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Solution to “Scofflaw Cyclists”

By Sgt.Bungers - 21 May 2010 39

The Scofflaw Cyclists of the Inner North post last month stirred up a mass of debate in this forum… as does any discussion regarding cyclists in this city.

My response was simple. Build an intersection that legally requires motor vehicle operators to get out of their vehicle and push it for 5 metres, and you’re likely to get a bunch of motor vehicle operators breaking the law as well. A cycle route cannot suddenly turn into a pedestrian route (pedestrian crossing), just because it intersects a road. That’s bound to create a situation where people are riding their bikes where they shouldn’t be.

Enter the Dutch way of doing things.

In this video we have a bike path intersecting bus lanes and tram lines in Utrecht. Utrecht is a city of 300,000 people, a similar size to Canberra. The intersection serves over 20,000 vehicles (including bicycles) per day. Look how it simply… works. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if all riders were legally required to dismount.

According to the post, 33% of all trips in Utrecht are made by bicycle. Currently in Canberra, 2.5% of trips to work are made by bicycle. Measly by comparison. Imagine how much Northbourne Ave would be freed up in peak times, if there were a proper dedicated bicycle route down the median strip, and even a quarter of motor car users switched to bicycles. Especially when you take this picture into account, which shows the space that 60 push bikes, vs 60 motor vehicles, vs 60 bus seats, take up.

With proper alternative transport, those who hop out of their cars, are likely to save time… if not… they’ll certainly save money, and their health will improve. If 33% of car drivers in Canberra switched to alternative transport (when we finally get a proper alternative transport solution in place)… current road infrastructure will be significantly freed up, speeding up travel time for those who must drive.

So why is it that so many Canberrans are so opposed to bicycle solutions and other alternative transport? Why is it that any post about people who ride bicycles in this forum seems to stir up a hatred so deep, with arguments so illogical, it can almost be compared to race “debates” in Cronulla?

What’re your thoughts?

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39 Responses to
Solution to “Scofflaw Cyclists”
p1 11:55 am 21 May 10

All I see are people in normal clothes with normal posture simply strapping on a faster means of being a pedestrian

I think right here (along with the smaller size of the city) is where one of the biggest differences lay. If you live a couple of km from work, you can cruise there at low speed, in your heavy coat on your upright bike. Probably don’t even need a helmet to mess up your hair.

If you have to do fifteen km up and down hills to get to work, you will either need to take an hour or two, going slow in your heavy coat, or ride quickly, getting hot and sweaty.

Most of Canberra’s population live a decent distance from work. They will either take their riding a bit more seriously or drive.

MOCS 11:50 am 21 May 10

Aren’t 90% of paralympian ex-cyclists. You really have to have a screw loose to ride a bike on the road in Canberra. I sh*t bricks sharing the road in a car with these inattentive/aggressive/impatient codpieces.

phototext 11:34 am 21 May 10

“What annoys me though is the arrogance that some cyclists have that makes them think that they are better than everyone else.”

That’s because we are, we get a special certificate telling us so when we purchase a new bicycle. There’s a secret handshake too. Ooops, I’ve said too much, the brethren will be onto me.

harvyk1 11:30 am 21 May 10

bugmenot, it’s not the same thing. Rego is assigned to a car, and is not transferable, thus if I only buy rego for one of my cars, I’m not allowed to drive the other until I purchase rego for it as well. But this is getting off topic.

Let’s instead look at how Canberra already has a very extensive network of unused bike paths (I know they are there, I used to use them daily). Let’s talk about how cyclists would rather risk their lives on the road rather than use the existing bike paths, which often run parallel with the roads. Let’s talk about how for some cyclists, breaking laws, such as speeding laws becomes a badge of honour, as is the ability of cyclists to outrun police.

Maybe what needs to happen is the cyclists start extensively using the existing infrastructure which is already in place before complaining about gaps.

MsCheeky 11:06 am 21 May 10

I’d love to ride to work, and used to when I lived in Lyons and worked in Civic. But being a bit more geriatric and not so tough now, the ride from Jerra to Civic is not for me. That said, I agree with what dtc had to say, including the highly amusing idea of registering pedestrians.

She/he does raise an interesting point about bicycles in asian cities. What I saw being carried on bicycles in Vietnam boggled my mind. The mix of traffic is absolutely frantic there, but it works, and my guess is that it works because people accommodate each other. So yes, ride your bike over pedestrian crossings by all means – just do it safely. I think if any cyclists get on my wick, it’s the dickheads that hurtle around the pedestrian areas of Civic, such as City Walk, much, much faster than is safe. Fortunately, there’s not too many of them.

And did anyone notice the guy in the video with two bicycles – riding one and pulling the other one alongside? Good work in that density!

bugmenot 10:37 am 21 May 10

we pay rego – we just leave the car at home and use the bike instead.

dtc 10:35 am 21 May 10

I ride to work everyday – just to let people know my ‘loyalties’. But to change things you either need extensive infrastructure (separate bike paths – like in the vid) or cars have to put up with cyclists all over the road (like in Asia). Which of those is going to happen?

Also, I doubt most people are willing to ride for more than, say, 20 minutes each way, which is about a 10km radius (for an average rider). In Canberra that is pretty limiting – essentially inner North for Civic and inner South for Barton; that does not cover that many people. Keep in mind what Harvyk1 says – 7/8 times as many people in Utrecht will be able to use the same path (or, putting it another way, the average commuting time for the average person is likely much shorter and, hence, cycling is more likely to be attractive).

