Thursday, September 23, 2010

Helmet Hypocrisy!

The bicycle helmet debate is continuing to gain media coverage , the latest being the ABC Radio Background Briefing story just this week. There was an opportunity to highlight the issues that mandatory helmet laws have created in this country and that is the culture of fear.
Is riding a bicycle dangerous ? Now that depends on several factors, though the law is generic in its term for bicycle riders like the 'cyclist shall wear an approved helmet when riding a two wheeled pedal vehicle'.

Riding your bike can be dangerous if used in the following manner:

Using your bike at the Skate park

Mountain Bike Racing

BMX racing

Road Racing

Also the danger can be created by poor infrastructure that puts the bike rider in proximity to heavy objects moving at fast speeds, these include unprotected bicycle lanes on 'high speed high volume' roads. During the interview on the Background Briefing story ,the doctor that had been recording cyclists accidents at the RPA(Royal Prince Alfred Hospital), stated that there is a significant difference between cyclists that had been wearing a helmet and those that hadn't. Though from further reading on the RPA's submission to the Inquiry vulnerable road users ,42% of Accidents presented at the hospital involved road vehicles. Why have we in this country ignored the building of safe infrastructure and allowed our officials to risk the lives of so many.

Sydney, M4 motorway

Now I'm not getting in to the debate that a bicycle helmet can cause greater brain injury or not ,I will leave that to the experts. What is clear is that helmets haven't made riding your bike safer in terms of cycling accidents and deaths. In this country we have 35 deaths and several hundred serious accidents and when you compare this to the Netherlands where 7 people are killed and about hundred seriously injured and they don't wear helmets and there cycling rates are significantly higher.

The mandatory helmet laws in this country have provided an excuse for poorly designed infrastructure that puts the cyclist at extreme danger on high speed - high volume roads with just a painted line for separation. The argument that we can't afford to build separated cycleways is nonsense.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bicycle music video interlude 2

The Bike Song - Mark Ronson! Catchy!


Monday, September 20, 2010

In the Ideal world!

Some time ago I had an email conversion with the head of ACT roads about the type of infrastructure we are currently building on our major arterial roads and the type of users that it would attract. His commet was,

"In the ideal world you would have a separate off road / direct cycle only network as well as a pedestrian only network but in practice Canberra has not been planned like this and the opportunity to do so has been lost and even if it was argued it still remained it would be at a cost that the Territory could not sustain."



I wonder what the ideal world would look like:


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Canberra's Cycleway's

While I have been a strong critic of on-road cycle lanes on 'High speed high volume roads', you do have the option to cycle on some  good quality cycle paths, if they are going to your destination.

This cycle way is near a major arterial road which has a 80km/h speed limit. Pedal Power wants to continue the on-road cycle lane policy and have a cycle lane on this road without any protection. You have to wonder why with such a good cycleway .The only problems is that it is a shared path and there is no lighting at night. Having adequate lighting is a must and several of Canberra's cycleways do not have adequate lighting.

Here is the cycle path on the other side of the road ,which has recently been resurfaced. Also no lighting ,and in winter it can get dark before 5pm ,which is usually the start of peak hour traffic (car) ,so only the keen cyclist rides at these times in the winter months, usually lit up like a Christmas tree with a high vis-vest or spray jacket.
It can get quite cold also in the winter with nights around minus five degrees Celsius  and temperatures staying below double figures during the day. But when you look at what people in colder climates cycle through, I guess we shouldn't complain too much!

Cycling through a snow storm ,Copenhagen
Cycling to school ,in Assen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sydney Cycleways

The construction of Sydney's Cycleways has the concern of several right wing conservative newspaper journalists and radio shock jocks. While I haven't cycled on them yet, I have been a big supporter of this type of infrastructure as a good way to retrofit existing cities and increase modal share. Sadly a few die hard lycra cyclists are complaing about the cycleways aswell.

Sydney is the city that really hates cyclists particularly on roads and amongst traffic. You will not increase modal share just by installing bike lanes without reducing speeds or having some physical protection. If you look at other world cities with considerably higher cycling rates separation is the key ingredient to promote cycling. Design is critical particularly at intersections as this is the greatest area of conflict.

