Path pressures: push for more data to improve network safety

Ian Bushnell 1 July 2020 63
ACT's shared paths

Busier than ever: more data is needed on who is using the ACT’s shared paths, says Pedal Power. Photo: Facebook, Pedal Power.

The ACT’s cycling lobby is pushing for the government to gather more up-to-date information on who is using the Territory’s increasingly congested shared paths as pressure points build between cyclists and walkers.

Canberrans have taken to the ACT’s path networks as part of a cycling and walking boom during the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown, and the familiar tensions have become heightened with the increased numbers competing for space on the city’s popular routes.

Pedal Power ACT CEO Ian Ross made a point of posting a blog noting the anger that was infecting the paths.

”People walking are frightened and angry about the speed and behaviour of people on bikes and scooters. Riders are angry about the behaviour of people who are walking and not paying attention, or not looking out for their animals,” he wrote.

He urged people to be more considerate so everyone could use the network safely but also said the problem was also one of design, and one that had been building for years.

He pointed to narrow paths and a lack of maintenance and planning.

While acknowledging the new paths and upgrades the government has embarked on as part of the COVID-19 infrastructure program, Mr Ross told Region Media that the city’s growing population and the need to reduce transport greenhouse emissions meant the government should get an accurate picture of the network and plan for a city with fewer cars on the roads.

”The first step is that we need some good monitoring on our paths network so we have some solid data about congestion,” he said.

The government needed to expand its monitoring and this could be done with sensors, video, or an annual headcount so the increasing variety of users, which also included e-bikes and skateboards, could be captured.

At present, a bike barometer using a ground sensor is located at the intersection of the Sullivan’s Creek shared path and MacArthur Avenue in O’Connor, but it only counts cyclists.

Ian Ross

Pedal Power ACT CEO Ian Ross: ”The first step is that we need some good monitoring on our paths network so we have some solid data about congestion.” Photo: File.

Mr Ross said getting more people on bikes was not the whole answer to cutting emissions but it was definitely part of the solution, and the cycling network had not kept pace with Canberra’s growth.

”There are parts of the network that have not been upgraded since they were first built in the 80s and 90s and some parts are really badly crumbling,” he said.

”We need a more consistent treatment, a rolling maintenance, not waiting till people fall over.”

He said the network had come to the point in the more popular areas, such as around Lake Burley Griffin, where separate bike and walking routes should be considered.

He said the central path of the lake route was also a principal bike route and part of the transport corridor but also one of the most delightful places to walk and sightsee.

”We have to make sure that our paths network accommodates all those things, and if they can’t then you need to provide people with separate routes,” he said.

But wider paths, particularly on principal routes, would make a difference.

The standard is 2.5 metres but three metres would be preferred on the principal cycling routes.

”For busy routes we should be looking at expanding them to four metres,” Mr Ross said, so a person riding a bike can pass walkers without ”freaking them out”.

”People still have to slow down and take care but it’s quite possible to have two people sharing a lane in both directions.”

Mr Ross said the government was setting people up to fail if the path networks were not designed to cater for multiple uses, including transport.

”We want them to be fast transport corridors so people can get to work in a timely way and we want people to feel safe when they are walking so we need to make sure of that when we’re designing these things,” he said.

Mr Ross said proper planning would mean infrastructure was already built into new suburbs and not have to be retrofitted. A case in point was Wright where there are no underpasses beneath John Gorton Drive.

He said the Belconnen cycleway project showed what could be achieved and Canberra had a good foundation to support cycling but the ACT could not rest on its laurels.

”We need a planned approach to maintain and expand our network as our city grows,” Mr Ross said.


