Thursday, 5 May 2011

Bike stencils in weird places

There are lots of things we can learn from other places: car building from the Japanese, cycling infrastructure from the Dutch; health systems from the Scandinavians and so on. Tragically, so often it is the crap ideas that are adopted instead.

I was in Queensland not long ago visiting the Gold Coast. Driving along the highway, I noticed that some cycling infrastructure had been added. When I say "cycling infrastructure", I use the phrase in its broadest possible sense. On the hard shoulder after each junction a picture of a bike was painted to turn the hard shoulder into a bike lane. When you reach an exit lane, a sign tells the cyclist to stop and wait for a break in the traffic before crossing the lane and joining the hard shoulder again. Once they have done that, a painted bike on the ground confirms for them that they are in the right place - just in case.

You can imagine a family driving along the highway and seeing that:

Mother: Look everyone, what
was previously just a hard shoulder has been miraculously transformed into world class cycling infrastructure.

Father: Well what are we doing wasting our time and money driving the Ford Territory along here? We'll be on our bikes next week.

Children: Hooray!

Why a local authority would require a cyclist or anyone to cross a sliplane like that on a busy highway with a speed limit of 110 km/h will never cease to puzzle me. Unsurprisingly, I did not see a single person using the "bike lane" in a 45 km stretch. I cannot see anybody in their right mind doing it.

That stupid idea has alas been imported here. I was driving along Port Wakefield Road just the other day and saw precisely the same thing. It was where the speed limit was 90 km/h. No change to the road layout whatsoever, just a bicycle stencil painted in the gutter.

Anyone riding a bike along Port Wakefield Road or the Pacific Highway in Queensland does not need a painted bike stencil to tell them where to ride. Anyone in that position is well and truly what is known as a "vehicular cyclist" (plus a bit bonkers if you ask me).

Nobody is going to drive past that sort of thing, slap themselves on the forehead and have a sudden epiphany. More than likely it will be completely ignored and never used, which judging by the fact that you never see a single person riding a bicycle along there, is exactly what is happening.

It is a pity because whoever made the decision to paint the signs was probably quite genuine. They just don't realise that it was a total waste of time and money. Just stop a cyclist in the street and ask them where they think some bike lanes could be installed. They will all have a constructive answer for you.

Port Wakefield Road


  1. I think I'd go to the Germans for a car but I get your point.

  2. Actually there was a change to the road layout of PW Road. There was no hard shoulder before.