Riding In Sydney

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New Member
Aug 31, 2003
I have attached an article from last weekend's Sydney Morning Herald - "Drive" section. I apologise that I couldn't find a link, as it comes from a supplement, and articles published in supplements are usually not available as links on news sites.

I originally hid the article from my wife, who has just started commuting locally, as there was an editorial comment in blue inserted into the article which ran : I]Triathlete clubs discourage members with families from riding on Sydney roads[/I]. Didn't want her to worry further about traffic issues which shouldn't effect her in the 'burbs, and are a daily issue commuting into the city.

The article raises a few issues, but also points to some positives and touches on topics very near and dear to several sites on this forum.

For your enlightenment if you missed it, or are from other areas.

Colour photo 5 col x 11 cm depicted scene of lone rider - curbside by about 20cms of tarmac, dwarfed by peak-hour 3x3 lanes - probably Paramatta Rd, (near Sydney Uni) but still with a fairly large safety zone around him and the following car indicating a lane change to pass.



("I ride to work, but I work to ride".)

Chain reaction
Author: By Peter McKay.
Date: 07/02/2004
Words: 1162
Source: SMH
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Motoring
Page: 1

The odds are stacked against cyclists in Sydney, but more people than ever are using bikes to get around the city.

The L-plater went past a cyclist on a Sydney street and accelerated dramatically while mouthing obscenities. When something similar happened a little later in the lesson, driver trainer Jeff McDougall pulled him over for a serious chat.
"It turned out that he loathed bike riders," said McDougall, who is the state president of the Australian Driver Trainers Association. "As a kid, he had accompanied his father in his truck and his dad hated cyclists. He routinely cursed them and, I gathered, also intimidated them. This father had, perhaps unwittingly, passed on his own overly aggressive, dangerous habits to his son."
Motorists' attitudes to cyclists here are, at best, ambivalent. McDougall notes a widespread ignorance among drivers about how to deal with moving past bike riders safely. He teaches new drivers to, where possible, change lanes rather than squeeze past cyclists: "Drivers should be aware that cyclists occasionally hit potholes or objects on the road, which can unseat them. They also can be blown sideways by wind gusts."
While he accepts that some rogue cyclists test drivers' patience and sense of fair play when they ride through red lights, or weave between cars stopped in traffic, McDougall says bike riders have every right to be on the road (it is illegal for adults to ride on footpaths) and that it is legal for cyclists to pass stationary vehicles on the left.
"I know some people believe cyclists should be subjected to a form of licensing, but perhaps motorists should accept that pushbikes are healthy zero-emissions transport for some. And, in a small way, they help ease the peak-traffic congestion and parking problems," McDougall said.
Our attitudes to cycling and cyclists contrast starkly with those in Europe where, in Amsterdam and other cycle-friendly cities, two-wheelers are treated with respect. It's uncool to scare or threaten road-users who are so patently vulnerable.
In the Netherlands, where traffic volume is similar to that of Sydney, there is high emphasis on safe cycle networks. As cold as it can be in that country, there are 14 times as many trips by bicycle and eight times more bicycle kilometres ridden than in Australia.
Crash statistics from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau suggest that, while fewer bike riders are being killed on our roads now than 15 years ago, there are still plenty of bad years.
Local triathlete clubs discourage members with families from riding on Sydney roads. While riding a bike in Australia's largest city is not exactly akin to going off to war, it is nevertheless a risky business.
Australia was the first country to introduce compulsory bicycle helmet legislation (1990-92). Helmet-wearing rates soared with the introduction of compulsory use, but bike use declined in the years following the legislation. While some people dislike donning helmets, adult helmet-wearing compliance has remained high since; children's less so.
But compulsory helmet-wearing can send a mixed message, says Neil Tonkin, the chief executive of Australia's largest cycling organisation, Bicycle NSW.
"Governments cite health issues like heart disease and obesity in the community to encourage people to ride more," Tonkin said. "Yet, by insisting that riders must wear helmets, they suggest that cycling is inherently dangerous. The road safety view may be hurting the health message."
Tonkin reminds parents that children below the age of 12 are allowed to ride on footpaths, along with accompanying adults. But bike use has fundamentally changed over the past generation. Kids today rarely cycle to school; parents are worried about the dangers. This wasn't the case a few decades ago, when traffic volume was far lower than today's levels. "A whole generation of Sydneysiders hasn't ridden bikes; some people think cyclists are some kind of vermin," Tonkin said.
But 1.1 million cycles were imported into Australia during the last financial year. More bikes were sold than new motor vehicles. The RTA of NSW says that 1.15 million Sydney households have a cycle - that's a jump of 41 per cent since 1991.
More Sydneysiders than ever are riding, although Sydney is not a perfect city for cycling because of the terrain, narrow roads and dearth of a comprehensive network of safe cycleways that connect commercial centres, public transport terminals, schools and civic areas. There are also limited facilities to park and secure bicycles.
But Tonkin is encouraged by the commitment by the State Government to BikePlan 2010, which has $251 million allocated to bike infrastructure over 10 years. State Roads Minister Carl Scully has a personal interest in the project: he is a cyclist.
Most of the money is being spent in Sydney's west. It's more open and easier to construct a bike network there than in congested inner-city areas, where to take precious road space for bikes would be to commit political suicide. A coastal cycleway is also planned, giving people along the Pacific the opportunity to ride to nearby towns rather than drive.
"The most cycle-friendly cities in the world are also the most liveable cities," said Rosemary Speidel, of the Cycle Promotion Fund.
Cycling is a viable transport option for people who live within a 3-5km radius of the CBD. Trips into the city by cyclists have more than doubled since 1991, though bike riders remain a tiny proportion of commuters.
There are proposals to encourage cycling within Central Sydney with marked bicycle routes through the city, a recreational foreshore route from Pyrmont to Woolloomooloo and other measures, including the provision of additional bicycle parking facilities.
Bikes are permitted on trains and ferries in Sydney, although sometimes a small charge applies. Secure bicycle lockers are also provided for medium-term rental at selected railway stations and ferry wharves.
"If people realised how inefficient the motor vehicle is, they'd understand why we are so determined to get road space for cycles," said Tonkin, who is encouraged by research revealing that 70 per cent of Sydneysiders favour "active" transport - interconnecting walkways, cycleways and public transport - over more urban freeways.
He insists that it shouldn't be hard for people to occasionally leave their motor vehicles at home and take the bike out instead - 55 per cent of car trips are shorter than 5km; 33 per cent are shorter than 3km.