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63 Responses to Path pressures: push for more data to improve network safety
TimboinOz TimboinOz 10:53 am 19 Jun 20

As a regular user of the shared paths network, and a coordinator of a walking group my experience of cyclists is not good. They rarely use their bell, IF they have one, and are too often rude and aggressive. This government’s cozy relationship with cyclists needs to change. Bicycles and cars on freeways isa DUMB idea. ? Physics.

    astro2 astro2 1:27 pm 19 Jun 20

    As a regular user of the shared paths network, both walking and cycling, I’ve never had a problem. There doesn’t seem to be any real statistics to back up the people complaining here, just their “feelings” – 0000h I think cyclists are rude! Really?

ChrisinTurner ChrisinTurner 5:14 pm 18 Jun 20

Around where I live we have one metre footpaths that are often partly overgrown because they are at the property boundary. We have to walk single file and step aside if someone comes in the other direction. In some streets there are no footpaths on either side and gardens have been extended to the kerb, which is not legal but is unenforced.

Randy Goldberg Randy Goldberg 11:42 am 15 Jun 20

How about we restart the discussion about licensing cyclists/eboard/escorted riders and/or registering bicycles, etc and raise some additional revenue to fund these projects.

Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 9:26 am 14 Jun 20

The more you know the better decisions you can make. Fair enough

Phil Hopkins Phil Hopkins 2:17 pm 13 Jun 20

Why cycle at peak times? Why do we have roads? 🤔

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 6:26 pm 13 Jun 20

    Likely the same reason many people drive at peak times; to get to work.

    Phil Hopkins Phil Hopkins 11:04 pm 13 Jun 20

    Julie Macklin why cycle on paths full of walkers, joggers

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:12 pm 13 Jun 20

    Phil Hopkins We can all share, otherwise one could say, why do people walk on paths, some originally built for people to cycle on? Just keep left, which is simple to do, and also look before changing direction. Also don't wear earphones and then complain about not hearing the bell or a shouted warning. I keep left when I walk on paths and haven't had a problem yet. Be honest, this is not about where people should cycle; you don't want bikes to exist at all.

Stephen Thearle Stephen Thearle 2:12 pm 13 Jun 20

As both a walker and a cyclist I am increasingly concerned about the proliferation of electric bikes. Not only do some inconsiderate riders tend to speed but they are quieter than normal bikes. Having had a few near misses during the lock down I wonder if they are being considered in the future planning proposals.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 11:40 am 13 Jun 20

I’d like to see a trial of a ‘cyclist only’ track around Lake Tuggeranong. If successful, then I’d add the much bigger Burley Griffin and Lake Ginninderra.

Let’s make our Lakes a great place for Walkers, Cyclists and those seeking outdoor spaces.

actcyclist actcyclist 8:40 am 13 Jun 20

You can all calm down, the crowding has completely fallen away now and there is plenty of space again. . I think all the extra walking and cycling Canberrans were doing is over.

Coralee Flood Coralee Flood 7:44 am 13 Jun 20

It's becoming dangerous walking around the lake. Some cyclists (too many) do not use a bell to warn pedestrians and get highly annoyed if they need to slow down. I stick to the left of the path but have had too many close calls with entitled cyclists. Rant over.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:29 am 15 Jun 20

    I stick to the left (edge beside the grass), but as I have never had a problem in many years I do wonder when someone says they stick to the left and have a problem. When you say left, do you mean against the edge of the path right beside the grass (where I walk and then don't have any conflict) or just left of the centre line?

    Coralee Flood Coralee Flood 10:37 am 15 Jun 20

    Julie Macklin yes that's where I walk. Several times I've had riders pass me on my left on the grass without warning because there were people walking in the opposite direction. Very scary!

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:49 am 15 Jun 20

    Coralee Flood That happens occasionally, but rarely. Fortunately that hasn't worried me that much. The person on a bike has cleared me and both of us go on our way okay.I do look around before changing direction to avoid any accidents.

