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Solution to “Scofflaw Cyclists”

By 21 May 2010 39

The Scofflaw Cyclists of the Inner North post last month stirred up a mass of debate in this forum… as does any discussion regarding cyclists in this city.

My response was simple. Build an intersection that legally requires motor vehicle operators to get out of their vehicle and push it for 5 metres, and you’re likely to get a bunch of motor vehicle operators breaking the law as well. A cycle route cannot suddenly turn into a pedestrian route (pedestrian crossing), just because it intersects a road. That’s bound to create a situation where people are riding their bikes where they shouldn’t be.

Enter the Dutch way of doing things.

In this video we have a bike path intersecting bus lanes and tram lines in Utrecht. Utrecht is a city of 300,000 people, a similar size to Canberra. The intersection serves over 20,000 vehicles (including bicycles) per day. Look how it simply… works. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if all riders were legally required to dismount.

According to the post, 33% of all trips in Utrecht are made by bicycle. Currently in Canberra, 2.5% of trips to work are made by bicycle. Measly by comparison. Imagine how much Northbourne Ave would be freed up in peak times, if there were a proper dedicated bicycle route down the median strip, and even a quarter of motor car users switched to bicycles. Especially when you take this picture into account, which shows the space that 60 push bikes, vs 60 motor vehicles, vs 60 bus seats, take up.

With proper alternative transport, those who hop out of their cars, are likely to save time… if not… they’ll certainly save money, and their health will improve. If 33% of car drivers in Canberra switched to alternative transport (when we finally get a proper alternative transport solution in place)… current road infrastructure will be significantly freed up, speeding up travel time for those who must drive.

So why is it that so many Canberrans are so opposed to bicycle solutions and other alternative transport? Why is it that any post about people who ride bicycles in this forum seems to stir up a hatred so deep, with arguments so illogical, it can almost be compared to race “debates” in Cronulla?

What’re your thoughts?

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39 Responses to Solution to “Scofflaw Cyclists”
#1
lobster9:34 am, 21 May 10

I have no problems with cyclists as long as they stay out of the way cars and don’t hold things up.

What annoys me though is the arrogance that some cyclists have that makes them think that they are better than everyone else.

Have you been seething on the other thread and researching this comeback for a month?

I think that the the cyclists must walk crossing is stupid. I see no difference between walking accross and slowing down before the crossing, checking for any immediate vehicles and then riding accross safely. I believe that the the intention of the law/sign/whatever is to stop cyclists from barrelling over the crossing without checking for traffic and causing or almost causing an accident.

#2
kevn9:34 am, 21 May 10

They’re not wearing helmets.

#3
nexus69:45 am, 21 May 10

Im a cyclist. I also use the bike paths for jogging. The number of times i shake my head at stupid cyclists far outnumbers the number if stupid drivers. However I am also bemused at the rage people feel towards cyclists when the vast majority of stupid things cyclists do will almost always only result in death or injury to themselves. Why so angry?
Id love to see a massive bike lane down the middle of northbourne with traffic lights. we dont need more roads, we need less cars.
I cant believe how many people ride on the road with little or no lights. having a light thats about half as bright as a cigarette is not a light people.

#4
BenjaminL9:46 am, 21 May 10

Yeh that’s what we need, more roadworks to accomodate a measly 2.5% of the Canberra population who cycle. A great way to spend my taxes.

On the other hand if Cyclists agreed to pay rego, then that would would mean extra funds for infrastructure such as these grand ideas. Oh but wait, you guys don’t want to do that, you just think it should be free. ok.

#5
nexus69:52 am, 21 May 10

“What annoys me though is the arrogance that some cyclists have that makes them think that they are better than everyone else.”

what arrogance are you talking about? Im genuinely interested to know why people think some cyclists are arrogant?

