Riding on a busy road is not for most people but some would not be without it. On-road cycle lanes are relatively cheap to build as they are a continuation of the road surface. The intent has been to add cycle lanes when the road is resurfaced. On-road cycle lanes are not separated from the road and motor vehicles often find their way onto them. This is not legal but few think twice about it.
It is not just about safety but respect for other road users.
A roundabout in Higgins. The dual-lane carriageway gets a lot of traffic, so the cyclist rides off the road before the roundabout and back on afterwards. Ramps and a bike path are provided for this purpose.
It only works though if cars do not park on the bike lane. Plenty of room here to park somewhere else. Unfortunately, this problem is not uncommon.
Cycling in Canberra means zigzagging around hazards. We take our ability to navigate traffic hazards for granted but it is a hard one. Children, the elderly, and people with disabilities are often greatly disadvantaged. As cyclists, we know that good infrastructure makes all the difference. It can be scary to see how bent up and buckled it can be.
Cycling infrastructure is underfunded. No surprise there. A recent article in The Conversation discusses the problem.
“Cycling and walking can help drive Australia’s recovery – but not with less than 2% of transport budgets“, The Conversation, 23 July 2020.
There are good reasons for the ACT Government to invest in cycling infrastructure. Here are three:
Cycling road fatalities are not all that common but injuries are. Navigating roads are in cities is a constant challenge for vulnerable road users including cyclists and pedestrians. The very old and young are, particularly at risk. We want to reduce cycling injuries on the road and not least for our kids.
Gravel riding, mountain bike riding, and cycling on separated bike paths – far from a road – are relatively safe. Injuries are possible but fatalities unlikely. Cyclists have much greater risks riding on roads. Collisions with a motor vehicle are more likely to be fatal. This is the story of what makes motor vehicles so deadly.
Canberra.bike recently discussed Austroads recommendations for 30km/h speed limits on local streets. Many local streets are barely wide enough for two cars to pass and without community paths. Despite this, the speed limit is 50km/h on local streets in Canberra. If a child gets injured, the motorist’s apologies are not likely to help either the child or the family – or the driver. This is the problem of vulnerable road users. Collisions are often fatal.
In Germany, the land of the Autobahn, cars driving 200km/h are not uncommon, with some reaching 240km/h. At this speed, the car roars and the fuel gauge plummets. Cars that change lanes loom up at an unnerving speed. The German government is considering reducing speed limits on autobahns to just 160km/h. Some Germans protest against driving so slowly. Other groups point out the benefits that include far less noise in the surrounding areas, and reduced fuel consumption, pollution and less road deaths.
Many Canberrans would say Germans are crazy to drive so fast, but then the Germans react the same way to us. In Germany, the speed limit in cities is 50km/h, even on major two-lane roads, and often even slower on local streets. To a German, driving faster than 50km/h on a local street is considered dangerous. Austroads would agree, yet this is our situation in Canberra.