Alex Elliott Alex Elliott 11:52 pm 12 Jun 20

How much more data do they need? Just go and walk around the lake on any day and you can see straight away. Separate paths are desperately needed and it's continuing to get worse. The Government keeps allowing more and more high density dwellings to be built leading to lots more people in Canberra and around the lake. They need to pull their finger out and do something. The community has been calling for changes for some time but it just falls on deaf ears.

Bill Gemmell Bill Gemmell 7:36 pm 12 Jun 20

Frankly, this is a bigger issue than cycling around the lakes. Something like streetlight data seems to be the way to go: https://venturebeat.com/2019/12/02/how-streetlight-data-uses-machine-learning-to-plug-cities-into-the-mobility-revolution/

Kay Jones Kay Jones 6:54 pm 12 Jun 20

Why? You all ride on the road anyway. Waste of tax payers money

    Juliane Samara Juliane Samara 8:24 am 13 Jun 20

    Kay Jones I never ride on the road unless totally unavoidable.

Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 5:37 pm 12 Jun 20

How about the users pays, in this case pedal power can pay for the required data to back their claims as opposed to the Gov doing it for them.

    Rob Langridge Rob Langridge 6:39 pm 12 Jun 20

    Marc Edwards And you'd trust data funded by a lobby group?

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 7:13 pm 12 Jun 20

    Rob Langridge no, but at least it can then be audited with small samples as opposed to doing the whole thing

    Daniel Oyston Daniel Oyston 12:18 pm 13 Jun 20

    Marc Edwards sounds efficient

Richard Willcoxson Richard Willcoxson 1:08 pm 12 Jun 20

Tell you what, how about the lobby groups perform this if they are so concerned with a lack of data. They won’t be happy until they have everything to thenselves

    Richard Willcoxson Richard Willcoxson 10:48 am 13 Jun 20

    Julie Macklin ok, so how do those comments answer my question? Will save me having to read through them all

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:04 am 13 Jun 20

    Richard Willcoxson So instead you want me to read through them all again for you.

dthet dthet 11:56 am 12 Jun 20

Consider changing shared path guidance for pedestrians and joggers to use on right hand side towards oncoming cyclists? A safer and more considerate use of shared paths.

    Maya123 Maya123 5:40 pm 12 Jun 20

    Dangerous and inconsiderate, because they can’t see what’s coming from behind them, and that the path isn’t clear for anyone to pass them. Some people who rudely walk on the right, also don’t move over quickly enough. This works with cars, because pedestrians will hurry to get out of the way with cars (or be killed), but bikes pose less danger, so they don’t consider the move to get out of the way as important.
    If a person cycling can’t go around someone walking on the wrong (right) side of the path they will need to stop. If they can’t go around someone walking on the left, they don’t need to stop, only slow.
    I bet you wouldn’t like to have to break when driving and come to stop on your commute to work, the shops, etc, because some pedestrian is walking towards you on the road, so why expect someone commuting by bicycle to do so.

    dthet dthet 6:57 am 15 Jun 20

    Maya123 I agree with you, the right of way remains with the pedestrian, however, with the proposed move (peds on right, cyclists left), the sight lines for both would be improved, and contact points reduced. Again I agree, if someone won’t move then there will be a compromise regardless of transport mode. This was a suggestion to improve what we have without having to spend. There will be pro’s and cons to any proposal. PS I cycle/walk/jog/drive and was suggesting potential travel improvements from a variety of perspectives. All the best. Dthet

Janet Mulgrue Janet Mulgrue 11:21 am 12 Jun 20

Why bother, most cyclists prefer to ride on the road any way.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:32 am 12 Jun 20

    If you have nothing more to add but your empty prejudices, without any facts in reality, better you don't.

    Janet Hutchison Janet Hutchison 3:52 pm 12 Jun 20

    Not helpful Janet. There is an issue with shared paths. Pedal Power is just asking Government to quantify it.

