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.


LBJ said...

Nothing beats good bike infrastructure. It's not great where I live, so I got a folding bike. I like it because in places where it's really not safe to ride on the roads, it's easy to put the bike into my trunk, and once I feel like I can ride on the road safely, I can just park, unfold the bike and get on with my ride.

birdmonkey said...

I just found your blog- great to see style and advocacy meeting here. More images of canberra's stylish citizens and bike gangs would be great.