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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?
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ungruntled 10:47 pm 23 May 15

The cycleways definitely do need rethinking.
Has anyone observed the situation on Barry Dr opposite the ANU?
If you are travelling down Barry towards Civic & want to turn left there, there’s a bus lane, a straight ahead lane and a bike lane to cross.
I see people turning from all of them to go left. If a cyclist hasn’t been wiped out yet it’s a matter of good luck, not good management!

markb 12:29 pm 08 May 15

By their very design, on road cycle lanes inherit a level of risk that is significant. There is also no doubt that they significantly dissuade a number of existing riders at busy times and would-be riders from considering cycling as an acceptable alternative transport method.
The Northbourne Ave lanes are unacceptably narrow and in my opinion should not be recognised as cycle lanes on that basis alone. Additional adverse factors include peak hour traffic volumes, bus stops and a high number of crossings with resultant stop/start and turning traffic.
Not all on road lanes are as narrow but still have high risk. An example is the Yarra Glen/Adelaide Avenue stretch that has high speed traffic and requires the cyclist to stop at times for high speed joining traffic without any physical protection.
Outside of busy traffic times I use and enjoy a number of on road cycle lanes. But at busy times I am highly aware of my vulnerability and have experienced a number of potential collisions and “near death” experiences.
If I had a magic wand, a number of cycle lanes would be de-classified and made into dedicated powered two wheeler lanes, and have physically separated lanes built that take into account commuter requirements such as width (2 way safety), lighting/visibility (crime) and directness (time and distance).
Yes, I drive, ride motorbikes, and ride my wonderful Giant Defy on a regular basis.

Ezy 8:45 am 08 May 15

Holden Caulfield said :

I have a minor philosophical objection to bicycles and cars/trucks etc sharing the same piece of road. Not because I don’t want to share, but because the laws of physics and the inattention of too many road users (that’s everyone, cars, trucks, bikes) provides me with a never ending amount of evidence that shows it’s a bad idea for any cyclist who values their own well being.

I would say that I am a very experienced cyclist both on and off the road and am very comfortable riding in heavy traffic – having said that, I recently moved which has totally changed my commute. Where I am now, it would make perfect sense for me to hop on my roadie and head down past Hume and via Fyshwick on the highway but it is something that I’m not going to do. The sheer volume of cars at that time of day and the section where they are driving 100km/h right next to you makes no sense for me to risk my life.

So I will grab the mountain bike and head over Wanniassa Hills, Isaacs Ridge and Red Hill – for what makes for one of the best commutes I could ask for.

gazket 6:59 pm 07 May 15

Maya123 said :

gazket said :

Weatherman said :

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.

It’s still a lottery though. Last year in the Netherlands184 cyclist died on the road. Pedal Power don’t mention those statistics do they.

And I can be pretty sure people driving and walking died on the roads in the Netherlands too. What is your point here, besides showing a prospective towards people who cycle? More meaningful figures would be the percentage of deaths of cyclists as compared to the number who ride in the Netherlands, and then compare that to the percentage here in Canberra.

The point is even with separated bike lanes cycling isn’t as rosey and cheap as it seems.

The Gov have created a name Vulnerable Roads Users . Why are they bending over backwards to increase the numbers of vulnerable road users. The left would call it outsourcing death by stealth .

verdi 5:40 pm 07 May 15

Personally I find them terrifying on the multi lane busy roads and don’t use them. I would rather go the long way and enjoy my ride. On my commute I often ride on the footpath adjacent Northbourne and have been abused by pedestrians unaware that this is perfectly allowable.

bryansworld 4:34 pm 07 May 15

aussie2 said :

Serious riders need a place where they can ride, at speed, in safety. Only an off road, dedicated lane similar to a walking type footpath but a little wider than that. Building on the apron-there is a cost either way. Maybe it is about time our serious cyclists paid a fee for the privilege.

I’m a “serious rider” in that a ride to work and back several times a week, on shared paths, footpaths and roads. As the owner of a registered motor vehicle, and as a home owner, and therefore a rate payer, I already pay plenty for the privilege of our cycling infrastructure. In fact, I think I subsidise
those that
aways drive, because my net impact on the roads and environment (maintenance and congestion costs, air and other forms of pollution) is less than that of many others.

