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Separate bike paths will save lives in the ACT

By Anne Treasure - 10 January 2017 64

Separated bike path on the Civic Cycle Loop

Pedal Power ACT is calling for a trial of infrastructure that separates bike riders from motor vehicles on roads, and pedestrians on paths.

Sharing the roads and paths around Canberra relies on the understanding and mutual respect of all users. Unfortunately there is a large amount of unpredictability inherent in human behaviour – and that applies to people driving, walking, riding bikes, roller-skating, skateboarding, walking dogs and children.

Accidents on shared infrastructure around Canberra in recent months have sparked discussion about how to make our roads and paths safer for all users. There is no doubt that infrastructure separating people riding bikes from people walking and driving cars will save lives in the ACT.

We should all keep left, slow down and give a wide berth to vulnerable users, keep control of children and dogs, and be vigilant and aware at all times – but even adult humans have a tough time maintaining focus and direction constantly, let alone expecting young children, dogs and ute drivers to obey the rules of polite society.

The Metre Matters trial in the ACT has so far demonstrated that motor vehicle drivers are willing to make room for people riding bikes on the road, and Pedal Power ACT members report feeling safer because of this rule. But only separated infrastructure can ensure the safety of vulnerable road users, with driver distraction or reduced vision most likely to cause an accident.

Should the ACT Government build more separated infrastructure for cyclists ie dedicated bike paths/lanes around Canberra?

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There have been calls to restrict speed to less than the current limit of 50km per hour on shared paths. This would limit their usefulness and reduce the number of bike riders who use the paths as a safe way to commute. Many people who ride bikes to and from work use the paths because they don’t feel safe on the roads. These people – including many women and parents riding with children – would not ride if roads were the only option.

The Government’s 2015 Active Travel Framework sets out a policy for separated cycle infrastructure. An initial trial in 2015 of low profile separators showed that they can change driver behaviour and help convince more people to use the commuter routes.

The ACT Government clearly recognises the importance of active travel in the creation of a sustainable city, and the role that urban planning needs to play. Separated infrastructure is a given to encourage as many people as possible to use bicycles as a primary form of transport.

Appropriate sites for the trials would need to be established through consultation with the ACT community. Proposed sites include heavily-populated roads around Civic and town centres like Belconnen, Woden and Tuggernong, and the paths connected with leisure areas around Lake Burley Griffin, Lake Tuggeranong and Lake Ginninderra.

Segregated bike paths along roads and footpaths are in use in the city on the Civic Cycle Loop, and this initiative should be extended into town centres across the ACT, with a long term view to joining up the separated infrastructure to make Canberra the best, safest city to ride a bike in Australia.

What’s Your opinion?


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64 Responses to
Separate bike paths will save lives in the ACT
1
steveu 8:22 am
10 Jan 17
#

Walking is a very healthy activity just as cycling is. Shared pathways have existed for a while. I see no reason why Cyclists should demand their own infrastructure as they do not want to share this infrastructure. However, cyclists expect (and have put significant funds into publicity campaigns) for motorists to share the roads with them. Strikes me as a double standard.
I do think that where cycle lanes have been put in place, then cyclists should be required by law to use them when they are available.
And I am a cyclist in case you are wondering.

2
Dr_Hoon 9:02 am
10 Jan 17
#

Hey steveu, as a cyclist I’m sure you’d agree that not all ‘cyclists’ are the same and not all ‘cycling’ is the same. Lots of research on how much of the existing on-road cycling infrastructure (i.e. painted bike ‘lanes’), offers no actual protection and favours masculine cyclists that are comfortable with taking risks. If you were to say “All cyclists that insist on riding as hard and fast as possible should ride on paths and lanes that minimise risks to pedestrians and themselves” then I would agree with you. We need to make sure that as a society we build infrastructure to meet the massive unmet demand for cycling.

3
pink little birdie 10:55 am
10 Jan 17
#

These poll options are terrible.

