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.

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Error of judgement

August 31, 2010 at 22:38 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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Sometimes, I make mistakes whilst cycling. Not often (or at least I like to think so), but this morning was one of those days when I did. As a result I ended up sprawled on the road in front of a whole bunch of people, which was all rather embarrassing.
I do reflect on the things I do that were perhaps a bit ill advised in order to learn from them. And I thought by posting this you can either ‘tut tut’ at me, laugh at me or learn with me, as you see fit.
It happened on the way to work, on Kent Street, on the section approaching the Harbour Bridge just after the road goes under the expressway. The traffic was very snarled up and at a standstill, and I was reflecting on how all these inconsiderate car users were holding me up by taking up all the road. As usual, I was making my way between the parked cars on the left and the queue of traffic. As I approached point 1 (see diagram), I was unable to proceed due to a badly parked car, and the proximity of the queuing car to the parking lane.
The traffic wasn’t moving, and another cyclist was also waiting at this point for the traffic to start flowing again. Being a smarty-pants, I decided I would look for a route around the congestion, and rode out to position 2 to assess the way around. it was a bit tight, but I judged I could get through, so proceeded between the cars with the intention of continuing the journey along the green arrow.
As I got to position 3, I clipped the wing mirror of the car on the right with my hand, wobbled, and then rather inelegantly fell of at position 4. Hmmm. Perhaps not as much space as I thought.
My first thought was that I might have damaged one of the cars; and that at least I had insurance. The guy’s mirror was bent back, so I pushed it back into place and checked it – no damage it seemed. I also checked the front of the car on the left as I had fallen against it – no damage there either. Phew.
The guy in the car I had clipped opened his window.
“Sorry, sorry”, I gabbled, “There’s no damage, it all looks fine. Sorry about that, Sorry.”
“Never mind that”, he said with a concerned tone, ‘Are you all right?”
I looked at him uncomprehendingly for a moment. What was he saying? Surely his car was the most important thing, and then a rant at me for being a scofflaw cyclist. It finally sunk into my brain that he was worried about my welfare. Extraordinary.
“Erm, yes, I’m fine. Absolutely fine. Erm, sorry about that. Bit stupid there.”
He smiled at me, I wheeled the bike to the side of the road, and the traffic moved on.
So I suppose there is a positive to this story after all. There are some jolly nice people out there, it seems. Don’t let the tiny minority of nasty ones get you down.

Sometimes, I make mistakes whilst cycling. Not often (or at least I like to think so), but this morning was one of those days when I did. As a result I ended up sprawled on the road in front of a whole bunch of people, which was all rather embarrassing.
I do reflect on the things I do that were perhaps a bit ill advised in order to learn from them. And I thought by posting this you can either ‘tut tut’ at me, laugh at me or learn with me, as you see fit.
It happened on the way to work, on Kent Street, on the section approaching the Harbour Bridge just after the road goes under the expressway. The traffic was very snarled up and at a standstill, and I was reflecting on how all these inconsiderate car users were holding me up by taking up all the road. As usual, I was making my way between the parked cars on the left and the queue of traffic. As I approached point 1 (see diagram), I was unable to proceed due to a badly parked car, and the proximity of the queuing car to the parking lane.

The traffic wasn’t moving, and another cyclist was also waiting at this point for the traffic to start flowing again. Being a smarty-pants, I decided I would look for a route around the congestion, and rode out to position 2 to assess the way around. it was a bit tight, but I judged I could get through, so proceeded between the cars with the intention of continuing the journey along the green arrow.

As I got to position 3, I clipped the wing mirror of the car on the right with my hand, wobbled, and then rather inelegantly fell of at position 4. Hmmm. Perhaps not as much space as I thought.

My first thought was that I might have damaged one of the cars; and that at least I had insurance. The guy’s mirror was bent back, so I pushed it back into place and checked it – no damage it seemed. I also checked the front of the car on the left as I had fallen against it – no damage there either. Phew.

The guy in the car I had clipped opened his window.

“Sorry, sorry”, I gabbled, “There’s no damage, it all looks fine. Sorry about that, Sorry.”

“Never mind that”, he said with a concerned tone, ‘Are you all right?”

I looked at him uncomprehendingly for a moment. What was he saying? Surely his car was the most important thing, and then a rant at me for being a scofflaw cyclist. It finally sunk into my brain that he was worried about my welfare. Extraordinary.

“Erm, yes, I’m fine. Absolutely fine. Erm, sorry about that. Bit stupid there.”

He smiled at me, I wheeled the bike to the side of the road, and the traffic moved on.

So I suppose there is a positive to this story after all. There are some jolly nice people out there, it seems. Don’t let the tiny minority of nasty ones get you down.

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