Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bowen Underpass delayed

The NCA brings word that due to unforeseen works needed at Scrivener Dam, the Bowen place underpass will now be delayed until 2014.The NCA due to cutbacks has had to carefully budget for works in the parliamentary triangle and Lake Burley Griffin area but could find a revenue stream by introducing pay parking.

A large majority of Canberra's public servants work in the parliamentary triangle that drive rather than using public transport or cycle.

View Larger Map

The ACT government doesn't have jurisdiction over the Parliamentary triangle which is controlled by the Australian Government agency the National Capital Authority (NCA). They have held numerous consultations on introducing pay parking but has yet to implement it. Canberra has some of the cheapest car parking rates in the world at just under $7 dollar a day average  across the city. Building car-parks is not a cheap exercise so what is the true econimic cost?

Donald Shoup professor of urban planning at UCLA, California, USA describes the issues here:

He has also written a book about it as well.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Unrealistic cycling culture advertising

Several ads in the print media and consumer products  always seem to show a cycling culture that is unrealistic in Australia with many adds continually showing helmet-less riders.
Recipe  Ad.

Cereal Ad.

Real estate Ad.
 ...and who can forget this issue of the In the City last summer :

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bowen place 'Underpass'

The Canberra Times is reporting that the final design for the Bowen Street underpass has been release for comment by the NCA. Originally they were looking at a bridge(overpass) and was the preffered option  by many respondents to the three designs. The undetrpass was not considered as an option originally but has now been considered as the preferred option as it wont impede on those pesky site lines in the Palimentry triangle.

At last a government agency has taken pedestrians and cyclists seriously for once. The same can't be said for the same agencies response to the Kings Ave overpass which has created poor crossing facilities and infrastructure for
pedestrians and cyclists.
Kings Ave overpass ,cost: $32 million
There is no grade separation for pedestrians and cyclists except for the cyclist riding on an unprotected cycle lane under the bridge. This originally was a three lane roundabout with a high number of accidents so an overpass was a necessary, but it could have been designed better so pedestrians and cyclists are completed separated with grade separation at crossing points.

This intersection in Bogota' shows a different design that keeps the roundabout but with grade separation for  traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. Certainly a 'win win' solution.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Embassy's of Cycling

Canberra is no stranger to embassy's given that Canberra is the national capital of Australia ( a trivia question that many people overseas get wrong) as we have embassy's from countries all over the world.
In the Netherlands they have just launched the Dutch cycling embassy modeled on the Danish cycling embassy which has been going for a few years now.
The aim of these embassies is to bring together the experts like government organisations, non government organisations, consultants and planning experts to promote cycling and communicate cycling solutions. A one stop shop for cycling advocates.
Great Britain has also formed a cycling embassy which would operate differently advising organisations in their own country on the benefits of cycling and cycling infrastructure from knowledge gained from other countries, like the Netherlands. This is important given the demise of Cycling for England .

So to the worlds cycling experts of the Dutch Cycling Embassy, and the excellent video produced and narrated by Amsterdamize 's Marc Van Woudenberg. Lets hope our Government gets in contact soon.   

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Helmet freedom at Last!

Well, only if your playing Bike polo it seems or if you are over the age of 17 living in the Northern Territory. This article on ABC online caught my attention. Bike Polo is starting to become a popular sport, having been introduced here from the United States.

I'd say it won't be too long before the powers that be will start to enforce those pesky mandatory helmet laws.
Sadly it is still making the news with  the usual  for and against on whether the law should stay.
This was in the local weekly mag. , having a go at Canberra cyclists not stopping at red lights and not wearing helmets. Now we wouldn't want riding a bike to appear dangerous now would we. People might actually stop riding a bikes!

I wonder what she would make of those silly dangerous cyclists in other countries that don't have Mandatory Helmet Laws.



Monday, September 19, 2011

Australia's Best Cycling City Award!

Now wouldn't that be a good idea. Australia has awards for tidy towns but as I'm aware nothing that recognises a city or town on its cycle friendliness. The CPF has annual awards that does recognise towns though it is more of a local government award. But a national award and title that gives a city or town recognition on the work and funding a city provides to promote cycling would create competition and a willingness by some local governments to invest more in cycle facilities.

