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The Muenster Photo remade in Canberra. How much space do those cars need?

By johnboy 18 September 2012 37

allara st photo

Amongst car hating transport advocates the Muenster photograph is the stuff of legend.

Over the weekend before last the Cycling Promotion Fund recreated the photo on Allara Street here in Canberra:

On Sunday 9th September 69 volunteers, 69 bicycles, 60 cars and one bus gathered in Canberra to recreate a world-renowned photograph taken more than 20 years ago to demonstrate the advantages of bus and bicycle travel in congested cities.

The captured image shows the typical space occupied in a city street by three common modes of transport—cars, bicycles and a bus—and is being made available free of charge to organisations, group and individuals to help promote the efficiency of public transport and cycling in congested cities.

“The image succinctly illustrates the greater space efficiency of bus and bicycle travel,” spokesperson for the Cycling Promotion Fund (CPF), Mr Stephen Hodge said.

“In the space it takes to accommodate 60 cars, cities can accommodate around sixteen buses or more than 600 bikes.”

While many developed nations are embracing active travel, Australia is missing major opportunities to develop efficient and convenient transport options that have significant health and economic benefits.

“Eight out of ten Australian adults still use a private motor vehicle to travel to work or full-time study, just 14% take public transport, 4% walk and a mere 2% cycle, with 30% of these trips in the cities under 3km” Mr Hodge said.

“If Australians continue on this path it is estimated that productivity loss due to avoidable congestion—the economic loss due to the amount of time wasted in traffic—will be $20 billion by 2020.”


UPDATE 18/09/12 11:44: There’s also a video of making the photograph:

What’s Your opinion?


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37 Responses to
The Muenster Photo remade in Canberra. How much space do those cars need?
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cea075 8:27 am 20 Sep 12

aidan said :

cea075 said :

If I only lived a couple of kms from my work, I’d certainly entertain the thought of riding. 14kms is just too far for me to ride when the car trip is just over 10 minutes (and nice and warm)

You average 80 km/h on your commute!?

Close enough to that. Living in Weston, straight onto the parkway at 6am and into the edge of Civic. Normally very little traffic to worry about.

astrojax 4:01 pm 19 Sep 12

Masquara said :

what’s the betting those cyclo-hypocrites ALL own cars?

maybe, but they’re not adding to the peak hour congestion if they ride, eh? wouldn’t want to have to cycle away to the coast for the weekend, but driving single occupant car in peak hour vs cycle/public transport – that’s the debate here.

and so they’re not being hypocrites, are they?

davo101 12:56 pm 19 Sep 12

rhino said :

I’m assuming it’s a video of the start of a tour de France or something of that nature.

Not even close.

aidan 12:42 pm 19 Sep 12

cea075 said :

If I only lived a couple of kms from my work, I’d certainly entertain the thought of riding. 14kms is just too far for me to ride when the car trip is just over 10 minutes (and nice and warm)

You average 80 km/h on your commute!?

rhino 12:02 pm 19 Sep 12

..In much the same way that in nascar, cars can be literally touching bumpers at 250kph and side by side almost touching mirrors, but on your way to work, that isn’t quite a good idea.

rhino 12:00 pm 19 Sep 12

davo101 said :

rhino said :

Not really.

I can’t view the video as it’s blocked at work, but I’m assuming it’s a video of the start of a tour de france or something of that nature. I’d say there’s a difference between that sort of thing and riding to work where there are both cars and pedestrians to avoid and there isn’t really anywhere they can ride too many bikes side by side.

davo101 11:30 am 19 Sep 12

rhino said :

Bikes need a fair bit of room to safely move around. Probably realistically as much as the cars here in this photo or more….. Bike riding is actually not that great for space saving when you think about it. they are less wide, but u need a decent gap in front of them.

Not really.

rhino 10:32 am 19 Sep 12

Yeah it is a tad biased in terms of the actual space taken up on the roads. At the lights on northbourne, cars would be that packed in. Not quite on the parkway, although they are not that much farther apart in peakhour haha. Whereas the bikes and pedestrians would definitely be nowhere near that close. The pedestrians could potentially walk that close if they wanted to though, but if it came to be that congested, it’d be like time square in new york or something and we’d basically be out of luck for transport haha. Although I guess it goes to show that their subway system plus walking is what they have to resort to in that level of extreme congestion. There are still cars driving around, but it actually looks more difficult in those busiest times for bicycles to get around just because of the massively dense walking crowd. Bikes need a fair bit of room to safely move around. Probably realistically as much as the cars here in this photo or more. And those cars can potentially take 5 people or more. Car pooling could help here. But walking is the best for minimising the space, but obviously not possible from your house to work in civic unless you live already in civic. Bike riding is actually not that great for space saving when you think about it. they are less wide, but u need a decent gap in front of them.

BicycleCanberra 9:46 am 19 Sep 12

Antagonist said :

“The image succinctly illustrates the greater space efficiency of bus and bicycle travel,” spokesperson for the Cycling Promotion Fund (CPF), Mr Stephen Hodge said.”

