Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Now there's a surprise

Unsurprisingly, the usual tired old arguments have prevailed and Adelaide City Council is going to dismantle the experimental separated bike lane on Sturt Street. It was reported in the Advertiser today and on the ABC website.

Apparently, according to Rachel Sanderson, the new State member for Adelaide, "the lane is dangerous for pedestrians and bad for business." Both statements are bollocks of course. How can an otherwise intelligent MP claim that bicycles are dangerous but at the same time totally ignore the fast moving cars on the road right next to it? At the school crossing, there is a give way sign requiring bikes to stop for pedestrians. These things of course take a little getting used to but you would hope the council would have given it a bit of time before listening to the whining.

As for downturn in business turnover, how do you draw that conclusion. There are a few specialist shops on Sturt Street including the electrical spare parts shop, which seems to be the only one of its kind. The suggestion seems to be that because a motorist couldn't get a park they automatically go somewhere else for that reason. What about all of the pedestrian traffic that businesses lose because of streets that are unfriendly and in many cases just dangerous?

A local business owner says that it should be removed because cyclists weren't using it. Maybe not but shouldn't we give it a bit of time?

The stupidest part of it all was the design. It was on a short road with relatively slow moving traffic that was not particularly dangerous for cyclists. It started nowhere with no other paths leading to it and finished by dumping the riders in the middle of Whitmore Square with nothing but a painted line to protect them. I wonder why nobody used it.

The consequence of course is that whenever anybody suggests spending money on cycling facilities, you will hear the same arguments: "cyclists don't use it anyway, look at Sturt Street".

About 30 years ago in Copenhagen, the local authorities started with measures like this. They began by taking a little bit of space away from cars and opening bike lanes. They were greeted by the same complaints based on unproven assumption. They kept going of course and the rest is history. Look at Copenhagenize and other websites. My only hope is that the council does not give up on this but keeps persevering. It was a great idea but badly executed.

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