Thursday, 27 January 2011

New suburbs (update)

Not long ago, I posted about new suburbs and how we could learn from the way the Dutch have planned some of their suburbs. I posted a video of one built in the 1970s. One of the stars of the video kindly sent me a link to a more up-to-date video of the same town. It is amaaaazing:

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Bike lanes making news

Bike lanes have been making the news recently. Councils have been told not to issue any more fines for parking in bike lanes while a legal issue is resolved. Apparently, the bike lanes are unenforceable because the Road Rules do not allow for bike lanes that are only in use for a few hours a day.

It might be because they are a stupid idea.

Anyway, Rule 153 of the Road Rules defines what a bike lane is. It says:

A "bicycle lane" is a marked lane, or the part of a marked lane:

(a) beginning at a bicycle lane sign applying to the lane; and

(b) ending at the nearest of the following:

(i) an end bicycle lane sign applying to the lane;

(ii) an intersection (unless the lane is at the unbroken side of the continuing road at a T-intersection or continued across the intersection by broken lines);

(iii) if the road ends at a dead end—the end of the roa

The "bicycle lane" sign looks like this:

and the "end bicycle lane" sign looks like this:

The problem seems to be the extra bit that says "between 4.00 and 6.00pm" or whatever time it says.

It is interesting that the default position seems to be that the poor, hard-done-by motorist gets the benefit of the doubt. The motorist would only have been issued the expiation notice if they blocked the lane between the designated hours. They chose to and should be fined.

I would have thought if the extra sign saying when the bike lane is in operation is the problem, the result would be that that part of the sign can safely be ignored and the bike lane is in fact in force all day - as it should be.

Nobody would suffer because nobody has been issued a fine outside of the designated hours. It just seems yet again a strange result that a person can park their car in a clearly signposted bike lane, thereby blocking and endangering cyclists, and get away with it for what is a minor technicality.

If this is a problem, you would hope it would be sorted quickly. It is a Regulation so does not require a new Bill to go through both Houses of Parliament. It could conceivably be done overnight. I won't hold my breath though.

Friday, 21 January 2011


This is a very good video. I pinched it from Copenhagenize who in turn got it from iamnotacyclist on Twitter.

It makes the point in a new and clever way. There is some dialogue which you'll only understand if you speak Dutch. It's not necessary for the message though:

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Michael Jackson's legs

When I was younger, Santa would sometimes bring me or my brothers a lego set. One year my brother got a couple of pieces of roadway, which was great because we could then properly play with all of the cars we had made. Lego being Danish, the roadway pieces generally match European roads. I could never fully understand why there were so many crossing littered all over them. It was impossible to buy a piece with an intersection on it that did not have a crossing blocking the way of my lego car.

It is of course because the road pieces were designed not just for little lego cars but for little lego people too and on the front of many boxes of lego you could see people crossing the road with smiles on their yellow noseless faces.

In residential areas, it is something I think we could do with. I have moaned in the past about obstacles in the way of walking children to school. A crossing at each intersection would make life so much easier, particularly if they had the obligatory pedestrian crossing sign with Michael Jackson's legs on it:

As I have moaned about before, it should not strictly be necessary because pedestrians already have right of way at t-junctions and intersections when a car is turning on to the road they are crossing. The weird thing is that they do not have right of way when they are crossing the side street as a car when the car is approaching the intersection. It should be said of course that many many drivers are courteous and let pedestrians cross anyway.

A further rule that is often forgotten (rule 69(2A)) says that if a driver is turning left using a slip lane, the driver must give way to pedestrians on the slip lane. Anyone who has tried to cross the slip lane to get to the small concrete refuge would know that it is rare for a driver to be aware of the rule. They may of course also be completely oblivious of the pedestrian standing on the side of the road waiting to cross. Another place where Michael Jackson's legs are needed.

In fact, we need Michael Jackson's legs on all intersections in our residential areas. It would be a fitting tribute to his brilliance.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Three and a half minutes

The other day I took a trip that required me to get across Main North Road. Occasionally you will see someone riding along that road, toe clips spinning. It is only the suicidal though who will try and turn right using one of the turning lanes. Call me old-fashioned, but I have an inate sense of self-preservation so I will use the pedestrian crossing. If you're not close to it, it can be a bit of a hike to reach it. The next one is easily a kilometer and a half away.

The crossing is near Prospect Library:

I decided to conduct an experiment and time how long it took before the robot inside the lights condescended to let me cross after I had asked its permission by pressing the button.

Three and a half minutes.

It felt like ages. It would have been worse had I not been preoccupied timing it. Waiting always seems to take much longer when you don't know it's going to end - like waiting for a bus without a timetable.

You have to ask what sort of message is being sent to pedestrians when they're asked to wait in the heat for that long without any shade. When cars are finally required to stop, the light doesn't stay red very long and when I crossed, all of the drivers were sitting comfortably with the air conditioner on. The crossing is right next door to the library and so is used by the elderly, children and other visitors to the library.

Having said that, I cannot really complain when I compare my plight with that of a poor woman who had been waiting at this bus stop on North East Road the same day:

I rode past and she stopped me to ask me the time. She explained that she missed the earlier bus and had been waiting there for 25 minutes and "me feet are killing me". The crappy council hadn't even bothered to put a seat there for her. That is one of the problems of having two separate authorities in charge of bus services and bus stops. It is the responsibility of local councils to install bus stops, seats and shelters. The State Government just sticks the pole in the ground.

Anyway, whoever is responsible, it is time for me to write a letter to the council to tell them the story of the lady with the sore feet.

Trains again

If you are a railway tragic like me, this type of video is always welcome:

It is on the Department of Infrastructure website and shows a video of the new trains the Government is buying for the railway network once it is electrified. The inside of the trains are, as you would expect, light and open and have generous space for wheelchair users and prams and things.

Not much bike space though. It is of course a concept video but you would hope that would be rectified.

Copenhagenize posted a short piece about a competition that was run by the operators of the S-trains in Copenhagen. People were invited to submit ideas on how the train service could be improved. Four people separately made the winning suggestion which was to put bike pumps on the trains. DSB is also increasing the space available for bicycles and since last January, bikes travel free.

I hope these and other ideas are considered in time for the release of the new trains. In addition, in my fantasy world, we would also see generous undercover bike parking at stations and a network of safe paths leading up to the stations.

Hope springs eternal.