Monday, March 28, 2011

Canberra's Big Ride

Canberra's Big ride was held on Monday the 14th March ,where 1300 people took part in three different rides ranging from 25km to 105km.
Amy Gillet Foundation
This year the ride was combined with the Amy Gillet Ride, which promotes the road safety message of sharing the road and that " a metre matters"


Amy Gillet was tragically killed while on a training ride on a rural road in Germany .

In Australia about 40 people last year lost there lives while cycling and several thousand more were seriously injured or injured. While I agree there needs to be a better understanding between drivers and cyclists on the road, it is a 'big ask' to share roads that are 'high speed high volume' and with only a painted line as protection.
As someone who used to cycle on the Tuggeranong parkway to work, riding along with cars, trucks and buses traveling past at a 100km/h or more was a silly thing to do and had a few near misses. You do have the option to ride on some of the good cycle paths in Canberra but what is needed is more direct routes and more bicycle super highways.

Yet the only option the ACT government is providing is on road cycle lanes on our major highways and arterial roads and proclaiming that they are safe.

The argument by the ACT government is that they couldn't afford to have a completely separated network as the ability to do so has been lost. Yet we are still spending millions on roads and car-parks.
I would strongly argue that the ability to have a separated network is not lost and that what is needed is political will.

There is an argument that the elite riders and commuter cyclists would prefer to use the roads and think the cycle lanes are just fine as there are. So what is the solution in the Netherlands I wonder? They have many elite cyclists and  recreational cycling is very popular. I posed this question to David Hembrow ( A View from the cycle path) about elite cyclists and this was his answer:

Dutch racing cyclists ride on cycle paths. They do it for the same reason as everyone else. The cycle paths smooth, direct, take priority at junctions etc. If they were on the roads then their journeys would
take longer. There are a couple of photos here:

Racing cyclists, Netherlands

BTW, cycle sport is incredibly popular in the Netherlands. That's one
of the reasons why while NL has a much smaller population than
Australia, it's produced a lot more cyclists who've won stages in or
worn the yellow jersey in the Tour de France.

Just like for everything else to do with cycling, sport cycling is
very well supported in the Netherlands. I can perhaps explain best by pointing out what our small town, Assen,with a population of just 65000 people, has by way of facilities. 

As well as the many hundreds of km of rather wonderful cycle paths in
the area, which are used quite heavily by racing types, Assen has a cycle track racing circuit, a cycle trials circuit, and also several BMX circuits and MTB circuits. There are also a lot of rough cycle paths through the woods which are maintained for the benefit of MTBers.

We have two quite large cycle racing teams based in this area: The world famous Rabobank team (the Rabobank is a bank which started in this area of the Netherlands) and the not quite so well known
Skil-Shimano team are often to be seen practicing on cycle paths near my home. These are top world class athletes - certainly not "beginners".
Like most cyclists, they also use the rather abandoned minor roads in the countryside. Minor roads are almost impossible to use by car.

Racing Cyclists,Netherlands

The Dutch are really keen on cycle racing. Perhaps only the Belgians
have more enthusiasm for this sport.
And as I was talking about Belgians... there has been a story recently in the Netherlands about Dutch racing cyclists maybe using the roads
in the future, but it's a push from the other direction. i.e. from people who are out for a quiet Sunday ride who would rather that large groups of racers weren't on the cycle path with them. Mostly this is
an issue in Zeeland, because it's near the Belgian border and Belgian racers regularly cross the border in large numbers to use the Dutch cycle paths. They come across the border because the conditions are
much better for them on cycle paths here than on roads in Belgium. A few minor problems have been rather exaggerated and I expect this to blow over...

Cycle path ,next to a Major Highway along one of the dike's, Netherlands
 Thanks David.

So there is definitely the opportunity to do so here and there are some good examples from around Australia, where physical separation is being applied.

 So the safety message of :

 ...interestingly in the Australian Road Rules it is illegal to come within 2 metres of the rear of a Motor vehicle. Yet a metre matters when passing a cyclist?

The Campaign instead should be:

 nothing less for high speed high volume roads.

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