College St Cycleway – RIP

July 26, 2015 at 10:50 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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college stI don’t normally have reason to ride through the eastern part of the CBD, but the other day I did need to, to get out to an exhibition in Moore Park. I sort of followed my nose, and by happy chance found myself on the College Street Cycleway.
I bowled along merrily, enjoying the respite from the city traffic. My otherwise happy mood was somewhat darkened by my reflections on the future for that particular cycleway.

Successful though it is, carrying thousands of cyclists a day (far more people than are carried by the adjacent traffic lane) today is the day it starts to be ripped up, sacrificed to the motordom-worshiping ideology of the NSW state government.

Even before the current government took power, the now roads minister, Duncan Gay, was pretty forthright on his views on bicycles. Basically, he sees them as toys, a nuisance, something that gets in the way of ‘proper’ traffic. He’s also fairly soft on public transport. No, the proper role for his department, and vision for the metropolis of Sydney, is to squeeze as many private cars into it as possible, to the detriment of everyone else who is merely ‘getting in the way’. The solutions he has come up with for this are various, but include narrowing already crowded footpaths, banning car share spaces, building eye-wateringly expensive motorways that terminate at some of Sydney’s most choked streets, forcing cyclists to register and, of course, ripping out cycleways.

Oblivious to the international consensus on urban planning that transcends political boundaries and sees cities such as London, New York, Seoul, Paris and Montreal embrace enhanced access for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport, Duncan Gay bowls on relentlessly, throwing out one-lines about ‘latte-sipping chattering classes‘ whenever he is challenged.

It’s enough to make you weep. And get angry. Still, for today at least, you can feel better by going for a nice calming ride along College Street, admiring the views of the park and the cathedral. Enjoy it while you can.

 

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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!!

Paying a price for a mass cycling culture

June 13, 2011 at 21:00 | Posted in bicycles | 2 Comments
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There is a great article here from by Dave Horton, a sociologist (and committed cyclist) who has been studying the barriers to cycling adoption in the UK.

One of the most interesting points in it for me was that Horton used to be a staunch believer that cyclists should be on the roads, but he changed that view whilst undertaking the research, although he acknowledges that this means giving up some of the things he enjoys about riding a bicycle:

‘We need to move cycling out from its still marginal status as an urban mode of mobility. We need to make cycling ‘normal’, or ‘mainstream’, or ‘irresistible’.

In order to to this we need to build a cycling system to replace the car system which is today dominant. Those of us who currently love cycling must recognise that cycling will change as a result. It’s therefore probably unrealistic to expect us all to embrace the necessary changes enthusiastically.

For example, I love having those high quality cycle routes which currently exist (and we have some good ones in and around my hometown of Lancaster) more-or-less to myself, and I love, too, mixing it with fast-moving motorised traffic when that’s the best means of getting where I want to go. But under a culture of mass cycling, in which almost everyone will feel able to get where they want or need to go by bike, I’ll probably lose both of these experiences’

I think this points to some of the problems with much (although not all) of the bicycle advocacy in Australia. The primary goal of many advocates is to get more people cycling like they do it, rather than recognising that there are actually very few people like them (me!), and that creating a mass cycling culture requires cycling to change.

Some time ago I remember reading a blog by an English guy who had moved to Holland; I think he may have been a bicycle messenger. He found Holland a frustrating place to cycle; too many bikes travelling too slowly on busy cycleways.

When I ride the Radish to work, loaded up with stuff, I love Clover’s cycleways. They are perfect for that slightly ponderous ride, usually with me dressed in jeans. But when I ride the fixie, I often eschew the cycleways, taking a longer way around Hickson Road in order to enjoy getting the legs flying, keeping up with the traffic and working up a sweat.

I guess it’s an interesting question. How would you feel if you had to ride predominantly on cycle-specific infrastructure and were held up by lots of slow cyclists? Is that a price you would be prepared to pay to get 25% of people onto bikes?

 

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