Friday, 3 May 2013

Lax standards

Unless there is a high standard bicycle route hidden somewhere else, by my reckoning, Adelaide's CBD has one proper bike path. By proper, I mean it has an appropriate level of separation from motorised traffic given the volume of traffic. It is on Frome Street just north of North Terrace (where it ends). It starts at the end of the zoo and so in total it is about 500m long.

It has been there a couple of years now and is starting to look a little worse for wear. In places it has been resurfaced - poorly:

And along its length, tree routes are beginning to make for a bumpy ride:

In other countries it might be considered a bit of an embarrassment but it is the best we have.

It is in the same style as some German paths that in reality are part of the pavement and which are often the subject of complaints. This example is in Berlin:

and this one is in Cologne:

Pictures borrowed from Hamburgize

Our path is not too far from one of the entrances to the Linear Park route and so it likely gets traffic from there as well as the route through the parklands from Botanic Drive. I would hazard a guess that some people purposely make it part of their route into the city because of its design. I know I do.

Over the course of its life it has improved too. Now there is a proper treatment when it reaches North Terrace whereas before it would just come to an end on the pavement:

It also shows that we do not have to follow whatever set of design guidelines is in vogue. Instead, we can try new and different things and see if what has worked elsewhere could work here too, which in the case of the Frome Street lane, it plainly does. I am very pleased to see the English are trying what for them are new things although in reality they have been tried and tested elsewhere for decades.

Now that we've seen this working for a while and given its crumbling quality, is it not time for a bit of an upgrade? And an extension to other city streets while we're at it?


  1. Frome Road, like nearly every other street in the CBD, has been given to motorists. Despite the leafy appearance it is an unpleasant place to walk, due to motor traffic, for the thousands of students, workers and tourists who have to use it. Your post doesn't show that it has four lanes for motorists in this section, which is completely unnecessary except for the questionable benefit of shorter queues at the North Tce traffic signals for the minority of the roa users i.e. motorists.

    Traffic engineers have this fantasy called a road hierarchy in which they think they can "push cyclists down road x instead of road y", where road x is the main street and the one *everyone* wants to use. But for traffic engineers the most important users are those in private motor vehicles and they are to be given priority, even at the expense of vulnerable road users.

  2. PS Your timestamp on the comments appears out of whack. I sent the second one at 10.07am on 4th May.

    1. Totally agree, especially about the two lanes each side. I was planning a future blog post about that.

      Where Frome Street begins off Carrington Street, it has one lane. It expands into two for no apparent reason there. The same thing happens just after the zoo at the opposite end. In fact, I think the only reason it doesn't go from one to two a bit earlier is because that free parking outside the zoo is so sacred.

      As you'd expect, the traffic expands like a liquid into the two lanes. Cars do not move more freely. It is just a bit more space to take over. I'm not sure it makes any difference other than marginally shorter queues at North Terrace. In the evening rush hour, there is an unnecessary bottleneck as the traffic tries to squeeze from two lanes to one.

      As has been proved time and time again, keeping the traffic to one lane each side would make no difference at all to congestion. It would remove the bottle neck and leave room for proper Dutch style lanes and junctions instead of the weird painted thing on the pavement we have now.

      PS: I'll try and resolve the timestamp problem. I think it is because Blogspot thinks it's in the US.