FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012

Separation between car and cyclist are the key to cyclist safety and encourage cycling. Only off road cycle paths meet this requirement. The report prepared for the ACT Government back in 2012 by Spackman Mossop Michaels makes clear that cycle lanes are a mistake. Furthermore, comparison of the 2011 ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan shows that very little progress has been made building the cycling network in a decade. Cause for concern.

Cycle lanes on arterials are dangerous

The ACT Government asked Spackman Mossop Michaels for an opinion on its cycling concept. The report Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan (6 August 2012) is clear. Cycle lanes on arterial roads are dangerous and non-compliant with national standards.

The view that cycle planning in the ACT should be exempt from complying with this guidance due to unique street patterns created by topography and design is fallacious and should be removed from the Design Standard.

Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012. 31.

The current policy which allows the provision of on-road bicycle lanes or bicycle shoulders along high volume and/or high speed roads should be amended as a matter of urgency to reflect the National standards for providing safe and comfortable riding environments.

Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012. 34.

fewer than 4 percent of cyclist deaths occur in off-road or ‘non-traffic’ locations (ATSB Road Safety Report 2006).

Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012. 34.

Almost a decade later, the ACT Government has not changed the policy. We need to stop building cycle lanes on arterials that will only encourage people to risk their lives. The problem is unpacked in Section 4 below.

Grand plans but nothing built

The ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012 was made public from a freedom of information request (FOI 20-030).

The following are enlargements of ACT Government’s trunk cycling network from 2007 and 2011 for the area of Belconnen. The images are a little grainy, but you will get the gist. Since 2007 there has been hardly any change to the cycling networks in Belconnen. The ACT Cycling and Pedestrian Network Plan from 2011 is the same today except for the Belconnen Bikeway. Put in this context, the Belconnen Bikeway took ten years to build and is still not finished (as Benjamin Way is still unfinished).

Progress constructing off road cycle infrastructure in the ACT is painfully slow. The planned off road bike path along Belconnen Way past Weetangera and Hawker from Coulter Drive can be seen on the 2011 map as a proposed trunk path (Main Community Route). This path is the extension of the path along Belconnen Way that stops at Coulter Drive. Nothing has been done and its construction is still uncertain. There are other examples to be found on this map.

The proposed trunk network maps from the ACT Cycling and Pedestrian Network Plan from 2011 have never been built. That so little progress has been made would indicate that many more decades could pass before half of this network is built. The CBR Cycle Route network is even less ambitious, and the progress on that too is slow. Meanwhile, the ACT’s pollution is expected to double by 2060.

2007

Belconnen enlargement Trunk cycling network from the Commuter Cycling Network Study 2007
Belconnen enlargement Trunk cycling network from the Commuter Cycling Network Study 2007. Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012.

2011

enlarge of cycle map from Existing and proposed trunk network maps from the ACT Cycling and Pedestrian Network Plan for Belconnen page a6
Enlargement of the cycle map from Existing and proposed trunk network maps from the ACT Cycling and Pedestrian Network Plan for Belconnen. Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012. A6.
existing and proposed trunk network maps from the ACT Cycling and Pedestrian Network Plan
Legend: Existing and proposed trunk network maps from the ACT Cycling and Pedestrian Network Plan. Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012.

Section 2 Existing transport planning assessment

2.2 ACT CYCLING AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT PLANS

ACT Cycling and Pedestrian Network Plan 2011

The key aims of this plan was to further enhance the walking and cycling connectivity across the ACT. This plan proposed network improvements to be developed with the intention of complementing the strategies in the 2010 Sustainable Transport Plan. This plan focused on the development of the trunk network in three key aspects:

• Reviewing of the 2007 Trunk Network and identification of
missing commuter links;
• Identifying addition of major recreational links;
• Separation of proposed links into individual projects.

Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012. 10.

Commuter Cycling Network – Priority for Capital Works

The purpose of this 2007 report was to identify a series of projects that would improve the Trunk Commuter Cycling network to encourage modal change, and to allow Roads ACT to begin to design projects in anticipation of budget allocation.

An updated Main Cycling Network Plan was included as part
of this work. The plan identified the proposed trunk network
categorised into existing infrastructure, proposed infrastructure
and potential future extensions.

Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012, 12.

There is a strong need for a comprehensive cycleway master
plan to be developed for the ACT.
This will benefit from the work
already done on the The Draft ACT Planning Strategy 2011-2012
and Transport for Canberra Policy 2012-2031 plans. Additional
aspects of information that should be included in a comprehensive
cycleway master plan are included throughout this background
review.

Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012, 14.

Section 3 road corridor assessment

General design standards for cycleway networks indicate that speeds of 40 kph or below are optimal for mixed traffic environments typically found on minor collectors and access roads. Where sign posted speeds are at or exceed 80 kph, design standards for cycleway networks recommend having a separated path. Based on this standard, most of the arterial roads in Canberra should have separated paths, but do not currently have these facilities.

Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012, 20

3.7 Road corridor recommendations

Based on the criteria that roads that are sign posted over 60
kph and have a daily traffic volume in excess of 5,000 trips, all
arterial roads should have separated cycleways. This applies
to a large number of major collector roads as well.

Develop a system for conducting trip counts along key on and
off road cycling routes that can be used to establish a robust
baseline of data and track changes in use over time.

Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012, 28.

