Tag Archives: bike lanes

Yarra Council Face Off on Copenhagen Lane

Have your final say about the Copenhagen-style bike lane on Wellington Street!

Tuesday 19 February, 6.30pm

Richmond Town Hall, 333 Bridge Rd, Richmond

Wellington St is a popular and well connected route in the inner network. With over 400 riders in the 7-9am peak it provides a major transport function and serves as a viable connection from North Fitzroy through to East Melbourne

YCAN has strongly supported a Copenhagen lane on Wellington St as a part of the Bicycle strategy Yarra Council has adopted. We see it as the missing link in getting more people to ride their bikes.

After a long time it is finally coming to a head and Yarra Council will be giving it the thumbs up or down.

Shockingly some people don’t support a Copenhagen lane on Wellington Street. We are sure that they just don’t understand that the entire city is doomed to grind to a standstill if we fail to make it safe for people to get out of their car and on the their bike. Frequently it is faster to ride across the city of Yarra than to drive, but until people feel it is safe, the large shift out of cars and onto bikes that is council’s policy won’t happen.

So come along, bring some friends and support a sustainable, healthier and more liveable city.

 

Painting is not building

Photo by Richard Drdul

To download the petition calling for more Copenhagen lanes in the City of Yarra click here.

Yarra Council has some interesting ideas. One of which is that painting a road equals building a bike lane. Like some magic talisman, the painted lines will protect you.

There seems to be a fundamental disconnect between what an average person on a bike would call a bike lane and what the Yarra Council thinks a bike lane is.

Call me crazy but when I read that Council wants, “Yarra to be the best cycling city in Australia with the highest mode share for cycling to work, schools, shops of any city in Australia”, and “to have an effective interconnected, continuous and well maintained bicycle network that inexperienced and experienced riders feel safe and comfortable using”, I don’t think of some paint and rubber on the road, it just doesn’t achieve that for me.

Now those objectives are entirely commendable and I for one would love to see Yarra Council achieve them. I have an image of people happily jumping on their bikes to buy some milk or take the kids to soccer training as just a normal part of practically everyone’s life.

Which brings me to Yarra’s website which states:

“In mid 2011, Council constructed a new bicycle route that connects Heidelberg Road in Clifton Hill with Gipps Street in Abbotsford.

“The route provides a separated road space for cyclists that connects cyclists to other key bicycle routes and provides better access to other parts of Yarra and the CBD.

“The project cost $280,000.

“The majority of work involved painting line markings to create better definition along the route. Traffic treatments were also installed at several locations to provide greater separation between cyclists and vehicles.”

Frankly the $280,000 does not equal “a separated road space for cyclists” it has put some paint and rubber on the road. It is spin doctoring to call that “separated”. It is time to call it what it is, dangerous window dressing that continues the second class status of cyclists and puts them in harm’s way, while pretending to provide them with a bike lane.

If like me you have used that route you will know that you take a punt with your life every time you turn from Bath Street into Johnston St to get onto Gipps St and I pray that someone doesn’t have to get killed there before a real solution for cyclists crossing  Johnston Street is put in place.

There is a profound double standard that applies to cyclists. Cyclists incidence of injury and death is increasing and it is justified as a consequence of increasing numbers of cyclists in the community. But that would be totally unacceptable for motorists. The death toll must go down every year for motorists, even though there are more on the roads and rightly so. We should have safe roads for all the people who use them. But cyclists are getting a bum deal and it is time to face that fact. The TAC website shows that for the year to date there is a 67% increase.

Even an innocent momentary lapse of concentration on a motorist’s part and splat, cyclist’s Christmas cancelled.

Without projects that really create bike lanes to world’s best practice, Yarra cannot become “the best cycling city in Australia” or “have an effective interconnected, continuous and well maintained bicycle network that inexperienced and experienced riders feel safe and comfortable using

Which is why, if Yarra is to become “the best cycling city in Australia” it will have to become the highest funding per capita Council in Australia and build physically separated bicycle lanes that are safe to travel in.

Thankfully Yarra has some great natural advantages in that contest. We have a geographical small council, we have many broad streets and we have a lot of cyclists already.

So let’s grab the mantle off Sydney and just do it, build (not paint) a great network of real bike lanes, ones that physically separate cyclists and motorists, like the Copenhagen style does, and build new bike paths that cyclists of all ages and ability feel safe using.

When Yarra starts doing that, rather than acting like a graffiti artist on our road running wild with paint, then we will increasingly feel like the roads are safe for cyclists and many more will jump on a bike. Yarra cannot fix the problem of the entire city, but Yarra can certainly lead the way for the entire metropolitan area.

In the meantime cyclists will continue to protect parked cars from damage with their lives rather than parked cars protecting cyclists’ lives. How many people have to be injured or killed on Yarra’s roads before a cyclists’ life is more valuable than a parked car?

So I for one am just going to have to disagree with Yarra Council and continue to say that there are no new bike lanes in Yarra and it doesn’t look like there will be any in the near future. Not while they are still thinking a bit of paint creates an on-road bike lane. That’s just not good enough, not when people’s lives are at stake.

People who have been road riding for some time tend to develop an acceptance of the risks, they develop strategies to cope with it. I for one, light up my bike like a Christmas tree at nights on the road. However, we tend to forget that it is scary and off-putting for most people to use your bike on the roads with cars zipping past you just centimetres away.

Victoria Police’s Operation Halo demonstrates that the magic paint just doesn’t work to keep cyclists and motorists separated.

More than 130 motorcyclists have been snared for riding in the bike lane, as have 42 car and truck drivers” during Operation Halo.

The Age recently had an article that highlighted just how scary it can be out there on the roads.

Helmet cameras tested on Melbourne roads two years ago show how prevalent scares are for cyclists. Marilyn Johnson, from the Monash University Accident Research Centre, found in footage compiled by 13 riders over 127 hours there were two crashes, six near-crashes and 46 instances where riders had to take evasive action. Drivers were at fault 87 per cent of the time.

So come on Yarra get your act together put away the paint brush and build real bike lanes.

To download the petition calling for more Copenhagen lanes in the City of Yarra click here.

Photo by i b i k e l o n d o n