#6
harvyk110:06 am, 21 May 10

Maybe, before you start complaining that Canberran’s don’t embrace the bicycle, and you use some city in the Netherlands to prove your point, you should actually compare apples with apples, as total population is realistically a relatively meaningless number, area and density is a far more valuable number to work with…

According to Wikipedia, Canberra’s area is 814.2km2. Utrecht is only 99.32km2. Also the population density in Utrecht is 3068 people per km2, whilst Canberra is only 428 people per km2.

Now I’m no mathematician, but I do believe that means that Utrecht is roughly 8 times smaller than Canberra in geographical size, and its population density is 7 times higher than Canberra. In fact is 1.5 times higher than Sydney, and it is closer in density to Los Angeles.

So find me a city with a similar sized area and population density as Canberra, which have totally embraced the bicycle, and then come back and say we could be doing it better.

#7
troll-sniffer10:10 am, 21 May 10

As a daily cyclist in Canbra myself I notice a couple of things straight up: Firstly, no lycra-clad smart-arse riders anywhere. All I see are people in normal clothes with normal posture simply strapping on a faster means of being a pedestrian, and secondly the crossing depicted in the video is pretty unique and I can’t think of anywhere in Canberra that has a similar setup, with only buses and rail traffic to contend with.

Aussie society has a phobia about bikes that starts as early as primary school when it becomes uncool to ride, especially in the middle years of high school. Many many parents are also guilty of contributing to the reliance on cars by needlessly taking their precious little ones to school in a car rather than making them walk or ride. The media’s ridiculous role in making our streets SEEM unsafe by over-reporting and sensationalising crimes and accidents from faraway places doesn’t help either.

The issue of Northbourne Ave cycle lanes should be a low-priority one simply because many other options exist for cyclists to rapidly transit most of the inner north. Practically all the inner north suburban streets are relatively quiet and there’s a perfectly good bike path from Hackett and Lyneham all the way into the city. I personally travel via the streets one or two blocks back from Northbourne, much quicker than waiting up to two minutes or more at all the intersections on Northbourne itself.

From one end of Canbra to the other, cycleways, footpaths, suburban streets and main thoroughfares such as Hindmarsh Drive or Commonwealth/Adelaide Ave, I never feel unsafe due to one item on my bike that I feel should be compulsory over helmets and bells: my rear view mirror. IMHO any bike mixing it with other vehicles on the roads, cycle lane or not, should be required to have a rear view mirror. Much the same as in a car, I cannot imagine riding without one now.

Congestion charging for motorists on thoroughfares that become clogged is the only really sensible way to sort out who really needs to add to congestion. It is a fair and transparent way of sorting out motorist’s priorities and now with things like RAPID number plate recognition systems it is starting to become feasible. Anything else is just fiddling while waiting for Rome to burn.

#8
Spoono10:17 am, 21 May 10

Everyone in Utrecht has the exact same bike…..creepy

#9
dtc10:35 am, 21 May 10

I ride to work everyday – just to let people know my ‘loyalties’. But to change things you either need extensive infrastructure (separate bike paths – like in the vid) or cars have to put up with cyclists all over the road (like in Asia). Which of those is going to happen?

Also, I doubt most people are willing to ride for more than, say, 20 minutes each way, which is about a 10km radius (for an average rider). In Canberra that is pretty limiting – essentially inner North for Civic and inner South for Barton; that does not cover that many people. Keep in mind what Harvyk1 says – 7/8 times as many people in Utrecht will be able to use the same path (or, putting it another way, the average commuting time for the average person is likely much shorter and, hence, cycling is more likely to be attractive).

The Netherlands is, of course, notoriously flat – will people ride from (say) O’Connor to Belconnen uphill all the way?

As a result, as already happens in Canberra, you get some bike paths (the one from Dickson into Civic as a prime example) that are heavily used – flat and commuting time less than 20 min. Apart from lighting this path at night during winter, will having a ‘better’ path actually increase its use? Obviously there are some particular routes that could be significantly improved (Northbourne Ave), but its not going to change the basic fact that most people will not ride no matter what.