If roads are 80km or above or a main commuter route there should either be a separated cycle lane on the road or a shared path that runs next to the road.
When I was cycling to work it bugged me enough to write to our MLA’s that to stay on the shared paths you couldn’t remain on the southern side of the road for the length of Ginninderra drive between Heydon drive and Aikman drive and if you swapped to the north side of Ginninderra drive to get to the path along Aikman drive You had to cross the lights on the east side and then the south side of the Aikman Ginninderra intersection instead of just crossing on the west side of the intersection (basically being a 3 way intersection with the north entry closed off except to the substation).

Even now walking to work as a pedestrian there is a 3 way intersections that mean for a pedestrian to get between the north side and the South east side where the most trafficked route they need to cross 2 roads instead of just the one. Intersection of Luxton and Lathlain streets.

4
Anne Treasure 10:55 am
10 Jan 17
#

steveu said :

Walking is a very healthy activity just as cycling is. Shared pathways have existed for a while. I see no reason why Cyclists should demand their own infrastructure as they do not want to share this infrastructure. However, cyclists expect (and have put significant funds into publicity campaigns) for motorists to share the roads with them. Strikes me as a double standard.
I do think that where cycle lanes have been put in place, then cyclists should be required by law to use them when they are available.
And I am a cyclist in case you are wondering.

I agree that walking is a very healthy activity, and we should strive to make it as safe as possible. Part of that is making sure that vulnerable pedestrians like small children are protected on shared paths – but it’s tough, as kids aren’t always cooperative and often do things without warning. The best solution is surely to remove the risk of a collision with a bike, by creating cycle-only infrastructure for the protection of all active travel participants.

And it’s great to hear that you’re a cyclist, and that you’ve never had any issues with sharing the roads and paths – if only everyone had the same experience bike-riding in Canberra!

5
Maya123 11:12 am
10 Jan 17
#

steveu said :

Walking is a very healthy activity just as cycling is. Shared pathways have existed for a while. I see no reason why Cyclists should demand their own infrastructure as they do not want to share this infrastructure. However, cyclists expect (and have put significant funds into publicity campaigns) for motorists to share the roads with them. Strikes me as a double standard.
I do think that where cycle lanes have been put in place, then cyclists should be required by law to use them when they are available.
And I am a cyclist in case you are wondering.

steveu said :

Walking is a very healthy activity just as cycling is. Shared pathways have existed for a while. I see no reason why Cyclists should demand their own infrastructure as they do not want to share this infrastructure. However, cyclists expect (and have put significant funds into publicity campaigns) for motorists to share the roads with them. Strikes me as a double standard.
I do think that where cycle lanes have been put in place, then cyclists should be required by law to use them when they are available.
And I am a cyclist in case you are wondering.

Actually, initially the paths were known as cycle paths, as that’s why they were made. They were constructed for people to cycle on and might not exist but for that. It was later they were called shared paths. I too sometimes cycle (before I retired I commuted most days to work by bike), but I will only use an on-road cycle lane as a last resort. Many people will not use an on-road cycle lane, as they are considered dangerous (perceived or otherwise). Forcing people to use them would lower the numbers of potential people cycling, leading to more congestion on the road, etc.
Having separate paths for cycling, does not exclude people walking. All the separate cycle paths I have seen (in this country) have had a separate walking path beside it, or it has been wide enough to have a line to indicate separation of people walking and cycling.
Of course, how that works with some people (I say some, as most people are good and keep left, as I do, when walking on the paths) still refusing to keep their dog on a controlled (short) lead, their children under control, and looking before they cross any path, and insisting the ‘five’ of them need to spread across both sides of the path and they have preference and you can damn well ride off the path and go around them; this near a keep left sign (this last example happens).

6
Charlotte Harper 11:51 am
10 Jan 17
#

pink little birdie said :

These poll options are terrible.