    Janet Mulgrue Janet Mulgrue 3:53 pm 12 Jun 20

    Janet Hutchison of course pedal power rules 🤬

    Lee McDowall Lee McDowall 4:34 pm 12 Jun 20

    Janet Mulgrue I'm with you Janet why waste money on bike paths

    Janet Mulgrue Janet Mulgrue 4:35 pm 12 Jun 20

    Lee McDowall finally some common sense 😀

    Steven Jones Steven Jones 5:25 pm 12 Jun 20

    Janet Mulgrue Don’t dare step off the paths onto a road then

    Kerry Mulgrue Kerry Mulgrue 7:29 pm 12 Jun 20

    Janet Hutchison The issue with shared paths is that the cyclists completely disregard the safety of the pedestrians and refuse to share the paths'

    Janet Hutchison Janet Hutchison 7:32 pm 12 Jun 20

    No it's not. But every group has a few people who behave badly. Sometimes 1 metre isn't wide enough for shared 2 way traffic.

    Emma Lowe Emma Lowe 9:16 pm 12 Jun 20

    Janet Only because the cyclepaths are in such bad condition

    Colette Robinson Colette Robinson 11:58 pm 12 Jun 20

    Kerry Mulgrue in my experience it’s the other way round.

    You can’t overtake a group of pedestrians if they ignore your bell while blocking the full width of the path between a rock face and a lake.

    Pedestrians also can’t hear the bell they complain about not hearing if they have their headphones in.

    Grandmothers also shouldn’t sporadically walk backwards all over the share path while videoing toddlers on their plastic trikes.

    Janet Hutchison Janet Hutchison 12:19 am 13 Jun 20

    I still say that in many places, 1 metre is not wide enough for two way traffic by pedestrians including dog walkers, toddlers and frail aged, prams, wheelchair users, runners and cyclists of all ages, abilities and speeds.

    Gil Maher Gil Maher 8:29 am 13 Jun 20

    how about we all think of others. People it’s not that hard. Walk on the left. Don’t speed. Ring the bell. It’s not rocket science.

    Ally Ryan Ally Ryan 6:11 am 15 Jun 20

    Colette Robinson yeah and cyclists shouldn’t scream at people to move off “their” path and shove them while they’re enjoying a walk around the lake. Some cyclists need to change their perspective about “shared” paths

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:56 am 15 Jun 20

    Janet Mulgrue There is a need in some places for separate cycling and walking paths, and then they need to be well signposted directing walkers and cyclists to the correct path. The present path could be handed over to walkers (and small children on bikes) and a wider, more direct path put in for cyclists. In some places, the present path might need to be modified to fit both.

    Kerry Mulgrue Kerry Mulgrue 6:19 pm 15 Jun 20

    Julie Macklin The paths are wide enough to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists but the cyclists need to slow down when approaching the pedestrians. However, many of them don't and often abuse the pedestrians for blocking the path. Also, it is a legal requirement to have a bell on a bike so the cyclist can warn the pedestrians that they are approaching, not many bikes have a bell. As the faster moving entity on the path the onus is on the cyclist to make it safe. But we all know that cyclists believe that everybody else is responsible for their safety.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 7:32 pm 15 Jun 20

    Kerry Mulgrue Needs to be separate paths. People want an efficient ride for their commute to work. Some countries are building cycling highways. Australia lags behind. Many paths are not wide enough and not all are built to the width standards. As for hearing bells, etc, too many pedestrians wear earphones and don't hear the bell, or the shouted, "Passing on the right." I both walk and cycle on the paths and have suffered that, and been shouted at to ring my bell. I shouted back, "I did, twice." They were wearing earphones, as many pedestrians do.

    Kerry Mulgrue Kerry Mulgrue 6:56 pm 16 Jun 20

    Cycling highways? Who's going to pay for that? Maybe we could establish cycling toll-ways, which, would make for very expensive cycle paths because they would have to be physically isolated.

    In the past people on FB have compared European cities to Australian cities indicating we should follow their example.