Maybe the CPF and the Australian bicycle council could consider this and look to the example of Fietsbond in the Netherlands on the annual Fietsstad with this years feature on cycling to schools in each of the five cities nominated.

Here a couple of those lesser known cities (to Australians).



In the latest Pedestrian and Cycle review for Canberra, the study was only looking at commuting and not cycling routes to schools. Maybe awards like this can help to improve the overall thinking in Australia on what makes a cycle friendly city, one that includes all aspects of cycling not just commuting or cycle racing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Survey results, Territories lead States

A survey conducted for the Australian Bicycle Council and Austroads finds that the Territories lead the States in bicycle participation rates. 'The survey was a telephone interview conducted with a random selection of households across Australia. The interviews were conducted during March and April 2011. A total of 9,661
households consisting of 24,858 individuals were interviewed, consisting of around 0.11% of the Australian resident population. Respondents were asked when they and other members of their household had last ridden a bicycle, and if in the past week, how often and for what purposes they had ridden.'
Overall the ACT was second to Northern Territory in terms of participation and transport:

The ACT leads the Australian average on modes of cycling transport for which recreation which is the main reason why people cycle.

Commuting comes next followed by education and shopping. If we were to compare it with the Netherlands we would find a different set of statistics:
Education is by far the highest proportion ,followed by recreational , shopping and commuter travel.

Now these are only survey responses and the ABS census data which was held last month will get a better sense of bicycle use over the last 5 years sadly it won't include education or over uses except travel to work.
There has been far too much focus on commuting rather the overall population in Canberra and the focus needs to be on infrastructure that the majority can use rather the the strong and fearless. The overwhelming statistic from this survey shows the the highest participation in bicycle use is in children an teenagers, so why aren't  we building better infrastructure for them?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Infrastructure : Left Turn Slip lanes

One of the many Car friendly infrastructure Australia has, is the free left turn slip lanes that allow motor vehicles to make a left turn at an intersection without stopping at the signalised intersection or T intersection.

Not so friendly for pedestrians and cyclists. As a cyclist riding on the shared path you are required to dismount at these slip lane crossings and walk beside your bike across the intersection as is the law. If your riding on the cycle lane at these intersections, you are put in a dangerous situation by having to ride in a cycle lane in between motor vehicles. These are marked in green and have mentioned them before.

So what are the solutions if Canberra are truly to become a cycle friendly city as some may claim, well you wouldn't be forcing those riding their bicycles to dismount of cycle in between fast moving traffic.
As it is unlikely in the near future to have separate crossings for cyclists( those riding on shared paths) and pedestrians a solution that is used in other countries of marking a cycle lane next to the pedestrian crossing could be considered.

Possible Cycle lane crossing


Barcelona, Spain

Another solution would be to have a shared path crossing, which could look like this............

Possible shared path crossing

Australia has adopted a lime green or green colour to mark its cycle infrastructure at crossing junctions for some reason (except Perth) , in Denmark and London its blue, and Germany and Holland its red. The paint is quite expensive and is used only at intersections where conflicts between cyclists and motor vehicles may (and do)occur.
In Sydney they have marked some of their separated cycle paths completely in green, this is despite the Australian Bicycle Council recommending that colour to mark cycle lanes and paths should only be used sparingly as motor vehicle drivers will get too used to the colour and may ignore them. This from a council that is primarily made up of road/traffic engineers.

Sydney's separated cycle paths

I wonder if the Australian bicycle Council has ever been to the Netherlands............


Anyway, I am told that the Australian road rules maintenance group are opposed to such crossings, so cyclists will continue to be treated as second class citizens. Though a discussion paper by the Roads Transport Authority (RTA) NSW has suggested such a new type of crossing, that may not require cyclists to dismount. So we can only hope that common sense will prevail.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Promotion of Cycling

The City of Sydney is once again showing the rest of the country how to promote cycling culture with its new cycling infrastructure and promotion videos.





