Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Poor cycling infrastructure part 2

In a previous post, I showed some pictures of part of my route to work. In fact, it is the best part of my route to work. The rest contains some stretches of trouble free riding on residential roads but they are all interrupted by major intersections where there is absolutely no provision for bikes and you are expected to act as if you are in a car because for the purposes of the Australian Road Rules, you are a "vehicle".

At the crossing at the end of Mann Terrace, there is a little bit of bike "infrastructure". The designer assumes that cyclists will ride north along Mann Road towards Melbourne Street, next to two lanes of traffic travelling at 60 km/h, even though as this picture shows, there is not even a painted bike lane until the turning lane into Melbourne Street begins.

Cyclists are required to cross the intersection and then travel diagonally next to the pedestrian crossing, wait for traffic to clear and then join the painted lane to the left of four lanes of traffic:

I have never used it. Again, the only people who I ever see use it are male and in tights. I have nothing against that of course but it does show that the infrastructure that is there does not encourage other sections of the population.

Once I have crossed the pedestrian crossing (riding of course and breaking the law), I continue along Mann Terrace:

Again, because it is blocked to motorised through traffic, it is quiet and safe. Before it turns right into Mackinnon Parade, there is an off road pedestrian and cycle path leading towards Hackney Road and the Linear Park cycleway:

With a couple of signs and a proper crossing when it reaches Bundys Road, it could be an excellent piece of infrastructure.

At the end of Mackinnon Parade, there is a strange little bike track. It's about 15 metres long. It starts at a right angle to the road like this:

And then continues for its 15 metres complete with bikeway signs:

Before it hits a road and turns into another pedestrian crossing:

Cross the road and you are on another great off road path:

This one is shared with joggers and takes you to the intersection of Frome Road and War Memorial Drive close to the zoo.

The fact that there are signs on this route shows that someone has given it thought. With very little change, it could be part of a city wide network. Get rid of the obstacles at road crossings and signpost it as a dedicated route into the city. Then build more. Signpost them and advertise them. Advertise them using pictures of people in normal clothes on normal bikes so it looks like a normal activity - which it is.

And get rid of one of the biggest disincentives to cycling - mandatory helmet laws. If people choose to wear them, let them. But don't force people. If you really want to make cycling safe, invest money and make it safe. Don't pretend that an expanded polystyrene hat is going to make all the difference.

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