Wednesday, 10 November 2010

New VIC state bike planning guidelines

Apparently things are moving along.

New state guidelines have been issued by the Dept. of Transport in Oct 2010.

The document is aimed at the major culprits - road builders and managers - and argues for full consideration of bicycle facilities in future road planning and building. Even along major roads, like in Copenhagen.

I don't see anything here about fixing up the crap cycle lanes that are incomplete or dangerous, however. And builders can get out of building new facilities by claiming they are unecessary or unsuitable for the location. So the policy is welcome but needs to be tested.

contact: Department of Transport, Sustainable and Active Transport Policy, walkingandcycling "at"

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Research corner

  • Wearing A Helmet Puts Cyclists At Risk, Suggests Research   ScienceDaily (Sep. 13, 2006). Dr Ian Walker's research in Bath, UK. Wear a helmet and drivers pass you closer. Are you listening, Bicycle Victoria? 

    • See also research on helmets collected here - an interesting range of studies

  • ABC radio broadcast on helmet laws on 21 Sept '10
  • A Virtuous Cycle: Safety In Numbers For Bicycle Riders ScienceDaily (Sep. 7, 2008) Dr Chris Rissel, Sydney Uni says "We should create a cycling friendly environment and accentuate cycling's positives rather than stress negatives with 'safety campaigns' that focus on cyclists without addressing drivers and road conditions. Reminding people of injury rates and risks, to wear helmets and reflective visible clothes has the unintended effect of reinforcing fears of cycling which discourages people from cycling." Motorists seem to change their behaviour and drive more safely when they see more cyclists and pedestrians around. 
  • Major review article here Pucher J, J Dill and S Handy.2010. Infrastructure, Programs and Policies to Increase Bicycling: An International Review," Preventive Medicine, Vol. 50, No. S1, January 2010, pp S106-S125 Click here for PDF
  • Cycle Resource Centre from the Australian National Cycling Strategy 2005-10, Australia


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Traffic modelling

Actually, traffic modelling is pretty boring for cyclists, since we generally breeze past traffic jams or avoid them. This posting from Youtube and showing (the Dutch Center of expertise on bicycle policy) models of the effects of 10% increases, and 10% decreases, in bike traffic in a city.
On the left, a 10% decline in cycling rates over the next 10 years vis-à-vis, on the right, a 10% increase in cycling.
Check it

Monday, 21 June 2010

Queen's Parade, Clifton Hill

Location: Queen's Parade Clifton Hill, between Delbridge and Grant Streets. 
Council: City of Yarra, although this may also involve VicRoads or Dept.Transport. Unsure.
Responsibility: There are a large number of possibilities. Try starting with MD
The Problem: There you are, slogging north-east uphill to escape the city fumes, on a nice wide Queen's Parade cycle lane, up to the the Clifton Hill shops. OK half of the lane becomes unrideable bluestone. Suddenly, the cycle lane disappears. No signage, no explanation. Traffic roars behind you, now with impunity. You can carry straight on, ignoring the bluestong gutter that tales up most of the lane and launching onto the unmarked tarmac ahead - unmarked except for the remnants of the old dashed cycle lane that was once there,  that is. Most cyclists do this.
The others veer left onto the safer access lane, pictured. There, you trundle on, veer right again, until the lane starts up again, 60m further on.You need to do that to get to the traffic lights.
This an extraordinarily crap solution to road sharing.
Solution: All that bluestone gutting and grass could house a lane you could actually ride on. But that would cost more money. So let's just leave it to cyclist's intuition, shall we? How about some signage at least?
View Larger Map

Swanston Street/Faraday Street, Carlton

Location: Corner of Faraday St and Swanston St, Carlton.
Council: Melbourne City Council
Description: Approaching the busy Swanston Street near the University of Melbourne from the east, travelling down Faraday Street, you encounter this strange bit of green cycle lane just a few metres long. Nobody I know has any idea what you are supposed to do when you reach the end of it, and it seems to serve no purpose (I noticed the photo shows a sign, in the second photo-it has taken me 3 yrs to notice that!). There is a cycle lane on the road, which was painted in a bit later. Had you wanted to turn left, there is a clear marking on the road to do just that. Should you want to progress across Swanston Street to the University, on what is rather unfortunately called "Monash Road", there is a nice wide track to do that, after a large gap and a crossing. You might as well stay on the road to do that, too. So maybe there is a hyperdimensional portal at the end of the green lane. That would explain why you never see anybody using this crap cycle lane.They just disappear.
Solution: Why not just leave it there as a monument to Melburnian infrastructural puzzlement?

