Briefly the article considers the current Oz situation for accommodating cyclists - ie road sharing.
It says, if road sharing is what it's going to have to be - how can we make it safe?
Makes some interesting points about the conditions in which this is safe - e.g 30 km/h limit - and how feasible that might be in Australia.
Also comments on situation in NL and DK, re cycle usage. Helmet wearing and driver attitudes.
Yes, worth a quick look.
Worth a read.
This is the part I find most interesting:
"Freedom from mandatory helmets isn’t why the residents of Amsterdam and Copenhagen cycle in such large numbers. It’s the other way around – they don’t wear helmets because it’s safe not to. And cycling’s safe because drivers in those cities are sympathetic to cyclists; because the law supports cyclists; and because there’re separated bike paths on many major roads."
"Freedom from mandatory helmets isn’t why the residents of Amsterdam and Copenhagen cycle in such large numbers. It’s the other way around – they don’t wear helmets because it’s safe not to."
That statement has bothered me all day, it is very convoluted and draws a very strange comparison which he then uses to make a conclusion which doesn't seem very valid. Why is it the other way round? What is the other way around? What is he trying to say?
Is it the other way around because if MHLs were introduced in a safe cycling environment like Amsterdam or Copenhagen it wouldn't affect the participation rate? People would still cycle everywhere in spite of MHLs?
Is it the other way around because if it was unsafe to cycle in Amsterdam or Copenhagen and everyone was forced to wear helmets it wouldn't affect the participation rate?
I just don't get it at all. Surely the only thing you can draw from the experience in Amsterdam and Copenhagen is that if you have a safe cycling environment and there are no laws forcing people to wear helmets then lots of people will ride bicycles. Which does indeed appear to be the case.
Maybe he is drawing a long bow trying to defend his earlier "MHLs don't impact participation rates articles" from those meddlesome European experts who are suggesting that MHLs actually are impacting participation rates here.
Australians are used to long distances. Even in our urban planning there are fairly large distances for most people to get to shops and schools etc. These are not large distances by bike if you ride a bike regularly. But for most (I assume) of the population, 10k would be considered a long distance by bike.
To travel these distances we are used to fairly high road speeds by car.
Reducing these speeds by 40% in urban areas is going to take some getting used to by most of the driving population. Sharing road space will be another challenge. I think it will take incremental change to introduce these concepts. It could well be aided by increases in the cost of petrol, pushes to reduce obesity and smoking etc. And I think governments should be looking into incentive schemes that reward bike use.
And cycling will reach a point of critical mass which will force governments into action. Because lets face it, no government will introduce unpopular legislation if it can avoid it.
It's interesting - these discussions really weren't around only a few years ago (at least not that I remember). The groundswell is growing. It's exciting.
An interesting article. I have a couple of comments.
Slowing cars to 30 or 40 km/h is a nice idea but will not work everywhere. It is not feasible to have speed limits that low on roads like South Road and Main North Road. On those roads, trucks and cars travel quickly and bicycles need to be separated from them. On quieter residential streets, a 30 km/h speed limit is not just appropriate but required. Those streets should not be used as thoroughfares for cars. Because of the lower speed and lower traffic, it is appropriate for cyclists to share the space with motorists. That is how the Dutch system works.
The article makes the point about funding being harder to come by. That is a matter of political will and choice. In any event, roads are upgraded all of the time. These sorts of measures should be added as a matter of course when roads are upgraded. The point about "taking away space from motorists" is misguided. First, it assumes it is "theirs" in the first place. Second, it implicitly assumes that a decent separated bike lane is a cost to motorists. It isn't. An uptake in an alternative form of transport to cars necessarily descreases car congestion. A look around the world shows that to be the case.
The idea of using quiet residential streets to establish a cycling network is only part of the answer. That network must include main roads too. It is on those roads that the separation is required. And possible. It is absurd to suggest that Adelaide's roads do not have the space, particularly in the CBD.
The speed and level of separation depends on the purpose of the road. It is all explained here really well.
The article also pointed the finger squarely at politicians and civil engineers. Cycling evangelism and persistent demands (aimed at the pollies) for better cycling infrastructure and outcomes. The way is forward!
And frankly is we wanna razz up other states the current NSW and Vic leaders are pretty much anti-cycling. And Melbourne touts tself as a leading cycling capitol. Well their premier is scuttling that for sure and the NSW one is painted with the same brush or so it seems. Not sure how ours shapes up though...
hozozco and Edward, thanks for the interesting links.
Tim, I believe the Australian surveys that the main reason given for not cycling is "unsafe". I cycled in my youth in the country. When I came to the city, I gave up cycling because of the vehicles. Until I went back to studies and needed a drastic measure to balance my budget. I bought and used a helmet before it was mandatory. If Australia had good safe cycling facilities, I would never have given up cycling for that period. Or used packed peak-hour public transport, until my commute distance increased and I bought a car.