When the ACT government started installing Cycle lanes a few years ago there was little if any promotion but rather a warning to motorists,which is important. But many people in the community see cyclists usually in Lycra, male and between  the 30 - 50 age group, and having cycle lanes on major arterial roads not that  welcoming.
There's know doubt there has been a increase in ridership on these lanes but just imagine if we had listen to the experts and installed infrastructure that the majority of the community could use.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Mix of Infrastructure

A recently rode my younger son to swimming lessons on the weekend and filmed the ride. This video highlights the good and the bad infrastructure we have here in Canberra.


There's no doubt that Canberra has some good cycle paths, but it could be a whole lot better..............


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bicycle Music Video Interlude 7

Bicycle Music video animation, Lanu - Fall feat. Megan Washington 


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bicycle infrastructure for all!

On a recent expedition to an indoor playground against my better judgement by nagging children who didn't want to ride to the local playground, I noticed a family with children riding along a busy highway in the shoulder, which is being upgraded at the moment.

This highway has speed limits ranging from100km/h to 80km/h and I had general concerns particularly coming up to a bridge were the road narrows and the shoulder disappears.

You may think the parents are doing a good job here of educating their children about riding on marked shoulders on 'high speed high volume' roads as a good thing. Depending on there destination there is no excuse for children riding on these type of roads. There is generally a safer solution than riding on cycle lanes with children, either on their own bikes or in child carrying seats.

ACT roads have commissioned a Pedestrian and Cycle Design course for engineers, designers and planners recently which they say 'provides a comprehensive coverage of basic engineering treatments for cycling and pedestrian provision'.
While this course was specifically designed for Canberra's current infrastructure polices there is a few areas of concern. Take for instance 'Designing for the Community' There are seven broad cyclist user types - primary school children, secondary school children, recreational riders, commuters riders, utility riders, touring bicycle riders and sports/training riders' . 'What type of facility one user group may want, or prefer, is determined by a wide range of issues. ' For example, secondary school children who would normally prefer to ride on footpaths during their journey to school, may prefer to travel on road in bike lanes should good bicycle rout and intersection facilities exist and the riders are trained in correct road user behaviour.

It the ACT there is no cycle proficiency tests for school students particularly for the last year of  primary school and as the majority of cycle lanes are on 'high speed high volume roads' this is a concern for the well being of children, one the the ACT government doesn't fully understand.
Cycle lanes are good on low volume low speed environments that provide designated areas for cyclists on existing roads and are also used by school students in other countries.

There are cycle lanes on low speed low volume roads in Canberra in the 'mish mash' planned town of Gungahlin. Though some of these lanes look like an afterthought  when they could have built good quality cycle infrastructure from the start.

Though both of these roads are at 60km/h and wouldn't give many parents the confidence to let their children ride on these roads to school. maybe secondary children could use these roads safely if they had the cycle proficiency training.  A Separated cycle path could easily have been fitted given the width of the road median and natural strips. Many students would like to ride together and this type of infrastructure doesn't allow for that unlike in other places.........

Mark Wagenbuur

This type of infrastructure can be used by everyone in the community not just the strong and fearless.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why Can't They Be Like We Were?

Great little film about kids riding their bikes around  in Australia 1976, and the lack of things to do in an inner city environment. I used to have a chopper bike like this to ride to and from school, it was my pride and joy.


You wouldn't see kids riding around like this today, sadly.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Getting Ready for Battle

Is this what is needed to ride safely in Australian cities now days. While I have taken liberties by adding a shield and sword shouldn't we have infrastructure that makes riding a bike feel safe.

When it comes to cycle safety many people state their own experience and don't think about the community as a whole.While we have low rates of cycling in this country, many cycle advocacy groups sometimes make the mistake of just representing their members and not looking at the potential cyclists or future cyclists.
Like many cities in Australia, Canberra has a group of devoted cyclists or bike riders, but there are many that only ride for recreation or for sport and wouldn't commute because of safety issues or the perceived safety issues as some would say.
Canberra's cyclists used to look like this......

