I couldn’t do that because…

April 4, 2011 at 19:51 | Posted in bicycles | 2 Comments
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The road pictured is Balmain Road, Sydney. It is one of the routes into Rozelle / Balmain, a popular suburb of Sydney replete with nice cafes, funky shops and interesting markets. It seems to be especially popular on Saturday mornings; indeed so popular that the queue of traffic on Balmain Road was around 2km long. I was walking along the road at the time pushing Baby Chillikebab in her pram, and the traffic was travelling at about the same speed as we were – say 4km/h or so. This means the people in the cars were prepared to wait around half an hour just to get into Rozelle. Once there, they then would the need to find somewhere to park – easily another fifteen minutes. That’s forty-five minutes in total – let’s hope that latte or antique vase is really worth it.

It’s quite extraordinary really; in that 45 minutes those people could have virtually cycled from Bondi, as this useful map shows. I’m fairly confident that the vast majority of those people queuing up on Balmain Road live less than a 45 minute cycle away from Balmain. However, I’m also fairly confident that, if asked, they all would have had a really good reason why they could not have ridden that day. “too hilly’, ‘too dangerous’, ‘too slow’, ‘too hot, ‘too cold’ etc etc.

I observed as we walked that the cars were about half and half split between people on their own and couples, with rather few families. Another interesting thought is that if each car is about 4m long, and there is a 3m gap between cars, then there were about 285 cars on that 2km stretch of road. Assuming one and a half people per car on average, that’s about 430 people.  A Sydney Transport Authority bus can hold between 44 and 79 people depending on the type, so  we could accommodate all those people in around nine buses. A bus is about 13 metres long, so nine buses only need about 150m of road – around 8% of the road space taken up by the 285 cars.

That’s all a bit by the by; people evidently don’t want to cycle, or go on the bus – otherwise they would be doing it. It’s a free country after all, and people can choose how they want to get about. I suppose the bit I am puzzled by is why they want to sit in their cars for that long. I mean, I know Balmain is nice, but it’s not that nice, surely? Or maybe these people find the interior of their car much more interesting that I find the interior of mine? All very mysterious.



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  1. “That’s all a bit by the by; people evidently don’t want to cycle, or go on the bus – otherwise they would be doing it. It’s a free country after all, and people can choose how they want to get about.”

    I wouldn’t have a problem with this except that here, those individual decisions limit my choice to cycle or take quick public transport. Until there are viable alternatives (better PT, more safe bike lanes), then often its not a real choice for many people.

  2. I have been campaigning for bike lanes along Balmain Rd or a bike path next to Balmain Rd, inside the Callan Park brick frontage wall. Parking along the frontage side could be removed as there is no residential need, allowing space for bike lanes. Leichhardt Council did not approve, fearing resident backlash. They have approved a sign posted route inside the Park, from Wharf Rd to Cecily St, on existing internal roads such as Garden Way and the main access road to the Cecily St gate. No money as yet, and needs approval from Dept of Health, who still control Callan Park despite it supposedly being handed over to the Council about 2 years ago. More on our website under Campaigns, Balmain Rd or Callan Park.

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