Holden Caulfield 4:15 pm 07 May 15

I’m not a very experienced cyclist on the road, but I do ride on the road a few times a week. The reason I say I’m not very experienced is because I won’t ride on a busy road and unless it’s a quieter feeder street in the suburbs I won’t ride on a road without a dedicated cycle lane.

Where I can I will use a separate cycle path/shared path.

I have a minor philosophical objection to bicycles and cars/trucks etc sharing the same piece of road. Not because I don’t want to share, but because the laws of physics and the inattention of too many road users (that’s everyone, cars, trucks, bikes) provides me with a never ending amount of evidence that shows it’s a bad idea for any cyclist who values their own well being.

There’s no point in being a righteous cyclist when a pissed off or totally unaware motorist clips your wheel or doors you.

Solidarity 3:45 pm 07 May 15

HenryBG said :

tim_c said :

Innovation said :

…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….

Seriously? A raised rubber strip to demark the lanes through intersections? It hurts just to think about what that would do to a motorcyclist trying to make a turn in wet weather.

You mean motorcyclists might have to drive at a sensible speed in order to stay alive?

Hit slippery plastic while turning a motorcycle, even at 1km/h, and you’re going down.

aussie2 said :

Serious riders need a place where they can ride, at speed, in safety. Only an off road, dedicated lane similar to a walking type footpath but a little wider than that. Building on the apron-there is a cost either way. Maybe it is about time our serious cyclists paid a fee for the privilege.

Serious drag racers were willing to pay for their own dragway…

aussie2 2:49 pm 07 May 15

Serious riders need a place where they can ride, at speed, in safety. Only an off road, dedicated lane similar to a walking type footpath but a little wider than that. Building on the apron-there is a cost either way. Maybe it is about time our serious cyclists paid a fee for the privilege.

HenryBG 1:01 pm 07 May 15

tim_c said :

Innovation said :

…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….

Seriously? A raised rubber strip to demark the lanes through intersections? It hurts just to think about what that would do to a motorcyclist trying to make a turn in wet weather.

You mean motorcyclists might have to drive at a sensible speed in order to stay alive?

tim_c 9:42 am 07 May 15

Innovation said :

…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….

Seriously? A raised rubber strip to demark the lanes through intersections? It hurts just to think about what that would do to a motorcyclist trying to make a turn in wet weather.

bryansworld 9:31 am 07 May 15

tim_c said :

bryansworld said :

I’m a regular commuter cyclist, but think it is too risky to use on-road bike lanes – excelt where they are physically separated, like the the Civic Cycle Loop. BTW the Bunda Street revamp is not working. Cars still travle too fast, and pedestrians are (understandably) too timid to assert their right of way!

So it’s pretty much the same as any other “shared zone” in Canberra then?

Worse I think, because there isn’t adequate infrastructure in the redevelopment to cue motorists that it is not a normal road. Keeping the parking down both sides of Bunda Street deson’t help either.

tim_c 9:16 am 07 May 15

wildturkeycanoe said :

Rollersk8r said :

farnarkler said :

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.

Yes I am aware – and I regularly weigh up the risks. I work at the Glebe Park end of Civic and Northbourne saves me as much as 10 minutes each way.

Another confirmation that cyclists are indeed only interested in getting from A to B as quickly as possible, accepting risk of injury for just 10 measly minutes even if a safer alternative is provided.

Unlike all the motorists who blitz down the Tuggeranong Parkway instead of taking the perfectly good Lady Denman Dr just nearby – don’t you know there are generally less crashes on Lady Denman Dr?

tim_c 8:36 am 07 May 15

Bajar said :

I was struck once, maybe twice per week by cyclists on the footpath….

You need to learn to share the shared path, that’s why it’s called a “shared” path, because it’s a path that is for shared use. Leave room for other path users, that includes cyclists and other pedestrians.

Secondly, if a cyclist is approaching, don’t try to “get out of their way” – you should already be walking in such a position that you are sharing the path and allowing adequate space for other path users (refer above) – by the time you are aware of an approaching cyclist, he/she has almost certainly planned to go around you, if you move, you’ll more than likely walking INTO their path around where you WERE walking.

