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'Would you believe Canberra has repealed its Helmet Laws' ,well no, but if you were reading the Canberra Times 'In the City' lift out you might think so.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.