The head of ACT Roads while being a cyclist believes that our current infrastructure of cycle lanes on 'high speed high volume roads' is fine for the 'elite commuter cyclist' but there are many in the community that wouldn't agree. You could categorised the Canberra community as a whole for cycling like this.
There would be many in Canberra that would cycle more if there were the facilities to do so, particularity around our car congested town centres and schools.
This photo captures the joy of commuting or cycling to a destination in Copehagen.......
Now you couldn't do that on a 1.5m bike lane on one of the many Canberra arterial roads. In the recent Copenhagen Bicycle Account 2008 the cyclist sense of safety rated only a 5 out 10 and that's with cycle tracks, a physically separated curb which is your standard Copenhagen style lane.

While there are better examples of physical separation in Copenhagen the Dutch certainly do it best. Isn't time that Canberra started implementing international best practice and not short sighted tokenism.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Driver Found Guilty

Obviously these warnings do very little
From the Canberra Times:

Cyclist's death: driver guilty

02 Jun, 2011 06:41 AM
A Canberra driver had an obligation to avoid a collision with a cyclist that led to the latter's death, an ACT magistrate found yesterday. The Fadden man was found guilty of failing to keep an adequate lookout for the cyclist, leading to the collision which caused the rider's death last year.
James Keenan, 61, died in hospital last February after spending a fortnight in intensive care with head injuries after the crash on Sternberg Crescent in Wanniassa.( He was wearing a bicycle helmet)
The cyclist fell to the road after colliding with the side of a turning Mitsubishi Evolution driven by Rhys Wilkins, who pleaded not guilty to negligent driving causing Mr Keenan's death.
Both the prosecution and Wilkins' lawyer argued the other party had a duty of care at the time of the fateful incident at the intersection of Sternberg Crescent and Ashley Drive.
Defence lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith argued the cyclist should have given way to the turning car and slowed down approaching the intersection.
But the prosecution submitted the 36-year-old driver should have taken more care while overtaking the cyclist and turning the corner.
Magistrate Lorraine Walker ultimately found Wilkins, having seen and overtaken the cyclist, had an obligation to keep a watchful eye out for the other party.
The defendant was suspended from holding a driver's licence at the time.
The ACT Magistrates Court heard Wilkins, who was not under the influence of alcohol and was not alleged to have been speeding, was travelling west on Sternberg Crescent on January 29.
The defendant told the court he was on his way to the shops and spotted Mr Keenan riding his bike close to the curb towards the Ashley Drive intersection.

View Large Map
Wilkins said he moved to overtake the bicycle, indicated, slowed and turned left on to Ashley Drive.
At some point before turning the corner he lost sight of Mr Keenan.
''I felt something, I looked in my rear-view mirror, and I saw a guy tumbling over the road,'' he told Ms Walker at an earlier hearing.
But the magistrate noted Wilkins never mentioned looking behind him, in his rear-view mirror or over his left shoulder as he prepared to negotiate the turn.
She said it was open to infer, on the evidence before her, the cyclist was travelling close behind the overtaking car when Wilkins took the corner. She was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt the driver failed to keep a lookout and fell below the duty of care expected of a prudent driver.
The defendant is expected to appeal. Wilkins is on strict bail conditions, which include banning him from driving a vehicle.
He is due back in court for a sentencing hearing in August.

Do we need to change some of our Laws?


Monday, May 30, 2011

A Tale of Two cities.

A Tale of two cities, one that continues to see cycling in a negative way and another embracing them , well sort of.

The story featured on Perths 7.30 Report last Friday.


What more can you say about our crap infrastructure in Australia and those 'Middle Aged Men In Lycra' MAMILs.

Though Sydney seems to be moving in the right direction with this recent video from Sydney City Council, on the opening of the Bourke Street Cycleway


Well done Sydney, and of course Clover Moore!.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Walk Safely to School

The 20th of May was National Walk Safely to school Day. This day is organised by the Pedestrian Council of Australia to promote road safety for school children and physical activity. The rates of walking and cycling to school have dropped dramatically in the country since the 70's and 80's partly due to a number of factors one being the perceived issues around road safety.

