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Do on-road cycling lanes need a rethink?

By Rollersk8r - 1 May 2015 67

cyclist-stock-171114

The last thing I want to do is create another cyclist vs motorist thread on this site. However, as a cyclist and motorist who witnessed another cyclist hit on Northbourne Avenue yesterday morning, I honestly wonder how much longer until they say, “Okay, we tried this – it’s unsafe, so we’re stopping it or trying something else.”

I still regularly use the Northbourne cycling lanes and have been hit by a left-turning car myself. Basically there are two main types of accidents that will keep happening again and again while there are cyclists on a road like Northbourne.

The main one – this morning’s example – is any car making a left turn from a side street on to Northbourne. Driver does a quick check, no cars coming, continues accelerating and doesn’t see the bike right in front of them. The second (which is how I got hit) is when cars suddenly make left turns off Northbourne and leave the cyclist beside them with nowhere to go, especially as traffic backs up in the Braddon area.

Canberra’s cycling infrastructure is absolutely world class – I highly doubt I’d take the risk of riding to work in Sydney or Melbourne. Although, if we’re about to spend $1 billion on a tram, how about a proper separated cycleway along the same route? Or is this somehow included?

What’s Your opinion?


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67 Responses to
Do on-road cycling lanes need a rethink?
jcjordan 12:07 am 02 May 15

The comments here are an example of why there problems with what is a great on road cycle network.
Firstly those paths that you see alongside a small number of our older roads that so many call, including members of government, are NOT cycle paths but shared paths. Which means that by law pedestrians have right of way on them and are not designed with the cyclist in mind. With all the blind corners, narrow turns the chances of hitting someone is fairly high and if you look at hospital data represent over 75% of cyclist admissions. When you consider that as the law currently stands if a cyclist hit anyone on these paths they are automatically at fault unless they can prove otherwise I am surprised that any of them will go near them if they plan to do speeds above 20km/hr.

The raised lanes in and around civic are a separate matter as these are actually cycle paths or lanes. The fact that they are nearly useless due to all the pedestrians that walk across them without looking or stand there chatting means that you are better off on the road where you can travel at a decent pace. This is caused both by design but also from sheer ignorance on behalf of most people (cyclist and pedestrians)

Northborne would be the worst place to ride (or drive for that matter) during the peak times. The lanes are narrow, full of rubbish and drivers turn left without warning, through open doors or drive in the lane I am actually surprised that more people are not killed.

Having ridden in every capital city in Australia I have to say that we are blessed with the on road network here in Canberra. They are wide, well designated and are in the vast majority respected by both drivers and cyclist. Now if we could just get TAMS to actually clean them up every once and a while, not once every 10 years as it currently stands, it would be perfect.

redstripe 11:34 pm 01 May 15

I just arrived home to Watson after riding up Northbourn from the city. Two lights on my back (one flashing) and a flashing head torch on my forehead, hi-vis jacket, 11pm at night.

I was 20 metres away from the Flemo road turn off when I got an almighty honk from a dero in a sedan. I am still wondering what from. Was I too visible? Heaven forbid, did my flashing lights distract this poor driver at this late hour?

Can riotacters please advise me of night time riding etiquette. I am a driver 90% of the time and when I drive at night, I am always grateful for flashing lights on cyclists as I quickly notice the flashing lights but only when I get closer do I see the rider.

I hate this division of cyclists/drivers. I just want to be able to ride my bike safely on the roads as frankly, sometimes the meandering, poorly lit cycling paths through the burbs along the creeks can be a bit unnerving for a female at at night. I get just as pissed off with law flouting cyclists as I do with incompetent drivers in regards to some of the earlier comments on this post. As mindfulness is all the rage at the moment, let’s back off from the rage hating troll toting honking and put ourselves in other’s cleats.

She says as she finishes her rant.

farnarkler 5:46 pm 01 May 15

Rollersk8r are you aware there is a very nice cycle path 500m away meandering through O’Connor and Turner? There are nice traffic lights at Macarthur Ave and Wattle St and a zebra crossing at David street.

If you don’t know about it, may I suggest you try it. Minimal exposure to cars and no buses.

Innovation 5:19 pm 01 May 15

I’ve had several near misses on Northbourne and the City cycle loop. Buses drifting into the cycle lane (one slow moving bus knocked cyclists off their bikes even), vehicles turning left in front of bikes and vehicles and bicycles getting confused over right of way at intersections with on raised on road cycleways. While it helps cyclists to observe road rules and avoid blind spots, there are still too many vehicles that pass bicycles and then immediately cut them off.

Northbourne might be improved in years to come but a simple solution would be to put a raised rubber lane divider between the car lane and cycle lane, at least through intersections. Turning cars would have to negotiate a speed hump type divider which might discourage cars from trying to beat cyclists and pedestrians through intersections and warn non turning vehicles if they are drifting into cycle lanes.

If the Government can litter roads like Starke St Holt and Flinders Way Manuka with rubber speed humps surely they can afford a smaller rubber strip along parts or all of Northbourne.

Weatherman 1:34 pm 01 May 15

Bikes On Footpaths: When Is It Lawful?
Chris Jager
6 FEBRUARY 2013 12:30 PM

http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2013/02/bikes-on-footpaths-when-is-it-lawful/

HenryBG 1:33 pm 01 May 15

Weatherman said :

The Netherlands solution to the clash of bicycles and heavy vehicles was to implement a system ….

Which is completely irrelevant to a town like Canberra that is very hilly and where cycling is not a popular activity.

http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/media-centre/city-hall/dossier-cycling/cycling-facts-and-figures

“Number of bikes in Amsterdam:
An estimated 800,000. 63% of Amsterdammers use their bike on a daily basis.
Total length of bike paths: 500 km “

So that’s less than 1metre of bike path per daily user.