BTW – in terms of ‘registering’ a bike – lets do it. Of course, the same logic applies to pedestrians (they get footpaths, traffic crossings etc, all for ‘free’), so I assume everyone will agree to register themselves and walk around with their registration tags on. And presumably people with eyes who enjoy looking at our trees will register their eyes, after all the trees are provided ‘free’ and people get upset when they are cut down. Lets not forget people who use public toilets, libraries, sports fields – all ‘free’, people should pay for them.

#10
bugmenot10:37 am, 21 May 10

we pay rego – we just leave the car at home and use the bike instead.

#11
MsCheeky11:06 am, 21 May 10

I’d love to ride to work, and used to when I lived in Lyons and worked in Civic. But being a bit more geriatric and not so tough now, the ride from Jerra to Civic is not for me. That said, I agree with what dtc had to say, including the highly amusing idea of registering pedestrians.

She/he does raise an interesting point about bicycles in asian cities. What I saw being carried on bicycles in Vietnam boggled my mind. The mix of traffic is absolutely frantic there, but it works, and my guess is that it works because people accommodate each other. So yes, ride your bike over pedestrian crossings by all means – just do it safely. I think if any cyclists get on my wick, it’s the dickheads that hurtle around the pedestrian areas of Civic, such as City Walk, much, much faster than is safe. Fortunately, there’s not too many of them.

And did anyone notice the guy in the video with two bicycles – riding one and pulling the other one alongside? Good work in that density!

#12
harvyk111:30 am, 21 May 10

bugmenot, it’s not the same thing. Rego is assigned to a car, and is not transferable, thus if I only buy rego for one of my cars, I’m not allowed to drive the other until I purchase rego for it as well. But this is getting off topic.

Let’s instead look at how Canberra already has a very extensive network of unused bike paths (I know they are there, I used to use them daily). Let’s talk about how cyclists would rather risk their lives on the road rather than use the existing bike paths, which often run parallel with the roads. Let’s talk about how for some cyclists, breaking laws, such as speeding laws becomes a badge of honour, as is the ability of cyclists to outrun police.

Maybe what needs to happen is the cyclists start extensively using the existing infrastructure which is already in place before complaining about gaps.

#13
phototext11:34 am, 21 May 10

“What annoys me though is the arrogance that some cyclists have that makes them think that they are better than everyone else.”

That’s because we are, we get a special certificate telling us so when we purchase a new bicycle. There’s a secret handshake too. Ooops, I’ve said too much, the brethren will be onto me.

#14
MOCS11:50 am, 21 May 10

Aren’t 90% of paralympian ex-cyclists. You really have to have a screw loose to ride a bike on the road in Canberra. I sh*t bricks sharing the road in a car with these inattentive/aggressive/impatient codpieces.

#15
p111:55 am, 21 May 10

All I see are people in normal clothes with normal posture simply strapping on a faster means of being a pedestrian

I think right here (along with the smaller size of the city) is where one of the biggest differences lay. If you live a couple of km from work, you can cruise there at low speed, in your heavy coat on your upright bike. Probably don’t even need a helmet to mess up your hair.

If you have to do fifteen km up and down hills to get to work, you will either need to take an hour or two, going slow in your heavy coat, or ride quickly, getting hot and sweaty.

Most of Canberra’s population live a decent distance from work. They will either take their riding a bit more seriously or drive.

#16
caf12:09 pm, 21 May 10

harvyk1, Could it be that there’s a solid underlying *reason* for the revealed preference for riding on the road rather than on bike paths? Perhaps it’s because the bike paths routes are in most cases significantly longer and winding? Alternatively it could be because the bike path surfaces are of poorer quality and significantly less well maintained than the road surfaces? Could it even be because travelling on a main road gives you right-of-way at large numbers of intersections, each of which requires stopping on the bike path?

