Tuesday, 7 January 2014

There are plans and then there are plans

It only took until the second day of the year for an article on cycling to appear in our local news. It's about a plan to turn an eastern suburbs road into a bicycle boulevard.

Bicycle Boulevards have been introduced with success in a number of American cities (Portland, Berkeley, Davis and Boulder spring to mind).

The boulevard is part of a new cycling plan for Norwood, Payneham and St Peter's Council. Knowing that it has no way of changing what happens on State Government controlled arterial roads, the council is upgrading a series of residential streets to create (as best it can) a network. Beulah Road is currently the most used street by people travelling on two wheels. Hence the upgrade plan.

At the moment though, it is just a plan. We are told it is expected to cost between $50,000 and $300,000 and that it needs approval from the Transport Department.

So even now (despite the modest cost) it may or may not eventuate.

This is the main part of the council's cycling plan - its flagship if you will. The pictures look nice but I suspect that in truth it is a stretch of road with snazzy signs at each end, large bicycle logos on the ground and a 30 km/h speed limit. In other words, putting aside the fancy signs at the beginning, it is what all residential streets should be. The reasons for the low speed limit are to allow sharing the road and because frankly there is no need to have a faster speed limit because the road is a destination rather than thoroughfare.

In other words, if it were genuinely part of a network, it would be one small and quiet part of it.

We are blessed with wide main roads. I just wish we could finally use them properly. We all know about the easy to follow graphic:

And in a fit of perfect timing, Copenhagenize just published a post about Copenhagen's easy to follow design manual for bicycle infrastructure and parking. Adopt something like that, apply it each time a road is resurfaced or undergoes maintenance and before you know what has happened, 15 years have passed and you have transformed your city.

Despite my moaning, one thing I think is certain is that this will be a success. Bicycle traffic will increase along it and it should in time lead to more of them in other areas. It won't result in the end of the world for motorists. People will still be able to park and reach their houses.

I only have one wish. Please, please, please let us not refer to it as a "super" route. It is an improvement on what was there before but it does not deserve the title "super".

These are only slow baby steps and we are yet again copying from a city that itself has only taken baby steps and not copied what really works - but there you go. It is something.

Incidentally, do not bother going to the comments on the news article - they contain the same tired old dreary nonsense. Over something that in the scheme of things costs peanuts. And is not even definite anyway.


  1. Very well put Edward.
    "These are only slow baby steps and we are yet again copying from a city that itself has only taken baby steps and not copied what really works - but there you go. It is something."
    Reminds me of the 'prime directive'. Why we keep copying the copycats (US who we know is getting it wrong), rather than adapting straight from the source (north Europe) I will never know.

  2. Short answer: Our politicians have no balls.

    Long answer: The 'baby steps' are there so that the vocal part of the community who doesn't like change (motorists) can see what benefits it has to the street and will change their minds over time.

    The problem is that if the design is too compromised. Then no one will be convinced of anything.

    For example the poor quality intersections they've been building for the bikeways for the last few years. We need to tell the authorities that we should never build multi stage crossings - not only are they more expensive (fences, extra poles), they encourage people to jaywalk because no one wants to take 3 minutes to cross when it should take 30 seconds.