The pedestrian council states that until a child reaches the age of 10 years ,then they must cross a road holding the hand (supervised) of an adult. Now given our relatively high traffic speed limits in residential areas (50km/h) then many would agree that is is a good idea. I note that another organisation, Kidsafe have suggested that 12 years is and ideal age because they can't judge speed and distance of Cars traveling on road. In this article where a child was pushing a pram onto a slip lane pedestrian crossing, was hit by a light truck that didn't give way. Clearly the driver was at fault and also the  poor design of intersections like these with slip lanes. What was Kidsafe's response ,that the children, in not so many words were at fault :

Children being in charge of other children is not an ideal situation. It’s very dangerous.’’

What price is mobility that would be safe for children. The child would have been told that at a Pedestrian crossing that motor vehicles have to give way. Yet to be sure you have to make sure that the driver comes to a complete stop before crossing, as many don't. But at a slip lane crossing, motor vehicle drivers are supposed to look left and right virtually at the same time which makes it dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists let alone children.

These national day's like 'National ride 2 School day' which I recently wrote about  do little to increase active transport to schools, but only to remind us in someway of a time when the majority of children used to walk and cycle to school. The mere term of walk 'SAFELY to school implies that walking can be dangerous so while many parents walk their children one or two days a year maybe or walk in 'walking school buses' really has no affect at all but to reiterate how unsafe our streets have become, particularly around schools.

What would increase active transport for children, certainly better infrastructure, reducing residential speeds to 30km/hr ( school zones less) restricting car use around schools and enforcing road rules like Rule 73 of the Australian Road Rules. Which is ignored routinely

But if you were on you bike then that would be different as a bike is classed as a vehicle under the Road Rules. WTF.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cycling Dutch Style

Cycling Dutch style are a group of Australians who are in Holland to look at the worlds greatest bicycle culture and how even today, the bike plays a vital role in everyday transportation.


So as Canberra and many other cities around Australia grapple with ever increasing car congestion and the livability of our cities. What are the solutions for our cities and how do we design a cycle friendly town and city.


Here is the group meeting up with the crew from A view from the cycle, David Hembrow ,his wife Judy and Mark Wagenbuur. You can view the full post here, and more of the tour here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Following New Yorks Journey

One of the Films that got me interested in setting up this blog and calling for better infrastructure on our roads in Canberra was the Film by Streetfilms a few years ago, called "Physically Separated Bike Lanes"which looked at the problems of the current cycling infrastructure of cycle lanes in New York city. I particularly like Enrique Penalosa's comment on cycle lanes , 'A bike-way that is not safe for an 8 year old child is not a bike-way, to have them or not at all is the same in my opinion.'

This video has received well over a hundred thousand plays on Streetfilms and You Tube. You can clearly see the issues with cycle lanes on busy roads and how they do not protect the cyclist at all.

Streetfilms could  be credited with the change that has now happened in New York, but you also need Government officials with some Political guts to make things happen. Like the New York Transport commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Who went and visited places like Copenhagen to see for herself what could be achieved with the implementation of good cycling infrastructure.

So what has been the transformation for New York City.............

Like the film's title ,'its more than just Bike lanes'. Canberra could also improve its infrastructure like this, one that doesn't discriminate between the cycling for training, commuting to work, children riding to school , shopping by bike, and the many other uses. As have many other world cities.........
New York




Thursday, May 5, 2011

Good practice with some 'cycle chic'

Riding home through the city (Civic) yesterday, it was good to see some good practice for pedestrians and cyclists around construction zones was being applied. I have blogged about this before and the need for policy to be enforced for traffic management not just for motor vehicles but also for other users.

Good provisions for cyclists and pedestrians

...........with a nice bit of Cycle chic
Also some more shared zones are being used though many drivers still forget that in a shared zone ,Pedestrians have absolute right of way!

Childers Street, City West
My preference is to remove cars altogether from roads like these unless it is necessary for them to be there.

Like here in Helsinki,Finland..

 and of course here in Canberra
City walk Civic , City East.

..........though there is certainly differing views on that subject.