In Canberra, on the other hand, we have a vast amount of cycle paths (which doesn’t stop the lycra from clogging up the roads) with only the very occasional user.

Weatherman 1:24 pm 01 May 15

It should also be acknowledged that under Australian Capital Territory law and jurisdiction, footpaths and sidewalks are considered to be bike lanes. It is not always the case that cyclists have marked priority on footpaths and sidewalks in areas that are interstate.

Weatherman 12:13 pm 01 May 15

The Netherlands solution to the clash of bicycles and heavy vehicles was to implement a system of bike lanes (Fietspads) that are separated from urban road thoroughfares (Baanvak). As aforementioned by other respondents, nowadays, Canberra bike lanes are mostly separated with the exception of rural and outlying parts of Australian Capital Territory and interstate roads.

Rollersk8r 11:26 am 01 May 15

Ezy said :

Having ridden around in Melbourne – it is fairly easy to get around. If I lived there, I would hardly need a car because of that reason. The drivers seem to be more aware of cyclists, the biggest cyclist danger down there is car doorings though (when a driver opens their door without looking for a cyclist in their mirror or doing a head check).

This simple and cheapest solution is to simply educate drivers. Being a good driver is about accessing what is going on in your surroundings. This means looking our for and making eye contact with other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists etc.

Then there is also teaching cyclists how to ride defensively. Cars will cut you off, pull out in front of you etc. You shouldn’t be smashing down Northbourne in peak hour thinking that this isn’t going to happen. A steady speed, fingers on the brakes at all times, always looking ahead, paying close attention to cars that are indicating to turn in front of you. When I ride on a busy road, I ride knowing that I will at some point a car will pull out or cut me off and having that ‘always on edge’ attitude makes me more alert.

I was going to mention – I just spent a week in and around the Melbourne CBD. Trams and tram passengers generally means there’s a lot more to look out for on the roads than there is here; plus cycle lanes are often on the outside of parked cars; plus some cyclists launch themselves at insane speeds down the hilly bits of the city. Yet, somehow, it seems cyclists are a more accepted part of the ecosystem down there…

Limestone_Lizzy 11:18 am 01 May 15

I ride Northbourne daily and have been hit a few times, each case the driver was negligent careless. Moving the cycling lanes off the main road though would greatly increase the danger.

Drivers pulling into or out of driveways or turning left are currently required to give way and the vast majority do. The vast majority are aware of bikes and drive very proactively around bikes.

Removing the bike lane to the outside of the road would remove this significant protection that cyclists receive. Cyclists would now have to give way to everybody crossing the cycle path and during main commuting times it would not be practical.

It would also introduce ‘iphone sheeple’ to the mix as well resulting in a fairly impractical scenario.

Moving it inward could be a possibility but would be a fairly costly exersise.

@Madam Cholet
The raised cycle is pretty confusing and often just used as an extension of the footpath, not a good use of money

Madam Cholet 11:03 am 01 May 15

The problem I encounter with them (that is the designated raised cycleways around Marcus Clarke etc), is that A) cyclists fail to stop at traffic lights as they should. So you step off the pavement at your peril, and B) cyclists ride up them the wrong way, so again, you could step off when the green man says you should and still get taken out by a cyclist you have not been obliged to actually look out for.

I’m all for cycling, but it’s when you see regular flouting of the rules that you start to get annoyed.

ABC129 10:59 am 01 May 15

I believe the whole Northbourne road corridor is being tweaked as part of the Light Rail project. I don’t think they have settled on the final design, but separated cycleways are definitely under consideration.

As it is, Northbourne is a pretty special case in terms of cycle lanes. The lane is quite narrow with many cross roads and driveways intersecting with it. Other roads such as Adelaide Ave are much safer to commute on, though you do still need to be wary on the Green Lanes of Death.

I’m in no way trying to victim blame, but if you try to make sure you’re not riding in the car’s blind spots and make head-checks when approaching slip and turning lanes I find it goes a long way to avoiding some of the situations you mentioned. Also, assume in the first instance that the person driving the car has not seen you until you have made eye contact or are sure they are stopping for you helps too.

Unfortunately many people driving cars do not consider the cycle lane as another lane of traffic and fail to look adequately when crossing through it. Broadly speaking it is getting better (slowly), but there is still some way to go.

Sorry to hear about your accident.

Ezy 10:56 am 01 May 15

Having ridden around in Melbourne – it is fairly easy to get around. If I lived there, I would hardly need a car because of that reason. The drivers seem to be more aware of cyclists, the biggest cyclist danger down there is car doorings though (when a driver opens their door without looking for a cyclist in their mirror or doing a head check).

This simple and cheapest solution is to simply educate drivers. Being a good driver is about accessing what is going on in your surroundings. This means looking our for and making eye contact with other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists etc.

Then there is also teaching cyclists how to ride defensively. Cars will cut you off, pull out in front of you etc. You shouldn’t be smashing down Northbourne in peak hour thinking that this isn’t going to happen. A steady speed, fingers on the brakes at all times, always looking ahead, paying close attention to cars that are indicating to turn in front of you. When I ride on a busy road, I ride knowing that I will at some point a car will pull out or cut me off and having that ‘always on edge’ attitude makes me more alert.

Rustygear 10:46 am 01 May 15

There are proposals to integrate cycleways into the light rail redevelopment – go to
http://haveyoursay.capitalmetro.act.gov.au/walking-and-cycling
although it seems they have closed the consultation phase, you can see the options being considered.

Grimm 9:21 am 01 May 15

Canberra is already full of separated cycleways. I see cyclists riding on the road right next to these cycleways all the time. Why spend the money if they won’t be used by most?

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