"SteveDel" wrote ...

>: I]Triathlete clubs discourage members with
> families from riding on Sydney roads. >

That would be news to the tri clubs I have ridden with in Sydney over the years (LAPD,
BRATS, Steam.)

It would also be news to the cycling clubs I have ridden with (Sydney, Waratahs, RBCC, Bushies,

By ridden I mean joined an organised ride and chatted with over coffee.

Not one of them ever enquired as to my familial status and the only thing life insurers have ever
asked me about when taking out a policy was a deviant wish to fly occasionally other than by
airlines (not a good insurance risk apparently). Cycling does not seem to rate on a life insurers
increased risk profile.

I would be interested to know the basis of that statement - otherwise thanks for posting an
interesting article.

best, Andrew (who has every intention of teaching his great grand kids to ride, in Sydney, one day)
Ah yes, the usual toss from motoring journos and the wooly-hats at BiNSW. Nobody ever dares suggest
the massive improvement in driver *and rider* skill that's actually needed to improve this city's
traffic enviromnment. Politicians know it would be electoral suicide to teach everyone a decent
level of driving skill, and retest all the drivers on the road, failing a large percentage of them
for being useless drongos who even shouldn't be in charge of a radio-controlled car. BiNSW and its
ilk will drive members away in droves if they dare to suggest that there's a big pile of skills and
techniques needed to ride safely in traffic. "What, we cyclists ae not perfect non-polluting, eco-
friendly gods and goddesses?"

Better for all to dribble on about segregated paths that don't go anywhere useful and can't be
ridden at speeds that get you anywhere before the middle of next week, and cycle lanes that dump you
at intersections after safely guiding you through the straight uninterrupted parts of the road,
where accidents are incredibly rare anyway.

A pox on both their houses.
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