Or you know, it could be because they just want to annoy you.

#17
Bosworth1:44 pm, 21 May 10

lobster:

I have no problems with drivers as long as they stay out of the way of bicycles and don’t hold things up.

What annoys me though is the arrogance that some drivers have that makes them think that they are better than everyone else.

-

How pathetic.

#18
astrojax2:22 pm, 21 May 10

bingo, bosworth!

and phototext – it was nice having you on the riot, be sad when you have to go cylce with the fishes… ;)

#19
lobster2:39 pm, 21 May 10

Bosworth – You have put forward some very good points. Could you elaborate a bit more though?
What is pathetic?
Kind regards,
Lobster

#20
canucksfan3:02 pm, 21 May 10

I aggree with Trollsniffer, i have a rearview mirror on my bike and now wont ride without one. It not only lets me see drivers racing up behind me but also other cyclists. I think they should be made compulsory like the helmet.

#21
Postalgeek3:27 pm, 21 May 10

BenjaminL said :

On the other hand if Cyclists agreed to pay rego, then that would would mean extra funds for infrastructure such as these grand ideas. Oh but wait, you guys don’t want to do that, you just think it should be free. ok.

Well, who would’ve thunk this tired old load of tripe still had legs. Prove to me that not a single taxpayer dollar goes towards infrastructure and roads, and I’ll believe your assertion that cyclists don’t contribute towards roads. Pending your indisputable evidence, I’ll say that anyone who pays tax, which is pretty much everyone, has paid for roads. In fact, not only do tax-paying cyclists pay for roads, they also contribute to the Medicare funds that countless lazy slobs drain due to weight-related ailments.

#22
Cletus 33:34 pm, 21 May 10

Sgt. your “response” to the discussion is moronic, arrogant, and shows you completely misunderstand the issue. I suggest (from that, and other posts from you on the subject) that you are one of the 1%er cyclists giving the rest of them a bad name.

#23
Cletus 33:41 pm, 21 May 10

By the way, the issue is that the law is there for a reasonable reason. Allowing cyclists to go slowly over crossings is reasonable as well, but in practice it is a grey area and is harder to enforce or to judge (how slow must a cyclist go in order to give the motorist sufficient time to react? do you really think that you know the right answer to this? how about all the other cyclists?)

Now I think most people are pragmatic. If you really do take extra care over the crossings (and most do), then not many will care if you don’t dismount. And I’m sure coppers generally turn a blind eye (or might give you a caution). Really the same situation with jaywalking laws. There for a good reason, but if you’re careful and use common sense, it’s usually not a problem.

The problem are the cyclists who speed across the crossings (which does happen), not giving motorists enough time to react, which puts everyone in danger. This would be like jay walkers who expect cars to give way to them when crossing the road — abusing the knowledge that nobody really wants to hit another human being with their car for some slight convenicence to themselves.

#24
arescarti423:47 pm, 21 May 10

harvyk1 said :

According to Wikipedia, Canberra’s area is 814.2km2. Utrecht is only 99.32km2. Also the population density in Utrecht is 3068 people per km2, whilst Canberra is only 428 people per km2.

Wikipedia is frequently wrong about areas and population densities. The Canberra urban area is conservatively more like 300-400km^2, and the urban density more like 900-1100 people per Km^2. Still, most parts of Utrecht appear to be less than 4km away from the centre, unlike Canberra where I’d be confident saying more than half of the population live in the vast swaths of suburbia more than 10km from the city. That is the real reason that cycling is not a realistic option for most people here.

I do believe however that with some political will we can make public transport an actual transport option rather than a social service for people who can’t drive.

#25
J Dawg4:15 pm, 21 May 10

arescarti42 said :

Wikipedia is frequently wrong about areas and population densities. The Canberra urban area is conservatively more like 300-400km^2, and the urban density more like 900-1100 people per Km^2. Still, most parts of Utrecht appear to be less than 4km away from the centre, unlike Canberra where I’d be confident saying more than half of the population live in the vast swaths of suburbia more than 10km from the city.