If roads are 80km or above or a main commuter route there should either be a separated cycle lane on the road or a shared path that runs next to the road.
When I was cycling to work it bugged me enough to write to our MLA’s that to stay on the shared paths you couldn’t remain on the southern side of the road for the length of Ginninderra drive between Heydon drive and Aikman drive and if you swapped to the north side of Ginninderra drive to get to the path along Aikman drive You had to cross the lights on the east side and then the south side of the Aikman Ginninderra intersection instead of just crossing on the west side of the intersection (basically being a 3 way intersection with the north entry closed off except to the substation).

Even now walking to work as a pedestrian there is a 3 way intersections that mean for a pedestrian to get between the north side and the South east side where the most trafficked route they need to cross 2 roads instead of just the one. Intersection of Luxton and Lathlain streets.

Happy to add additional poll options or tweak the existing options if you have suggestions, @pink little birdie?

7
Maryann Mussared 1:16 pm
10 Jan 17
#

I am now concerned about safety of pedestrians, especially older people. People ride their bikes without bells or don’t use them. They have no way of being identified. Separate paths would be great and surely we have enough space to do this? Bicyclists also need to look at their attitude. Why do some people ride along Alexandrina Drive on the southern lake foreshore which is narrow with uneven edges. Drivers pull out to overtake on virtual blind corners. Does someone have to have a major accident for something to be done. Why don’t these bicyclists use the bicycle path that runs from the back of the Hyatt to Woden? Once upon a time pedestrians were fined for “J” walking – i.e. if you crossed the road within 50 yards of a pedestrian crossing you were fined. I don’t understand why a bike lane was built on Northbourne when there is a perfectly good cycle path running from Barry Drive up to Mouatt. Hmmm?

8
wildturkeycanoe 2:06 pm
10 Jan 17
#

First cyclists used roads, quite legally for many decades since Australia was born. Then also were allowed to ride on footpaths. Then they wanted cycle paths which were built at quite some expense and then on-road cycle lanes were pushed for, again at quite a cost to the taxpayer. So now they can legally ride anywhere they want, even across pedestrian crossings. After all of this they now want shared paths to be exclusive to cyclists only?? At what point does all this madness stop? When nobody is allowed to walk or drive a car anymore? The cycle lobby has pushed and pushed and pushed, getting their way almost every time. To now want sole ownership of the paths most of them don’t even use is just ludicrous. What happens when a shared path merges into a footpath? Does the footpath, filled with pedestrians, provide the same safety net? No. Perhaps cyclists should be banned from footpaths, considering they are designed for pedestrian traffic in the first place.
I just don’t understand where the cycle lobby gets off with their holier than thou attitude to society. They are never satisfied, always wanting more and more. I say it ends here. If they want to have shared paths exclusively for themselves, then roads and footpaths [including pedestrian crossings] should be off limits with heavy penalties for using them on two wheels.

9
Holden Caulfield 2:09 pm
10 Jan 17
#

Anne Treasure said :

And it’s great to hear that you’re a cyclist, and that you’ve never had any issues with sharing the roads and paths – if only everyone had the same experience bike-riding in Canberra!

Utopia doesn’t exist.

Pardon the bad pun, but the horse for separated lanes for pedestrians, cyclists and motorised has long since bolted. Just as we expect motorists to show patience and consideration for cyclists, we should expect cyclists to show patience and consideration for pedestrians, of all ages. And as someone who gets myself around Lake Burley Griffin very regularly as both pedestrian and cyclist* I know that patience and anticipation is required regardless of my mode of transport.

The problem is, the more serious the cyclist, the less patience they often have for pedestrians. Not all of course, but enough to create a bad wrap for cyclists.

*I don’t wear lycra and I *only* have a MTB so I am well aware and thankful that many cyclists wouldn’t consider me a to be a real cyclist.

