from the relevant authorities. The recent Pedestrian and cycle network review only focused on cycling to work. Cycling kids become cycling adults ,infrastructure supporting cycling and walking to school needs to be funded also.
This video highlights the dominance of the car in the ACT and what Holland has been doing to reduce the dominance of the car.

and a video from David Hembrow's blog of cycling to school in Assen, Holland .

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Intergrated Transport

Bike & Ride or Multi-mode transportation is something of a rarity in Australia and hardly ever promoted ,yet this is a normal thing to do in Holland and Denmark. Because of the spread out nature of Australian cities, this can be a viable option as distances to and from work can be beyond the average bicycle rider. This creates the active city as opposed to the other option Park(car) and ride which is expensive and uses a much larger area.

Bikes parked at an old sign near a bus stop
The bus stop above is a classic example, people on their bikes that want to use such a facility are limited by what you can lock your bike to, some simple bike racks/rails would do. There is some facilities at larger Bus stations but you are limited to some bike lockers and a few rails the lockers until recently you had to pay for.

Civic Interchange bike lockers

The problem with lockers is that if you have a basket, child seats or a non standard bike they wont fit. I think they look unsightly, I guess if your riding a couple of thousand dollars worth of bike, then a bike locker is the way to go,but when your simply biking and riding, maybe a cheaper bike is the option.

In the Netherlands you can see the options available ,and in some of the bigger parking facilities the only trouble you have is in trying to find a park and remembering where you left it.

Underground bike parking,Groningen. David Hembrow

Bike parking at Bus stop

Bike parking at train station
School Bike parking, David Hembrow

Hospital Bike parking, David Hembrow
One of the best bike parking facilities that I have seen in Canberra, is in the new Siruis building in Woden, a two level bike parking facility for about a 100 bicycles. The Architect who is also designing the replacement building behind the new Sirius building will also have a bike parking facilitiy for another 270 bicycles. This obviously helps with the buildings green star rating, and secure facilities like these also encourage this use of cycling to work as well.

Electronic Key card entry
Ground level parking, Siruis Building

What is needed is the infrastructure connecting the town centre to be upgraded. Though I didn't see this underpass on the recent priority list announcement.

Shared path underpass,with unsafe barrier.