Oh that’s cool, when it comes down to it I’d rather believe arescarti42 rather than wikipedia because wikipedia must be wrong because arescarti42 said it was. Seriously, if you want to go claiming wikipedia is wrong and then suggest your own figures are more accurate, you had better bring reliable sources with you.

Now, in this, as in any other cycling thread, we have cyclists trying to justify that breaking the law is okay “because the law is stupid and some place in Europe does it better.” By that logic, I should drive 180km/h down the Federal Hwy because they have autobahns in Germany. But I don’t.

Personally, I really don’t care whether you follow the law or break it, but if you are going to break it please don’t try to justify it. The law is the law, it applies to everyone.

#26
phototext5:26 pm, 21 May 10

“Personally, I really don’t care whether you follow the law or break it, but if you are going to break it please don’t try to justify it. The law is the law, it applies to everyone.”

Which means you always stop at a stop sign and drive at the speed limit?

#27
J Dawg6:52 pm, 21 May 10

phototext said :

Which means you always stop at a stop sign and drive at the speed limit?

If I did I wouldn’t try to justify it. I never said that you aren’t allowed to break laws or that you shouldn’t, but if you do you should realise that it IS the law and you can’t justify breaking it. I would accept a ticket for running a stop sign or speeding, cyclists (and everyone for that matter) should be prepared to face the consequences for breaking ANY law, despite your personal belief about it!!

(Damn, I really shouldn’t be feeding the trolls…)

#28
arescarti427:58 pm, 21 May 10

J Dawg said :

Oh that’s cool, when it comes down to it I’d rather believe arescarti42 rather than wikipedia because wikipedia must be wrong because arescarti42 said it was. Seriously, if you want to go claiming wikipedia is wrong and then suggest your own figures are more accurate, you had better bring reliable sources with you.

…..consider the following. A rectangle 40km long by 20km wide has an area of 800km^2. Now, look at any map of the ACT and it is fairly obvious that Canberra is less than 40km at its longest, and substantially less than 20km at its widest. Thus wikipedia must be wrong.

Also, if you care to take a look at the ACT planning and land authority spreadsheet that the Wikipedia article references, you’ll notice that 471km^2 of the 814.2km^2 total is comprised of rural areas, bushland and plantation forestry, which I would argue is not part of the city and is irrelevant in calculating density.

Reliable enough for you?

#29
phototext9:06 pm, 21 May 10

“(Damn, I really shouldn’t be feeding the trolls…)”

That’s the pot calling the kettle black.

“despite your personal belief about it!!”

Now you’re just making stuff up.

#30
J Dawg11:44 pm, 21 May 10

arescarti42 said :

Also, if you care to take a look at the ACT planning and land authority spreadsheet that the Wikipedia article references, you’ll notice that 471km^2 of the 814.2km^2 total is comprised of rural areas, bushland and plantation forestry, which I would argue is not part of the city and is irrelevant in calculating density.

Reliable enough for you?

No.

Within a few mins of searching I found this: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/3218.0~2008-09~Main+Features~Australian+Capital+Territory?OpenDocument#PARALINK1

It says the population density of Canberra (not the ACT) is 440 people per square km. Close to wikipedia’s 428.6. I’d say wiki was pretty much on the money.

phototext said :

That’s the pot calling the kettle black.

“despite your personal belief about it!!”

Now you’re just making stuff up.

Ummmmm last time I checked having an opinion or calling someone out on a ‘fact’ isn’t trolling, directly going after someone for a reaction (such as “you must always obey the law then”) is.

I’m sorry, what did I make up??? My opinion?? My opinion that despite personal beliefs about laws you should accept the consequences? Wow, sorry, I didn’t realise I couldn’t make up my own mind about an issue.

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