Now maybe some of the cycleways aren't wide enough from some of the photo's I've seen and are some of the arguments by some cyclists, but when you are taking your family for a ride into the city or taking your child to school or you you just don't feel safe riding on 'High speed -High volume' roads then separation is what is required.

Many other cities have this style of cycleways, and you don't hear their cyclists complaining :

Montreal, Canada

London, England

Budapest, Hungry

Seville, Spain

Manhattan, New York
and of course ,but not always the design choice in Holland and Denmark:

Copenhagen, Denmark (

Assen, Holland (
Here is a recent ABC Stateline NSW story, on the cycleways issue, aptly named "Lycra Lunacy" ,WTF?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hogues back in Australia

Paul Hogan one of Australia's Famous exports ,the one that brought that famous line in Crocodile Dundee ,"Thats not a knife, now that's a knife'. Has been having a bit of trouble with the Australian Tax Office lately about some unpaid tax bills. Something in the order of $150 million dollars at its worst.

So why am I reporting it here, I hear you ask, well before doing the Croc movies he had his own comedy show called , yes you guest it' The Paul Hogan show' a skit show with some memorable characters like 'Arthur Dunger' , 'Bluey the Gut' and 'Leo Wanker'.

Here is a skit I found the other day on You tube ,you can see why the aurthorities here think riding your bike is a dangerous activity! Don't forget to sing along !

Cargo bikes in Canberra

I spotted this Zigo the other day at Cooleman Court in Weston Creek. I think that this is the bike I will get when I sell my other car. 


Yes we are a two car family at the moment! I could make a lot of excuses here ,' like Canberra is two spread out and the public transport isn't very good' but I won't. We have bought a family car recently as we have four children, so it is a seven seater. The Kia Rondo which is the smallest in its class and the most economic according to the NRMA

So getting back to the cargo bikes ,In Australia and Canberra, many families have the tag-a-long as they are considerably  less expensive than the bucket style of cargo bike that you see in Holland and Denmark. Here is Laura, a friend of mine form SEE Change ,on our way back from the farmers market in Woden.

You can see here,riding next to a main arterial road . It has bike lanes but no physical protection, so we stuck to the 1.2 metre wide shared path here. Some of Canberra's infrastructure doesn't support family cycling very well.

According to some of the resellers in Australia of cargo bikes, Canberra is a big market for them, though I haven't seen many about. Many people argue that you can't take your kids to school by bike or do your shopping by bike here in Canberra, and that you have to use a car.

But if you look at what is available, all is needed is the infrastructure to support it.

The Bakfiets two wheeler Cargo Bike,they do a three wheel version as well.

            The Christiania Cargo Bike

The Kangaroo, by Winther. I suppose I should get this one being Australian.
I wonder why they called it a Kangaroo ,the smaller two wheeler is also nicknamed  after a native animal the wallyroo!



Yes the Prince of Denmark with his children ,and there is and Australian connection of course.

While price might sway my decision ,all I know is that I want one!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

This is Amsterdam and This is my Bike!

Velocity Copenhagen, a miss for Canberra

The Velo-city (bicycle planning) conference was held in Copenhagen this year and disappointingly the ACT Government decided not to send any one from the ACT to this conference. I have been recent critic of the current bicycle infrastructure of cycle lanes on 'High speed-High volume' roads in Canberra, which is going against worlds best practice, particularly in Holland and Denmark, the worlds cycling nations. 

About a thousand people attended the conference and well over a hundred people from the American cities, they have now realized that current bicycle lanes on major roads do very little to encourage more people to cycle.

Monaro Highway, Canberra ACT

This type of treatment has been the feature of current bicycle planning, it is cheap and nasty. Sadly the Bicycle advocacy group of the ACT Pedal Power have been supportive of this infrastructure even though it supports only one type of cyclist.

It is said that the ACT cannot afford separate cycle infrastructure even though we continue to spend millions of dollars every year on more and more roads. With the future un-certain with peak oil and the rise in health care costs related to obesity, those arguements just do not stack up.

So to Streefilms great video of the recent Velocity conference shot by the Clarence Eckerson Jr. One of the comments made in this film was that while Copenhagen made decisions early on to support cycle friendly infrastructure, countries like America and Australia need to implement this type of infrastructure much quicker than the thirty odd years it has taken Copenhagen.