Perfect Pass

March 2, 2018 at 12:09 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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Anyone who rides a bike on the roads occasionally experiences car drivers passing rather too close. This is, of course, illegal, but given the cops are utterly uninterested in ever doing anything about it, I don’t see that it’s going to change soon. My new commute has a few spots where this is a particular problem. I’ve been planning to write a blog about it for a while replete with hair-raising video of people skimming past whilst texting on their phones.

However, I’m also nervous such a post might be Whispering. So instead I’m going to talk about a good experience. One of the roads I ride on is Australia Avenue, going through Olympic Park. This has a ‘bike lane’ painted down the side, but as is often the case with paint (as opposed to proper infrastructure) it sort of makes things worse not better. Why? Well drivers somehow see that paint line as a magical defence, and don’t consider how close they are to you – the logic is that I have a bike lane, they are in the car lane, and everything is OK. Well, when the bike lane is only about one metre wide in total, and you are driving a large truck where the back wheels are grazing that white line, it’s not OK. It’s terrifying.

Against that background, take a bow the driver of this Toll truck. Not only did he go very wide when overtaking me, he was also aware of the potential conflict when we both pulled up at the traffic light, and waved me past to ensure I was safe and that I knew he had seen me. Well done. I took the time to send in a compliment to Toll via their website, which I hope reaches the driver in question.

And, as is often the case when this happens, I find myself thinking, ‘I bet he rides a bike’…

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Another cycling pot-pourri

June 19, 2015 at 12:00 | Posted in bicycles | 2 Comments
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Some more bits and bobs from my travels, none of which are interesting to justify an entire article..

Public Bike Share in Sydney

bikehiresydneyWho knew there was a bike share scheme running in Sydney? I came across this outside the Ibis hotel in Darling Harbour. Three dusty bikes, looking little used. Apparently helmets are available for free from the hotel reception. So that’s all right then.

At $11 for an hour, it seems a little steep, and there’s only two stations in Sydney. But I suppose if you wanted to spend $11 to get from the Ibis to the Holiday Inn it could be handy…

The CoS, of course, would like to implement a proper municipal system, but won’t do so unless there is a relaxation in helmet laws, in order to avoid the white elephants installed in Brisbane and Melbourne.

Chatswood Bike Lanes

bikelanechatswood bikelanesqueezeThere’s a bike lane near where I work – or at least the sign for one. although whether this counts as a real one is not 100% clear, as according to the road rules it has to have a ‘start’ sign as well. This is the type of ‘door zone’ lane that has been associated with at least two fatalities recently, and cyclists generally would be well advised to avoid them – either take the lane or ride on that nice empty footpath.
However, Chatswood council do like to dial things up a bit, by not only installing such lethal infrastructure, but by then narrowing it at an artificial pinch point. One imagines that this pinch point was initially there to slow motor traffic, but clearly to thus inconvenience drivers is unacceptable. So instead drivers are invited to power through with a full width lane, whilst cyclists get even more squeezed against the parked cars. Removing two car parking spaces to give cyclists space was also clearly not on the agenda…

Bike on Bike action

bikeonbikeblog I once again recently ended up with a bike stuck at work, so needed to bring two home at once. It’s something I’ve done many times, but it does make me somehow happy to ride along with a bike on a bike.

 

 

Adding Utility

bikebasket Chillikebab jnr wanted to up the practicality of her bike, so used some of her birthday money to buy a basket. Top choice, I say, and perfect for collecting interesting leaves, twigs and other artifacts from the park. Clearly a budding utility cyclist.

 

The joy of Vic Road SUP

August 5, 2013 at 19:16 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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I was prompted to put this piece together when a journalist acquaintance of mine who happens to write a cycling blog in the Sydney Morning Herald asked for examples of terrible cycling infrastructure to illustrate an article he was working on.

Well, the prize for worst infrastructure on my regular routes has to be the Victoria Road SUP (Shared User Path). A few years ago, this arterial road was upgraded at huge expense; an extra traffic lane was added, bus lanes marked, a new bridge built and the whole road upgraded and re-sheeted in smooth asphalt.  It cost many hundreds of millions of dollars.

So what provision was made for bicycles was made as part of this upgrade? Well, apparently the budget ran to a large tin of paint, and a few man-hours putting lines on the footpath. Lets take a look at some of the wonders of this major arterial cycling route.

poles_white_bay

Here’s the first thing you come to at the White Bay end. (Well, actually it’s not the first, but there are just too many things to include them all.) When they painted the white lines on there, do you think anyone thought to ask, ‘How’s this going to work with a bloody great pole in each lane’? The answer, obviously, was to put a reflective stripe around each pole, to warn cyclists who may have thought that the white lines were in any way a guide as to where to ride.

hoops

Having dodged all the poles at eye-level, clearly the RMS think another tack is needed to trap unwary cyclists – like these knee-high hoops. Sometimes a sticker appears on those hoops, documenting when they were first reported as a hazard, and how many times they have been reported since. I applaud the mystery documenter in his or her disheartening work, although can’t help hoping they get a bit more militant and simply take an angle grinder to them.

