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.


Evan said...

Interesting to see a video commentary on bike paths I have ridden a few times. I think Canberra's bike paths are reasonably good - not great - but good by Australian standards. Your video highlights the main difficulty with the Canberra model, which is where bike paths cross roads. Either there's no allowance for cyclists (and cars always have right of way as in the T-intersection), or there's a pedestrian crossing where cyclists are legally required to dismount to cross (an absurdity and hardly ever complied with). It should be a small thing to fix this, to give cyclists on bike paths right of way when crossing side roads, or installing bike crossing signals. A lot of the infrastructure exists but it is missing some small things to make it usable. Being a cyclist on Canberra bike paths feels like being 'neither fish nor fowl', never having right of way and being prohibited from legally using pedestrian crossings.

The Duck Herder said...

Hello there fellow ONC*ian cyclist. It is so lovely to find your blog - its great. And lovely to find other Canberra cyclists here as well.

Look forward to reading more!

*ONC = Our Nation's Capital

Anonymous said...

In the Canberra ride to school footage at 0:56 you make the comment about crossing the driveway - no right of way here. Check your ACT road rules but I think you'll find that's incorrect. Under Aust Road Rules (only a guide) & most states, rules 72-74 relate to giving way at intersections and driveways. Read them carefully in conjunction with the definitions of a road reserve and a vehicle. Any vehicle moving between the road reserve and property has to give way specifically to pedestrians on paths but also to "vehicles in the road reserve" which includes a bicycle on a pathway. The problem is that we have had generations of people who were taught as kids to "look 3 times & always give way to cars". While that was prudent for safety, in may cases the pedestrians and cyclists do actually have right of way but the kids grow up to become motorists that still think cars always have right of way. Even at street intersections pedestrians and bicycles on pathways often do have right of way but most drivers just don't know the real road rules & fail to give way. In the video you can see there is actually a giveway line that shows drivers are required to give way as they come out of the development. (The ramps don't look correct for Disability Access either & hence are in breach of the Disability Discrimination Act.) To make it clear the builder really should have kept the footpath level and ramped the driveway up and over the footpath. The way we currently design intersections keeping the black bitumen constant & "dominant" around the intersection with the concrete path severed & "subservient" makes it look like "dominant" cars have the right of way and the "subservient" pedestrians on the severed path have to giveway. Instead we should be designing intersections like Europe and keeping the footpath as the constant dominate feature as shown in the Netherlands film. In Japan, they often have zebra crosings with bike lanes beside them across the side streets to make it clear that cars have to give way to everyone.

Anonymous said...

Again at 3:19, you state that cars have right of way but under intersection giveway rules 72 & 73 pedestrians have right of way (a dismounted bike rider is a pedestrian) and I argue that even a bike rider riding across at the pathway has right of way. It's really no different to if you were on the on-road bike lane where most drivers understand they have to wait for the bike to clear the intersection. (& that's why it's often actually safer to use the bike lanes instead of off-road paths esecially for children who are not good at looking for cars coming behind and turning left.) Under rules 72 & 73 the cars coming out clearly have to give way "all vehicles in the road reserve" which includes a bicycle on a pathway. Again the problem is that common belief is not what the road rules actually say and I bet even most police and judges get that wrong.

Anonymous said...

The Dutch video is good and I'd love to see compulsary pedestrian and bicycle training in our schools AND make it a prerequisite to getting a car drivers licence. If I was Australian dictator.......