Beautiful weather, last days of the school holidays, decided to take Junior Gasman (aged 9) to the opening weekend of the National Arboretum.
With consideration to health, environment, carbon and fun, we decided to ride our bicycles. From Belconnen to the front gate of the Arboretum, we had bicycle paths and lanes. At the main entrance to the Arboretum, the bike paths and all other bicycle facilities ended.
Junior Gasman managed to ride his bike all the way to the top of the lookout without stopping once. He was very proud of himself – its a steep climb! We had to share to road with cars all the way. There is no bike lane and no bike path. It was somewhat dangerous for us, and very annoying for the cars. There is a thin crumbling shoulder along the road that is not designated as a bike lane, and would not comply with Australian Standards for a bike lane.
At the top, and at the Visitors Centre, there is parking for hundreds of cars, but not a single bike rack. We and the dozens of other cyclists already there had to lean our bikes agains the walls of the Visitors Centre.
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Here’s the thing: The Arboretum is the latest and greatest of Canberra’s tourist attractions. It is an outdoor recreation area, perfectly suited to a day’s family cycling. As a society, we are getting fatter, and spewing more carbon into the atmosphere. One simple, healthy and inexpensive way to counter this is to get more people riding bikes. But the planners did not think to make the road just a meter wider and make a proper bike lane. I am hoping that the bike racks are planned, but they haven’t yet been installed.
Lest this become another car vs bike thread, let me point out that for a very inexpensive outlay of a bike lane, the entire complex would benefit both cyclists AND car drivers. It would be better for everybody.
Let me propose a solution, for the cost of just a few signs. By my rough count, about 90% of the cars were choosing to do the 1km loop in an anti-clockwise direction – its the quickest and most direct route to the Visitors Centre. Why not make the loop road clockwise only for cars and anti-clockwise for bikes. That way, cars and bikes have their own lanes, without slowing or being a danger to each other, and still everybody gets to go where they want.
Or is that too simple?