Friday, October 01, 2004

Council to U-turn on bike lanes

It appears council's Richard Campbell (Manager Transport & Traffic) has lost his fight to banish the separated bike lanes proposed for William Street in favour of shared bus/bike lanes.

Cycle activists last night met with Deputy Mayor John McInerney and say that he is willing to reverse council's 13 September decision in favour of shared lanes. A BikeSydney spokesperson (no pun intended) said Campbell had 'hoodwinked' councillors. Many of these staff date from the Sartor days when council was notoriously anti-cycle and had taken no action on several council bike plans since the early '90s.

Liberal Cr Shayne Mallard, backed by Labor's Tony Pooley and Greens Chris Harris, had called for separated cycle lanes, Copenhagen style, to avoid the 'suicide lane' effect of shared lanes which expose cyclists to car doors being suddenly opened, and vehicles including buses crossing and stopping in the lane.

In most Western cities, 10% of passenger journeys are by bike. In Sydney it is less than 1%, with obvious impacts on traffic congestion, public transport crowding, and pollution. Cycle activists say the main reason more people don't commute by bike is the sheer danger of mixing with vehicle traffic on the roads.

Motorists should also welcome the cycle lanes -- they would not only get many cyclists out of their way, but it takes five or more cyclists to occupy the space of one vehicle on the road, so driving conditions and safety on the roads would improve disproportionately with every driver who switches to cycling.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Editor of the Sun Herald

Mr Phil Maclean.

Dear Mr Maclean,

The Sun Herald has had a go at the Centennial Park story in quite a disgraceful way.  Your reporter Alex Mitchell has made no attempt to balance his article and has not quoted any cyclists.  It really is a very biased piece.  I suggest that you have Mr Mitchell review The Sydney Morning Herald code of ethics:

Alex Mitchell talks about walkers, apparent senior citizens, who are intimidated by large bunches of cyclists "flying" around the park's sweeping roadways at high speeds.  Well this is incorrect as the cyclists restrict themselves to the bicycle lane wherever possible which is located on the outer perimeter of the Grand Drive.  They restrict themselves to the main roadway (singular).  They hardly fly around the park's sweeping roadways (plural).

Why they would pose a threat to walkers is beyond me as the park provides a walking track on the inside perimeter of the grand Drive which is quite a distance away the Cycling lane.  I f they are supposed to pose a threat to persons crossing the road, I find that hard to believe as well as they pass any point  on the Grand Drive in a matter of seconds and don't appear again for an entire lap which takes anything up to 8 minutes.  The only way any walker could be in danger of a collision is if they were walking illegally within the bicycle lane.  The other question which comes to mind is this: "Wouldn't retirees by enjoying the park in the middle of the day when the sunshine and weather is at its best?  Surely they are not walking around at dusk and dawn on cold winter evenings and mornings which is of course the time when the bunches are training in Centennial Park.

I assume that in suggesting that this bunch poses a threat to "retirees",  Alex Mitchell is suggesting that the threat is posed to senior citizens. I am a retiree however  I  certainly do not regard myself as a senior citizen.  Neither do I feel threatened by a bunch of dedicated athletes who train together a few times per week.  I might point out that many of the bunch captured by your photographer, are in fact senior citizens themselves trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle in their later years.  I can indicate that the rider in the middle of the bunch in the red shorts and yellow helmet is a gentleman in his sixties.  The gentleman immediately to his left and a little to the rear in the red & white striped top, black shorts and white helmet is a sixty two year old Catholic priest who is a member of the Randwick Botany Cycling club.  This bunch that Andrew Taylor has captured is hardly the bunch of intimidating louts that Alex Mitchell infers them to be.

As for Clover Moore's statement that cyclists think that they can dominate the park, let me supply you with the results of a survey:

This research was presented to CP at our first workshop in Sept 2001. It showed that cycling accounted for around 25% of Grand Drive activity. But most of that was 'training' cyclists (small groups) or 'recreational' cyclists (generally alone or in pairs). Actual bunch training occurred during only 7% of available daylight hours (less if you discount 5:45 to 6:30 through the winter!). Our research also shows that the 'frightener' put out by the park that bunches constitute 60 cyclists on a permanent basis is just plain wrong. The true pattern is one whereby several small groups start up between 4:00 and 4:30pm. These groups and individuals come together like blobs of mercury. The bunch generally peaks as a single entity sometime between 5:00 and 5:30pm with between 40 and 50 cyclists for a brief period. The bunch then breaks up into smaller groups, which then disperse and leave the Park.

Remember also that this only happens on two afternoons a week: Tuesday and Thursday. The morning bunches on Tuesday and Thursday are much smaller. They are generally under the control of a coach and rarely get into double figures.

Ms Moore's assertion that cyclists are not prepared to work with other park users is absurd.  We have formed a consultative body called Cycle Centennial which represents the interests of hundreds of riders from many of the Sydney cycling and triathlon clubs.  We have been in constructive consultation with Centennial Parklands Administration for over 2 years during which time we have had several workshops and meetings with them. 

It is obvious that Mr Mitchell does not let the truth get in the way of a good story.  However if indeed your paper wants to present an accurate account of the facts, the history and all documentation detailing Cycle Centennial's consultation with Centennial Parkland's Administration can be viewed at:


John Buckton

Delegate of Cycle Centennial