more_poles_poor_surface

There are many other examples of poles in the middle of the ‘lanes’, such as this one a bit further up. Note also the high-quality of the surface – full or ruts, bumps and pot-holes.

narrow_poles_bike

If you thought you could cycle through those posts, by the way, be aware that it leaves about 2cm knuckle clearance on each side. Unless you have wider bars, in which case the bike will come to a sudden halt.

high_curb_bike_markings

This is not all that clear to see, as the sun is in the lens, but marked on this pedestrian crossing is a line and some symbols to demarcate the right of the crossing for pedestrians, and the left for cyclists. That left hand side neatly directs riders to a very high curb with no ramp – which were you to unsuspectingly hit would mean you would pitch over the handlebars and straight into the pole that is directly in front of you. No wonder we need mandatory bike helmets in Australia.

car_servo_poles

Not content with the number of obstacles for cyclists, the RMS recently put in some more poles, including the two holding up this sign. This means that at the very moment you’d like to be on the far left of the path, in order to get the best sight-line into the servo to check for exiting vehicles, you have to go to the right. This means you can’t see cars exiting, and the drivers of those cars can’t see you. The van pulling out in this picture is about where cars pull out to before they stop to look. That’s about where the poles force you to ride.

bus_stop_people

There’s lots of bus-stops along this route, and they all are a disaster. In some cases the path is routed behind them, which narrows the path down so much it’s hard to walk past someone coming the other way, let alone ride past another cyclist. But this design is even worse; it pretty much guarantees cyclist / pedestrian conflict. I am now quite adept at looking for feet in the gap at the bottom of the advertising hoarding to see if there is anyone in the shelter who is liable to step out as I ride past. The RMS are apparently aware this design is sub-optimal, so have helpfully fixed it by putting a ‘slow’ sign ahead of the problem.

scrubbing_line_solve_problem

Apparently in a few places the RMS did realise they got it wrong – in this instance a path that directs cyclists straight into a pole. So they have cunningly scrubbed  out the last few metres of the white line. Problem solved!

traffic_lanes

Here’s the view back up the hill. Yes, you can indeed see four or five smooth traffic lanes. The SUP on the left is virtually invisible, hidden behind a sea of poles and signs. No wonder so many cyclists just (legally) take the bus lane in the mornings. (Its not a 24 hour lane, so in the evening you are mixing it up with more traffic, which is rather less comfortable).

new_bridge

Once you have negotiated all that, in fairness it has to be said the path over the new bridge is really quite good – smooth and wide. But how hard would it have been to have made the whole stretch this good? Well, the answer is ‘very easy’ – simply remove one of the many traffic lanes. At peak time, they crawl along at about 10kph anyway, so a bike lane would be a much faster and more efficient way of moving people along this route.

Bike cops, bridges, taxis and bike lanes…

March 22, 2013 at 08:34 | Posted in bicycles | 1 Comment
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bikecopsI’ve had a bit of a bad run of it lately. The bike cops are doing another helmet  blitz on Pyrmont Bridge, and I’ve been stopped three times in the past couple of weeks. Had a lovely chat with them, but each chat costs me $66 – this the penalty in New South Wales for the heinous crime of riding a bike slowly in an area with no motorised traffic whilst wearing an ordinary hat.

Whilst I have no argument with the individual cops (they are doing what their command have told them to do, and it’s obvious they think it’s a waste of time), one of the things that does bug me is that there are so many better things they could be doing. Like looking out for the kind of driver behaviour that actually puts cyclists at risk. Bike cops would be perfect for this – very easy to keep up with cars in peak time traffic, and then pull them over when appropriate. But no, their commanders seem to think that bike cops are only useful for policing people on bikes.

taxi in bike laneI was reflecting on this on the way to work when I came across a taxi driver merrily driving up the King St bike lane. He’d dropped someone off, but why he felt he need to drive in the bike lane to do so I have no idea. It’s illegal, inconvenienced a whole bunch of cyclists and is potentially dangerous. I took several pictures, and was thinking ‘where are those bike cops when you actually need them!’.

Later that day I was riding home and a pedestrian on Pyrmont Bridge kindly warned me that the bike cops were on the bridge again. Thanking him, I hopped off and walked, and sure enough there they were. They hadn’t seen me riding, so no ticket, but I did go up and have a chat. During the conversation I said,

‘I was hoping I was going to see you guys today, as I have a crime to report!’

Their eyes rolled a little (this must be an occupational hazard for policemen), and asked me to explain.

I pulled out my phone, and showed them the pictures of the taxi I had taken that morning. To their credit they were very interested, asked me to email them the pictures, if I had a description of the driver and so on, and if I would be happy to be a witness if it went to court. I agreed, and thanked them for their time. They then rode away. Possibly because they had other matters to attend to or perhaps – I like to think – so that I could get back on my bike to continue my ride without the embarrassment for all concerned of either watching me hobble up the street in my bike shoes or having to come after me to give me another ticket.

And I’ll wait to see if I hear back from them about the taxi driver. I hope they throw the book at him!!

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