Thursday, 2 December 2010

Parking lanes

On a recent Hamish and Andy show, they were explaining how most people, when they are watching the Ashes and get up to go and get a drink or food, will do a pretend bowl. The bowling action is always perfect and often ends with a quiet shout of "howzat". One listener rang in to say that when he goes between the lounge and kitchen he pretends he is a V8 supercar driver. When he takes the corner there is sometimes a bit of a slide but it is always well controlled.

Depending on where I am when cycling to work, I occasionaly pretend I am on a beautiful wide and safe cycle lane. When I cross an intersection, I migh also pretend that I am going through special designated bicycle traffic lights. It happens early in the morning before all of the street parking has been filled up. The wide streets with on-street parking are great for it. Frome Road is one of them. This picture was taken just south of Rundle Street:

Usually you are unlucky and there is at least one car you have to get past (like the ute in the picture) which can involve an element of luck and does involve a lot of over the shoulder checking, speed adjusting and, usually, a thank you wave to the motorist who let you in or gave you a wide berth.

On the day when you get a stretch of uninterrupted parking lane with no cars on it, you can pretend you're in a slightly raised separated bike lane. When you get to the intersection, you can imagine the lane gently joining with the road but continuing across the intersection with a wide painted blue or green lane.

(Original here)

People who come to the city by car obviously need somewhere to park but it must be said that they are fairly spoiled. As we know though, there is a massive number of car parks in central Adelaide, most of them cheap or free. At a recent count (see page 30 but watch out - it is a 3mb pdf file), Adelaide had 15,075 on-street car parks and 31,000 private parks. Compare that to other cities, especially Perth which has a total of 13,000 in a similar but slightly smaller area, and it can be seen that we could probably comfortably lose a few.

On the section of Frome Road I cycle along, the price of car parks varies. On one stretch they have a limit of 1 hour but they are free. Further south where you are starting to hit residential areas, these are the prices:

If we assume on a weekday the car park is used for the full 10 hours between 8am and 6pm and also assume the user pays for the whole time, the car park earns $24 a day. In a week, that makes $120. The 4 hours on a Saturday adds 40c. Multiply that by all of the on-street car parks and it soon adds up.

The question is whether it is the best investment for the city. When a space that size is taken up by a car sitting idle, it cannot be used for anything else. Using the space for a wide, raised bike lane is a potentially useful alternative. The space will no longer make $120 a week but will the benefits it brings outweigh that? I think they will. The benefits are well known.

A series of that style of bike lanes on at least a selection of main roads will work wonders. The time is now. If your morning commute is anything to go by, there are more people than ever choosing to get around on a bike. This is what they deserve.

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