I've been reading Jan Gehl's 2010 book "Cities for People" and think that he made a few excellent points.

The book itself can be summarised in one diagram (see page 239 on the Google books preview).

But from Chaper 4.9 "Good cities for bicycling", he says:

The fact remains that a considerable number of cities worldwide have a structure, terrain and climate well suited for bicycle traffic. Over the years, many of these cities have thrown their lot in with traffic priorities that prioritized car traffic and made bicycle traffic dangerous or completely impossible. In some places extensive car traffic has kept bicycle traffic from even getting started.

In many cites, bicycle traffic continues to be not much more than political sweet talk, and bicycle infrastructure typically consists of unconnected stretches of paths here and there rather than the object of a genuine, wholehearted and useful approach.

He then goes on to state that cycling should be accessible to all, from school children to senior citizens and not just young/athletic people.

All of that sounds appropriate to Adelaide - great terrain and climate for cycling, but no commitment to building comfortable and convenient places for people to ride.

The book finishes with "Reordering priorities, please" with the following comparisons (if you want to see the pictures, I recommend borrowing or purchasing the book):


Obstacles on the sidewalks -- ...or a dignified pedestrian experience

Narrow sidewalks -- ...or a more equal distribution of space

Applying to cross the street (picture of a button) -- ...or being politely informed (countdown timer)

Blinking red light urging people to speed up while crossing -- ...or being politely informed

Long Waits (at signalised crossings) -- ...or a balance between walking and waiting (zebra crossings instead)

Guard rails alongside sidewalks -- ...or respect for pedestrian desirelines

Pedestrian bridges/underpasses -- ...or direct crossing at street level (with priority/zebra crossings)

Hopping between pedestrian islands (example of slip lane island in Sydney) -- ...or pedestrian crossings without interruptions

Interruptions for minor streets and driveways -- ...or sidewalks and bicycle paths taken across side streets and driveways without interruptions.

Confusing "slip-lanes" (example from Sydney) -- ...or simple intersections (no slip lanes)

Street crossing that resemble obstacle courses -- ...or simple crossings

Pedestrians conducted away from street corners -- ...or respect for pedestrian desire lines


Much of the infrastructure built in the last few years have many of the problems listed above, it seems we have a long way to go.

Some further notes on Copenhagen:

(on greenways) However, the main principle of bicycle policy is for bicycles to have room on ordinary streets, where just like the others in traffic, their owners have errands in shops, residences and offices. The principle is for bicycle traffic to be safe from door-to door throughout the city.

Room for this comprehensive bicycle network has been largely gained by down-sizing car traffic. Parking space and driving lanes have been gradually reduced, as traffic patterns have moved from car to bicycle traffic, and therefore bicycles needed more room. Most of the city's major four lane streets have been converted to two-lane streets with two bicycle paths, two sidewalks and a broad median strip intended to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the street. Roadside trees have been planted and it is two-way as before.

I'd say that "we don't have the room for segregated cycle tracks" is probably the biggest myth.

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Agree. A great book and a must read for anyone involved in roads and urban planning. A copy takes pride of place on my bookshelf. :)

I think it is always a challenge to change the status quo

living in a democracy if most people use cars will the car user will be looked after.

how to get bike riding to be seen as something everybody does rather than fit athletic adults who wear Lycra I dont know.

Not that there is anything wrong with that. (being fit athletic and wearing Lycra)

if most people use cars

In Australia for 10+ years, bicycles have out-sold cars. Yet on the roads, more people drive than cycle. Time to make bicycle transport safer and friendlier so that people use their bicycles.

Do you know what % of those bikes were for adults? Just wondering if the purchase of kids bikes skews the stats…

Yep it is a great book. I bought it and had it signed when Jan visited 2 years ago for the Festival of Ideas.

If you haven't already read them it is worth having a look at his report from 2002 as well as 2011 (not much was done in the meantime unfortunately)

For similar type of books go to Amazon and search for Jeff Speck or Richard Florida.


As for the myth about room for segregated cycle tracks. It is hard to imagine a city/metropolitan areas that has more space for it than Adelaide.


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