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Gardiners Creek Trail between Glenferrie Rd and the Yarra Trail

(incomplete - not ridden it)
Location: Gardiner's Creek Trail, Boroondara and Stonnington Council
Responsibility: VIC Roads and local councils
Problem: See here for the problem. In addition, this site has substantial information and sugegstions for further improvements along the longer trail length. The conclusion is that Boroondara council has done a far better job of making a sensible and useable trail than Stonnington.
Solution: see above site. "If only we could Boroondara-ise the whole trail…"

Gipps Street, Abbotsford

Location: Gipps Street, Abbotsford

Responsibility: Yarra City Council

The Problem: Volumes have been written about the "Gipps Street Steps" on the Capital City Trail along the Yarra. Following the River path southward, it ends in steps before crossing the river east-west  at Gipps Street.  They are three flights of steps up that mar a pleasant commuter and leisure route (Bicycle Victoria image). They leave you winded and annoyed (on a bike or with a pram) or stranded (if you can't make it up or down).
The Solution: In 2009 it was reported that there is finally some action on a new bridge design, pushed by Bicycle Victoria. Then on 5 May 2010, BV reported that the state budget had allowed $2.5m for a complete redesign and solution, funded through the Parks Asset and Replacement Program (Parks Victoria).
The details are here. Nice one. 
For the next few months, or maybe over a year, keep slogging...

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Steep path at Hall Reserve, Capital City Trail

Location: Merri Creek Trail/Capital City Trail, under Heidelberg Rd, Clifton Hill, Melbourne
Local Council: Yarra Council; Melbourne Water must be consulted about any works under the bridge.
Responsibility: Yarra Council. Try Mark Kulyk was the contact person for the Bike Strategy of the council, 2010, but has moved on. You might try MD who works on bike paths
Description: Merri Creek has a cycle path, installed over the last two decades. This section forms part of the Capital City Trail, which takes you to the CBD. Heading city-bound, you go under the Heidelberg Road bridge, round a blind corner, and are faced with a crap cycle lane of huge proportions - a steep incline often covered with debris, up to Hall Reserve, a nice bit of parkland between houses and Creek.
Only the fit and those with gears can make it up. For everybody else it is get off and walk. For those with toddlers or prams  it is a nightmare. Wheelchair, no chance. Coming down, you need very good brakes.
If this has not been enough, in early 2010 Yarra Council  made things considerably worse by re-routing the paths at the top of the hill in Halls Reserve, adding another half a meter to the distance you have to climb at the top of the hill (see last photo below). We understand what they were doing but this was tackling the wrong issue first. They were carrying out path realignments suggested in the the Merri Creek Trail Review of 2007 but have made things worse for cyclists going up and down the hill. That earlier document, by the way, makes no suggestions about fixing the steep slope, other than to suggest cyclists dismount going down, with signs to that effect (we all ignore them). It also recommended a barrier at the top to slow downward cyclists. That would be really great if you were struggling uphill, wouldn't it? (there used to be one-it was removed).
With Spensley Street Primary School kids and parents using this path as the major route from the northern part of their school catchment, the hill is an accident waiting to happen, as well as just intensely annoying. Every morning you will meet 6 year old kids pushing their bikes up, angry parents, and a range of other faster commuters. Near misses every week.
Solution: Simply telling people to dismount is sloppy bike planning. Regrade the path. No barriers. A switchback is one solution. Simply flattening the slope a bit, at the top, would do. Is this prioritised in the Yarra Bicycle Strategy 2010-2015? No. I am not convinced the author of that document ever rode this path, which is an essential city trail - hence its name.  There are vague statements in the Strategy about the difficulties of fixing paths that are not up to code, but no plans to actually spend any money.  
View Larger Map
Update, 1 June 2010. It gets worse. See photo. Council workmen came today to stop peds and cyclists taking a shortcut across the grass at the top of the slope, to reduce the uphill distance they travel. Incomprehensible wooden barriers have been installed (now tan barked as well). This builds on their spectacular effort to protect grass from being walked on, with a fence, April 2010. None of this is of any benefit to park users, whether pedestrians, dogs, cyclists, or anybody else. The workmen would not talk to me.  Meanwhile the slope isn't getting any less steep. The photo shows it's base and the new, higher top. This would definitely make it into my top 50 Crap Cycles Lanes of Melbourne.  Publishers for a book out there?