Section 4 ACT cycleway design standards assessment

4.1 ACT CONTEXT

In describing the ACT context, the current standard identifies a number of key areas where the approach to the provision of bicycle facilities in the ACT varies from that in Austroads and NSW. An argument is presented in section 13.1.3 that seeks to justify why Figure 3.2 of the Austroads Guidelines should not apply in the ACT.

(ed. the ACT argument) “Canberra is a planned city and has a good network of shared paths. However, for faster moving more experienced cyclists who may require a more direct route free of pedestrians and loss of right of way at road crossings, provision of on-road cycling options may be preferred. Due to topography and through design, Canberra does not have a grid or radial street pattern as in other Australian cities and arterial roads are generally the only roads to provide these direct routes. These roads generally have speed limits up to 80km/h and are designed to a high standard generally with controlled access, clearly defined intersections, good sight distances and a much lower volume of heavy vehicles compared to similar roads in other jurisdictions. This is not consistent with the NSW context and Figure 3.2 of the NSW Bicycle Guidelines does not apply in the ACT.”

This argument is fundamentally wrong and does not take into consideration the safety and well being of the cyclist. The issue of separation is one of the most important considerations in designing bicycle facilities. When planning or designing for bicycles, the philosophy and road safety objectives covered in the Guide to Road Safety (Austroads 2006 – 2009) should be actively supported. One of these philosophies is the Safe System approach to road safety which recognises that road users are imperfect and that mistakes will be made. A Safe System design therefore reduces the number of incidences and severity of crashes so that when they do occur the consequences are generally less than death or serious injury. The Safe System approach requires, in part (Australian Transport Council 2006):

Designing, constructing and maintaining a road system (roads, vehicles and operating requirements) so that forces on the human body generated in crashes are generally less than those resulting in fatal or debilitating injury.
• Managing speeds, taking into account the risks on different parts of the road system.
• Improving roads and roadsides to reduce the risk of crashes and minimise harm: measures for higher speed roads including dividing traffic, designing ‘forgiving’ roadsides, and providing clear driver guidance. In areas with large numbers of vulnerable road users or substantial collision risk, speed management supplemented by
road and roadside treatments is a key strategy for limiting crashes.

The figure below is a key Austroads standard that defines the relationship between traffic speed, traffic volume and facility type. It is a guide for planners to employ when determining if it is safe to mix bicycles and motor vehicles on a road. It is as relevant to the planning of cycle facilities in Canberra as it is to all cities in Australian.

Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012, 30-31.
This Austroads standard does not currently apply in the ACT
This Austroads standard does not currently apply in the ACT. Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012. 11.

The ACT on road cycling policy is not compliant with Australian Standards and the Safe System approach. The implications of the policy are great.

4.2 ACT POLICIES

The Design Standard state that current ACT policy is to provide “on-road cycling lane on all new arterial roads” and to consider retrofitting on road cycle facilities on existing arterial roads. This policy has resulted in the installation of shoulder lanes on roads with speeds in excess of 80km/hr. This policy is not in accordance with the Safe System approach to road safety that has been adopted nationally and is the basis from which the Australian standards are set. Rather than promoting awareness and actively supporting the philosophy and road safety objectives covered in the Guide to Road Safety (Austroads 2006-2009), the application of this policy has resulted in the creation of facilities that increase the potential incidence and severity of crashes for cyclists in the ACT.

Perceived and actual traffic hazards are a key constraint on cycling uptake, concern about safety is one of the most significant barriers preventing people from cycling, even for those who cycle regularly.

Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012, 33.

Separation of cyclists and motorists is paramount to increasing cyclists numbers. Whilst it is noted that experienced road cyclists are unlikely to use indirect shared path facilities with lower design speeds, Canberra, being a planned city, is in the unique position of
having enough space to provide high speed and high quality separated facilities, dedicated primarily for use of cyclists.

The current policy which allows the provision of on-road bicycle lanes or bicycle shoulders along high volume and/or high speed roads should be amended as a matter of urgency to reflect the National standards for providing safe and comfortable riding environments. The view that cycle planning in the ACT should be exempt from the national standard because arterial roads in Canberra are designed to a higher standard compared to similar roads in other cities, cannot be justified. Additional ‘cause of death’ data obtained by the ATSB from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveal that fewer than 4 percent of cyclist deaths occur in off-road or ‘non-traffic’ locations (ATSB Road Safety Report 2006).

Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012, 34.

4.3 Cycle and pedestrian network

A unique feature of the current network is the division and duplication of the Main Routes into on-road and off-road facilities. These are described as two mutually independent networks made up of Main Community Routes (off road) and Main On-Road Routes.

Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012, 36.

The duplication of the cycle network is unnecessary and not required.

The purpose of a bicycle network is to enable cyclists of a wide range of abilities and experience to move safely and conveniently to chosen destinations via suitable desire lines (Guide to Traffic Management Austroads 2009).

The current Main Routes Network throughout Canberra contains a notable lack of provisions for inexperienced or less confident cyclists wishing to commute between town centres, employment areas or other key destinations along suitable desire lines. Provision should be made in the Main On-Road Routes standard for a range of facilities that provide separation between cyclists and motorists.

Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012, 37.
none-compliant and complant aterial road facilities page 35
Non-compliant and complant aterial road facilities. Background review and analysis of existing cycle network, ACT Strategic Cycle Network Plan, Technical Report, 6 August 2012. Spackman Mossop Michaels on behalf of ESDD. FOI 20-030 ACT Strategic Cycling Network Plan August 2012, 35.

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