Just keep left and stay left and nobody gets hurt – and don’t forget to look first if you’re entering, crossing or leaving the shared path.

tim_c 8:28 am 07 May 15

bryansworld said :

I’m a regular commuter cyclist, but think it is too risky to use on-road bike lanes – excelt where they are physically separated, like the the Civic Cycle Loop. BTW the Bunda Street revamp is not working. Cars still travle too fast, and pedestrians are (understandably) too timid to assert their right of way!

So it’s pretty much the same as any other “shared zone” in Canberra then?

Maya123 6:03 am 07 May 15

OpenYourMind said :

Bajar said :

Ezy said :

Bajar said :

I was struck once, maybe twice per week by cyclists on the footpath.

You were struck… As in they hit you? As in literally rammed into you – did you fall, were you hurt? And this was happening to you once or twice a week?

REALLY?

REALLY?

Yes, really. Usually a clip on the arm. One occasion I was rammed into – resulted in a police report. Of course, nothing was done.

Either you are very unlucky or a little economical with the truth. I’ve been a cycle path user (cyclist, runner and walker) and in 35 years I’ve never so much as been brushed by a cyclist.

Same here. I have often walked on the paths and have never been clipped by a cyclist; not even close. But then I keep left and look behind me before changing direction. I have to agree with
OpenYourMind here. Although perhaps you don’t keep left, change direction without checking behind, wander all over the path and wear earphones. This would increase your chances of being hit. Otherwise, I don’t believe you.

OpenYourMind 3:43 pm 06 May 15

Bajar said :

Ezy said :

Bajar said :

I was struck once, maybe twice per week by cyclists on the footpath.

You were struck… As in they hit you? As in literally rammed into you – did you fall, were you hurt? And this was happening to you once or twice a week?

REALLY?

REALLY?

Yes, really. Usually a clip on the arm. One occasion I was rammed into – resulted in a police report. Of course, nothing was done.

Either you are very unlucky or a little economical with the truth. I’ve been a cycle path user (cyclist, runner and walker) and in 35 years I’ve never so much as been brushed by a cyclist.

Bajar 11:20 am 06 May 15

Ezy said :

Bajar said :

I was struck once, maybe twice per week by cyclists on the footpath.

You were struck… As in they hit you? As in literally rammed into you – did you fall, were you hurt? And this was happening to you once or twice a week?

REALLY?

REALLY?

Yes, really. Usually a clip on the arm. One occasion I was rammed into – resulted in a police report. Of course, nothing was done.

Rollersk8r 10:35 am 06 May 15

Pork Hunt said :

Rollersk8r said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

Rollersk8r said :

farnarkler said :

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.

Yes I am aware – and I regularly weigh up the risks. I work at the Glebe Park end of Civic and Northbourne saves me as much as 10 minutes each way.

Another confirmation that cyclists are indeed only interested in getting from A to B as quickly as possible, accepting risk of injury for just 10 measly minutes even if a safer alternative is provided.

Haha! Yes, speed is my only concern. Damn every single cyclist who leaves their car at home and takes the quickest route! Damn them all!

Are people cycling for exercise or because they have short arms and long pockets and won’t pay for parking. If for exercise, go the long way, after all, no pain no gain…

Problem solved – if we all just accepted longer equals more exercise, then why have cycle lanes at all?

Postalgeek 9:49 am 06 May 15

Minz said :

Everyone just needs to chill out a bit. I’ve driven and cycled for years in Canberra, and, frankly, 99.9% of the time, the annoying unaware people getting in my way when I’m driving are other drivers. Cyclists, in my driving experience, are generally on the bike paths and hence not in my way.

Exactly. Unless you drive in on-road cycle lanes, you’re not being blocked, and it takes minimal skill to pass a cyclist safely and with little if any delay in suburban streets. The only time it’s a problem is when a driver lacking initiative won’t pass a cyclist. So even then it’s the driver blocking you, not the cyclist. Yes, there are some idiot cyclists that ride in an unreasonable manner, but they are occasional compared to the cars and trucks that do the overwhelming majority of the blocking on our roads.

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