Give me a steam roller and I will show you how those poncy cyclists can take up 100 times more road space than any bus 🙂

Motorist … coming through!

Be very careful what you joke about here! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZHathcQR8k

KB1971 9:43 am 19 Sep 12

Antagonist said :

“The image succinctly illustrates the greater space efficiency of bus and bicycle travel,” spokesperson for the Cycling Promotion Fund (CPF), Mr Stephen Hodge said.”

Give me a steam roller and I will show you how those poncy cyclists can take up 100 times more road space than any bus 🙂

Motorist … coming through!

Hahaha, you forgot one thing, a cyclist is faster than a steam roller……

Antagonist 8:43 am 19 Sep 12

“The image succinctly illustrates the greater space efficiency of bus and bicycle travel,” spokesperson for the Cycling Promotion Fund (CPF), Mr Stephen Hodge said.”

Give me a steam roller and I will show you how those poncy cyclists can take up 100 times more road space than any bus 🙂

Motorist … coming through!

c_c 11:40 pm 18 Sep 12

thy_dungeonman said :

If three people are on the bus then it is just as efficient space-wise as three cars. It seems stupid to cancel a bus with three or less people because it might inconvenience someone to the same degree as three cars. Think of the inconvenience for the people who can’t catch that service anymore.

I note despite quoting both points I made, you only responded to the first about the space vehicles take up.

What about the fuel? 11L turbocharged diesel to carry three people as you say people, the photo doesn’t really address that does it.

M0les 11:00 pm 18 Sep 12

Deref said :

Skateboards? Dogsleds? Horses?

How about light rail? That’d be a hard one because the photo would have to span many kilometres.

Hang-gliders?

OpenYourMind 10:30 pm 18 Sep 12

Holden Caulfield said :

When do the “customer satisfaction survey” results from the three types of commuters get released?

Or the numbers of productivity lost by transport method due to contracting illness due to commuting in inclement weather or sharing confined spaces with sick people?

Also, how many in the 69 bus commuters have missed a service in the last week because it arrived at the stop either before or after its advertised arrival?

We all know using cars so much has its drawbacks, but in Canberra, especially, there isn’t a reliable alternative.

I lived in London and the tube etc, while not perfect, was immeasurably suitable for getting around than anything ACTION could ever hope to offer.

Canberra doesn’t have the population density. Fix that or make the public transport system free/heavily subsidised so that is easier to forgive its many shortcomings.

Customer satisfaction survey? Just ask a few bicycle commuters. My money says that their eyes will light up and they’ll want to tell you about the wonderful ride they had to work. I know I’m not alone in saying that the days I do drive to work, I find myself looking at the bicycle riders and kicking myself for whatever reason I came up with to be stuck in a car. I know a lot of bicycle commuters and I’m hard pressed to think of one that doesn’t enjoy riding to work.

thy_dungeonman 10:22 pm 18 Sep 12

c_c said :

But the photo is a fallacy in that it ignores the large part of the day when buses run near empty, taking up as much space or more than those few people would have in their own vehicles, and certainly burning a lot more fuel than they would have.

If three people are on the bus then it is just as efficient space-wise as three cars. It seems stupid to cancel a bus with three or less people because it might inconvenience someone to the same degree as three cars. Think of the inconvenience for the people who can’t catch that service anymore.

c_c 9:57 pm 18 Sep 12

Postalgeek said :

c_c said :

I would suggest the solution in part to both traffic and public transport usage issues is to first look at breaking the traditional mould of when the day starts and finishes.

It’s moronic asking what peak time is, you should know, it’s painfully evident whether you car, bus or bike to work or school.

I do know. I wasn’t asking what peak hour is. I was asking what it is to you.

I’m trying to clarify what your point is, seeing as you said the photo was BS for assuming that “every one will be travelling to the same place, at the exact same time, and back again, to the same place, at the exact same time”.

And then you make the observation that “everybody crushes in to the city centres during a window in the morning, and then again during a window in the after noon”.

As for what time the day starts and finishes, in regards to traffic you might alleviate congestion through staggered start times, but you will still have parking problems as people’s shifts will still overlap.

I don’t go out much to the city at night and so I can’t comment on availability of buses at night. I understand what you’re saying about the apparent poor synchronisation of need and supply. Maybe you’re right and it’s something that needs to be looked at; the Nightrider program for example is restricted to warm months.

Exactly, staggered times would reduce congestion on roads, allow a smaller (and therefore less costly) bus fleet to service more people by spreading demand.

At the moment, everyone crushes in during two windows. And during those two windows, the above photo is true, you will get heaps of people on a bus taking up less space than they would in their own cars. But the photo is a fallacy in that it ignores the large part of the day when buses run near empty, taking up as much space or more than those few people would have in their own vehicles, and certainly burning a lot more fuel than they would have.

As for night time services, you wouldn’t rely on a bus reaching the outer suburbs after 9pm, and their all done by midnight.

gooterz 9:56 pm 18 Sep 12

Now do one with a train!

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