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The Forum > Article Comments > Bicycles: sustainable transport needs city infrastructure > Comments

Bicycles: sustainable transport needs city infrastructure : Comments

By Alan Parker, published 30/5/2012

Urban planners and engineers need to get on their bikes.

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Many thanks for your efforts, Mr Parker.

I think the problem in Australia is prosperity; cars are taken for granted as a minimum standard, whereas in Europe there's much more take-up of public transport and alternatives like cycling. The even bigger problem is cars in Oz are status symbols and extensions of egos. This dissuades many people from taking up bicycles and the rationalisation of below-par infrastructure is thus maintained. But not only do cyclists have below standard and often dangerous accommodation on the roads in Australia, they also have to contend with egomaniacs in cars, regular abuse and dangerous practices.
I pin my hopes on the price of fuel forcing more people onto bikes and overcoming the petrol-head hegemony in this country.

I btw have an arthritic hip and the cyclings great for it!
Posted by Squeers, Wednesday, 30 May 2012 7:55:36 AM
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Maintain your rage, Mr Parker, the country needs you!
When petrol prices inevitably rise (the IMF says they'll double in 10 years but I suspect it will be before that), people will be 'onya bike' in a flash though I suspect there will be competition from small electric cars. You didn't mention helmets though - it's not a requirement in Copenhagen or Amsterdam where I witnessed the bike culture fairly recently. I wonder how much the helmet law puts people off riding bikes in Australia, even if it might save their lives?
Posted by popnperish, Wednesday, 30 May 2012 9:16:09 AM
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Here's a nice complementary article in the Age today:
http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/drop-speeds-ditch-helmets-cycling-experts-say-20120529-1zg64.html
Posted by popnperish, Wednesday, 30 May 2012 9:28:49 AM
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Well said Squeers.

I was an avid cyclist for about 40 years. Havenít ridden for a couple of years now. The main reason is that Iíve come to realise how hazardous it is Ö. and as a regular runner, I get my aerobic exercise in other ways.

Most people who want to commute by bicycle would want to move along at a reasonable speed. But if you are going to mix it with cars out on the open road, or with pedestrians on combined walkways/cycleways, then it becomes rather precarious.

With a well-planned cycleway network, it is much safer, but still a whole lot more risky to your own safety than driving in the city and suburban environment. Youíd still have a mixture of fast cyclists, slow cyclists and pedestrians perhaps with children and dogs, all of which makes for a quite an interesting situation.

Many cyclists would rather ride out on the open road than on cycleways because they get an easier path of travel.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of cyclists that are just not safety-conscious. And doubly unfortunately, the law allows them to be like this.

For example, lots of cyclists have a ridiculously tiny white flashing or non-flashing light on the front with or without a red light on the back, which you can hardly see in amongst all manner of other lights in the city environment. They get a false sense of security and consequently ride much less carefully than they would if they had no lights.

In conjunction with an improved cycleway network, we would also need much better education, improvements in the law, improved regulation, and perhaps in some situations dedicated cycleways where pedestrians are not allowed.

Good article Alan.
Posted by Ludwig, Wednesday, 30 May 2012 9:43:27 AM
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Bicycles are great and have their place in transport but there is a developing arrogance in some cyclists who are subtly encouraged to demand rather than negotiate their rights on the roads by politicians. This is dangerous because roads are not made suitable for bike lanes by simply stamping a bicycle on it. Conflict between cars and cyclists is encouraged by the characterisation of car drivers as selfish and polluting and wasteful while cyclists are depicted as fit healthy and 'Green'.

We need raised bike lanes or bike lanes with physical barriers like they have in Europe. We also need a program to encourage an understanding of the needs of both bike and car drivers not conflict.

Every place I've been with good bike lanes also have good public transport thus diminishing the need for cars. Simply declaring a bike lane on major road without preparation for drivers is poor planning.
Posted by Atman, Wednesday, 30 May 2012 9:58:17 AM
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I agree with your comments, Ludwig.
I'd add too that it must be admitted some cyclists incur the wrath of motorists in flaunting the road rules, though I think they're a small minority of adult riders, no greater, proportionally, than the number of bad motorists.
I'm in favour as much as possible of sharing the roads, rather than expensive dedicated pathways, and thus in dropping the speed limits in CBD's
Posted by Squeers, Wednesday, 30 May 2012 10:21:36 AM
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