    However, European cities are more densely populated and compact with most commuting cyclists riding no more than 5 Kms. Commuting cyclists in Australia travel much farther taking much more time. Australians are more time poor and don't want to waste time commuting. That is why most commuters in Australia use motorised vehicles, either private or public.

    Cyclists will just have to accept that they have to share the recreation pathways with slower more vulnerable users, much the same as they expect drivers to accept when cyclists decide to use the roads.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 8:53 pm 16 Jun 20

    Kerry Mulgrue What a comment lacking in vision. Better cycling routes would make it safer and more convenient and so more attractive to cycle and do a positive thing, getting people out of their cars so by, reducing road congestion, improving the health of the community and as a side to that reducing health expenditure. Would you suggest a toll on the roads, and if not, why do you suggest this only for paths used by bikes, and not more expensive roads which take up more room? It's fortunate that most road expenditure comes out of general revenue, or if each individual road user had to cover the cost of road or path for their choice of vehicle, car users likely would have to pay more. It has been stated numerous times, that the cost of administration, does not make it worth while having registration for bikes. Besides, cities function better, with less car traffic filling up the city centre and roads, and more people need to be encouraged to leave their car at home and take public transport, cycle and walk. Or the congestion problems we will face with an increasing population, won't be pretty.

    Kerry Mulgrue Kerry Mulgrue 9:03 pm 16 Jun 20

    Julie Macklin The general revenue used for roads is raised by taxing petrol, so car owners do pay for our roads, Cyclists pay little or no indirect taxes associated with their chosen form of transport. You really need to look at the bigger picture and drop your cycle associated tunnel vision.

Joan Legge Joan Legge 10:56 am 12 Jun 20

How about a separate walking path for us old people,too dangerous on the shared pathways

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:40 am 12 Jun 20

    I agree with the separate walking path; that should have happened years ago. However, there should be no problem if you keep left, near the grassy edge. Depends what you call old, but I am well into my 60s, and I don't have a problem when I keep left, look around, including behind before changing direction. Be aware of other traffic.

    Zak Collins Zak Collins 12:13 pm 12 Jun 20

    Joan Legge separate path is definitely needed. There's always groups of old people walking next to each other taking up the whole path and getting in everyone's way

    Joan Legge Joan Legge 1:06 pm 12 Jun 20

    Zak Collins we have to hold each other up in case we trip.

    Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 1:27 pm 12 Jun 20

    Zak what are you suggesting. Old people walk in single file? Stay home so you can ride?

    Anura Samara Anura Samara 4:43 pm 12 Jun 20

    Chris Ellis just stay to the left. I ride, run and walk on the paths and there’s always groups spread out. The left side of the path is wide enough for two to walk side by side.

    Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 5:41 pm 12 Jun 20

    not with social distancing

Claire Sadler Claire Sadler 10:31 am 12 Jun 20

Maintenance is a huge problem and need more education for people using them. walkers, scooters, wheelchairs, trikes, bicycles, rollers bladers, roller skis, nordic walkers, prams, dogs on leads and off leads (must be under control). Its not just bikes and walkers. I ride a recumbent trike and paths are way too narrow. Lake route (all 34kms) need seperate bike and walker lanes.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:16 am 12 Jun 20

Mr Ross uses the word “we” no less than nine times in this article. What he really be saying is “cyclists”. How much more financial cosseting can these people get?

    Maya123 Maya123 12:40 pm 12 Jun 20

    They can only dream of getting as much as motorists do.

    TimboinOz TimboinOz 10:57 am 19 Jun 20

    Exactly, way too much closeness with the cyclists. I’m a former cycle-to-work chap and came to avoid riding on roads unless I had to. Why? Physics! The behaviour of too many cyclists on the paths network reflects a self-righteous arrogance that has been encouraged by this government.

Kerry Jackson Kerry Jackson 8:21 am 12 Jun 20

Round the lake especially on bridges, back of New Acton

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