10
nnights 3:51 pm
10 Jan 17
#

Although I too cycle along Lake Burley Griffin at times, I have to say that the speed of some cyclists along this shared path is absolutely frightening. I cannot wait for a separate path for cyclists, I feel harrassed and on edge walking there, especially with my small dog. I have seen small children and mothers with prams jump out of the way of these menacing racing machines ,rather than be free to enjoy a peaceful stroll along one of the major attractions of the city of Canberra. I , and others, have been abused by cyclists for walking on the track, maybe we didnt get out of their way fast enough and they had to slow down for us. It has been so traumatic at times that I have now chosen to walk elsewhere. Bring on the separate infrastructure! I also dont think cyclists belong on the roads unless on separate cycle paths, they are no match for cars.

11
buzz819 5:45 pm
10 Jan 17
#

How many cyclists and pedestrians have died as a result of collisions on bike paths
?

12
steveu 6:09 pm
10 Jan 17
#

Maya123 said :

Actually, initially the paths were known as cycle paths, as that’s why they were made. They were constructed for people to cycle on and might not exist but for that. It was later they were called shared paths.

Yes I am aware of this, since the 1970-80s. The dept of territories used to employ someone on a bicycle to identify where the repairs were required on the paths in those days as well…

Maya123 said :

I too sometimes cycle (before I retired I commuted most days to work by bike), but I will only use an on-road cycle lane as a last resort. Many people will not use an on-road cycle lane, as they are considered dangerous (perceived or otherwise). Forcing people to use them would lower the numbers of potential people cycling, leading to more congestion on the road, etc.

Seems like a significant waste of money, if this is the case. I think if you ride in them single file then they are quite safe. If you are stupid enough to side two abreast in these lanes (why the law was changed not his I do not know, apart from the significant lobbying capability of pedal power act I suspect) then I think you are taking your life into your own hands and I have little sympathy for those who do.

Maya123 said :

Having separate paths for cycling, does not exclude people walking. All the separate cycle paths I have seen (in this country) have had a separate walking path beside it, or it has been wide enough to have a line to indicate separation of people walking and cycling.
Of course, how that works with some people (I say some, as most people are good and keep left, as I do, when walking on the paths) still refusing to keep their dog on a controlled (short) lead, their children under control, and looking before they cross any path, and insisting the ‘five’ of them need to spread across both sides of the path and they have preference and you can damn well ride off the path and go around them; this near a keep left sign (this last example happens).

Keeping left should be easy for people to understand. It would be great to have wider pathways, though this is what we have got here. So best to use it.

13
Elias Hallaj (aka CB 10:41 pm
10 Jan 17
#

Sensible article. It’s just common sense that if you can separate traffic it helps reduce collisions. Safer cycling infrastructure will also encourage more cyclists. More cyclists will mean less congestion and less competition for limited parking for people who have no choice but to drive.

14
Anne Treasure 7:12 am
11 Jan 17
#

wildturkeycanoe said :

Perhaps cyclists should be banned from footpaths, considering they are designed for pedestrian traffic in the first place.

A great many of the shared paths around Canberra were originally built as cycle paths, and pedestrian use was only introduced later. Which is not to say that pedestrians should not have free use of them, but as the population has grown there is increased demand and congestion on the paths, and we have to accommodate this growth somehow. The safest and healthiest option is separate infrastructure. The more people who ride bikes, the healthier our city will be.

15
Anne Treasure 7:14 am
11 Jan 17
#

nnights said :

Although I too cycle along Lake Burley Griffin at times, I have to say that the speed of some cyclists along this shared path is absolutely frightening. I cannot wait for a separate path for cyclists, I feel harrassed and on edge walking there, especially with my small dog. I have seen small children and mothers with prams jump out of the way of these menacing racing machines ,rather than be free to enjoy a peaceful stroll along one of the major attractions of the city of Canberra. I , and others, have been abused by cyclists for walking on the track, maybe we didnt get out of their way fast enough and they had to slow down for us. It has been so traumatic at times that I have now chosen to walk elsewhere. Bring on the separate infrastructure! I also dont think cyclists belong on the roads unless on separate cycle paths, they are no match for cars.

Yes agreed, the issue of differing bike-riding styles is an important consideration – only separate infrastructure can make it safer for everyone.

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