The Netherlands is, of course, notoriously flat – will people ride from (say) O’Connor to Belconnen uphill all the way?

As a result, as already happens in Canberra, you get some bike paths (the one from Dickson into Civic as a prime example) that are heavily used – flat and commuting time less than 20 min. Apart from lighting this path at night during winter, will having a ‘better’ path actually increase its use? Obviously there are some particular routes that could be significantly improved (Northbourne Ave), but its not going to change the basic fact that most people will not ride no matter what.

BTW – in terms of ‘registering’ a bike – lets do it. Of course, the same logic applies to pedestrians (they get footpaths, traffic crossings etc, all for ‘free’), so I assume everyone will agree to register themselves and walk around with their registration tags on. And presumably people with eyes who enjoy looking at our trees will register their eyes, after all the trees are provided ‘free’ and people get upset when they are cut down. Lets not forget people who use public toilets, libraries, sports fields – all ‘free’, people should pay for them.

Spoono 10:17 am 21 May 10

Everyone in Utrecht has the exact same bike…..creepy

troll-sniffer 10:10 am 21 May 10

As a daily cyclist in Canbra myself I notice a couple of things straight up: Firstly, no lycra-clad smart-arse riders anywhere. All I see are people in normal clothes with normal posture simply strapping on a faster means of being a pedestrian, and secondly the crossing depicted in the video is pretty unique and I can’t think of anywhere in Canberra that has a similar setup, with only buses and rail traffic to contend with.

Aussie society has a phobia about bikes that starts as early as primary school when it becomes uncool to ride, especially in the middle years of high school. Many many parents are also guilty of contributing to the reliance on cars by needlessly taking their precious little ones to school in a car rather than making them walk or ride. The media’s ridiculous role in making our streets SEEM unsafe by over-reporting and sensationalising crimes and accidents from faraway places doesn’t help either.

The issue of Northbourne Ave cycle lanes should be a low-priority one simply because many other options exist for cyclists to rapidly transit most of the inner north. Practically all the inner north suburban streets are relatively quiet and there’s a perfectly good bike path from Hackett and Lyneham all the way into the city. I personally travel via the streets one or two blocks back from Northbourne, much quicker than waiting up to two minutes or more at all the intersections on Northbourne itself.

From one end of Canbra to the other, cycleways, footpaths, suburban streets and main thoroughfares such as Hindmarsh Drive or Commonwealth/Adelaide Ave, I never feel unsafe due to one item on my bike that I feel should be compulsory over helmets and bells: my rear view mirror. IMHO any bike mixing it with other vehicles on the roads, cycle lane or not, should be required to have a rear view mirror. Much the same as in a car, I cannot imagine riding without one now.

Congestion charging for motorists on thoroughfares that become clogged is the only really sensible way to sort out who really needs to add to congestion. It is a fair and transparent way of sorting out motorist’s priorities and now with things like RAPID number plate recognition systems it is starting to become feasible. Anything else is just fiddling while waiting for Rome to burn.

harvyk1 10:06 am 21 May 10

Maybe, before you start complaining that Canberran’s don’t embrace the bicycle, and you use some city in the Netherlands to prove your point, you should actually compare apples with apples, as total population is realistically a relatively meaningless number, area and density is a far more valuable number to work with…

According to Wikipedia, Canberra’s area is 814.2km2. Utrecht is only 99.32km2. Also the population density in Utrecht is 3068 people per km2, whilst Canberra is only 428 people per km2.

Now I’m no mathematician, but I do believe that means that Utrecht is roughly 8 times smaller than Canberra in geographical size, and its population density is 7 times higher than Canberra. In fact is 1.5 times higher than Sydney, and it is closer in density to Los Angeles.

So find me a city with a similar sized area and population density as Canberra, which have totally embraced the bicycle, and then come back and say we could be doing it better.

nexus6 9:52 am 21 May 10

“What annoys me though is the arrogance that some cyclists have that makes them think that they are better than everyone else.”

what arrogance are you talking about? Im genuinely interested to know why people think some cyclists are arrogant?

BenjaminL 9:46 am 21 May 10

Yeh that’s what we need, more roadworks to accomodate a measly 2.5% of the Canberra population who cycle. A great way to spend my taxes.

On the other hand if Cyclists agreed to pay rego, then that would would mean extra funds for infrastructure such as these grand ideas. Oh but wait, you guys don’t want to do that, you just think it should be free. ok.

nexus6 9:45 am 21 May 10

Im a cyclist. I also use the bike paths for jogging. The number of times i shake my head at stupid cyclists far outnumbers the number if stupid drivers. However I am also bemused at the rage people feel towards cyclists when the vast majority of stupid things cyclists do will almost always only result in death or injury to themselves. Why so angry?
Id love to see a massive bike lane down the middle of northbourne with traffic lights. we dont need more roads, we need less cars.
I cant believe how many people ride on the road with little or no lights. having a light thats about half as bright as a cigarette is not a light people.

kevn 9:34 am 21 May 10

They’re not wearing helmets.

lobster 9:34 am 21 May 10

I have no problems with cyclists as long as they stay out of the way cars and don’t hold things up.

What annoys me though is the arrogance that some cyclists have that makes them think that they are better than everyone else.

Have you been seething on the other thread and researching this comeback for a month?

I think that the the cyclists must walk crossing is stupid. I see no difference between walking accross and slowing down before the crossing, checking for any immediate vehicles and then riding accross safely. I believe that the the intention of the law/sign/whatever is to stop cyclists from barrelling over the crossing without checking for traffic and causing or almost causing an accident.

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