driving transport

Cyclists on the footpath

I described this on Twitter the other day, but I’ll expand on it here.

I was heading out in the car on Saturday afternoon.

Got in, beeped, looked behind me, slowly backed-out of my driveway.

BANG! A cyclist riding along the footpath with his dog (roughly at running pace) collided with my car.

I stopped, moved my car back into the driveway, and asked if he was okay. Thankfully he was. And his dog.

They carried on down the street, at the same speed.

Bicycles parked at Ormond station

Cyclists on footpaths

Cycling forms a vital part of the transport network, helping people travel longer distances than might be practical by walking, but without having to drive a vehicle.

Sometimes there are good reasons for cyclists to avoid riding on the road. Riding on some roads can be perilous due to driver behaviour.

Probably not my on street though. It’s fairly quiet. But what would you do if taking the dog out for a run?

In Victoria it’s completely legal to ride on the footpath for cyclists under 12, or accompanying those under 12. (Regulation 250)

(The bloke I encountered was an adult.)

The problem isn’t so much the bicycle itself, as the speed compared to other footpath users.

Just as cyclists come of worse in on-road collisions with motor vehicles, pedestrians come of worse in footpath collisions with cyclists.

For a bike going at anything much above walking speed, there’s a real danger of a collision with a vehicle or a person, especially given limited visibility to/from driveways and garden paths — in fact years ago one of my sons was hit by a cyclist while coming out of a front garden gate.

And yet some cyclists will persist in riding at speed along footpaths. Really not a good idea.

What could I have done?

My fence isn’t high, but the speed he was going, I’d have little chance of spotting him even if driving out forwards.

And he obviously didn’t spot me, and either didn’t hear the beep, or didn’t realise where it came from, or couldn’t stop in time.

There is one thing I could do: my driveway is short enough that I could have a quick look up and down the footpath before I get in the car. It might help.


Bike lanes that don’t disappear 50m before an intersection? Yes, it is possible.

As an occasional cyclist, nothing puts me off like feeling unsafe.

Bike lanes help me feel safer, but tend to fizzle out before intersections — just where many cyclists would consider that you need them the most.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s a real life example of continuous bike lanes: the corner of Alma and Kooyong Roads, Caulfield North.

Looking south:
Bike lanes at intersection of Alma and Kooyong Roads, Caulfield North

Looking west:
Bike lanes at intersection of Alma and Kooyong Roads, Caulfield North

Maybe this isn’t news to some of you, but I don’t think I’ve seen a local intersection laid out like this before.

Someone somewhere has obviously decided that it’s okay if occasionally a pedestrian (or a cyclist) holds up a left-turning vehicle, in turn holding up vehicles going straight ahead.

You can’t have two lanes going straight ahead, because with the bike lanes there’s only room for three lanes (altogether).

But it shows that it is possible to provide bike lanes that don’t vanish when approaching an intersection.

Build bike lanes like these up into a continuous network and we might see a lot more cyclists.

  • According to a map on City of Glen Eira’s roads page, the council (not VicRoads) is responsible for the management of both of these roads.
  • Under the VicRoads SmartRoads strategy (still not signed-off by the council), both are local roads, though Kooyong Road is also identified as a bus priority route (route 605 runs uses it).

General Motors: “Stop pedaling, start driving” vs Giant Bicycles’ comeback

General Motors’ campaign in US college newspapers:

GM's "Stop pedaling, start driving" campaign

(via Bike Portland)

Seems to be implying that driving is cooler than cycling. Pretty funny… to a lot of the younger generation (including Americans, at least in cities like Portland), there’s nothing cool about driving a huge truck.

Anyway, here’s Giant Bicycles’ comeback:

Giant Bicycles, comeback to GM "Stop pedaling" campaign

(via Justin Haugens)

GM have apparently now pulled the ad.


Bike helmets

Radio National’s Background Briefing had a feature story on the bike helmet debate yesterday morning. You can download it and listen to it here.

It talks about Melbourne’s bike share scheme; the experience in Europe (where cyclist numbers are higher, but injuries are lower) vs Australia (which it sounds like is the only country with compulsory bike helmet laws, since 1990, and is now cited in Europe has how not to do things); what really makes cyclists safe (investment in separate bike paths and lanes); the changing attitudes to road investment in European cities (concentrating on cars in the 50s, but switching back to cyclists and pedestrians in the 70s and ever since); and the ego and antagonism from both cyclists and motorists.

My conclusion:

On an individual level, your risk of injury is undoubtedly lessened by wearing a helmet. (One of the medical experts said you’re four times less likely to incur head injuries.)

But on a communal level, it’s quite possible that society might well be better off by not having compulsory helmet laws — because they discourage people, and in cycling, safety comes in numbers — and instead concentrating on more bike lanes and bike paths, as they have in the most successful cycling cities in Europe.

(Certainly for me the concern about sharing space with cars and trucks is my biggest worry about cycling.)

In turn, cities with less people cycling means less overall health benefit from active transport, so a less healthy society overall.

One contributor to the programme suggested that a study needs to be conducted, which could involve one state repealing (at least temporarily) its helmet laws, to see what happens.

Health transport

The walk to the station is doing you good

Seems some people can’t see the trees for the forest.

A HIGH school has banned bicycles because it has no bike shed and it doesn’t want to encourage students who refuse to wear helmets.

Hume Central Secondary College’s policy has puzzled health and cycling groups amid growing concern about childhood obesity.

In the same newsletter, she [Principal Bronwyn Meek] complained about the dangerous congestion caused by too many cars around afternoon pick-up time.

— Herald Sun: Hume Central Secondary College bans bikes

Meanwhile, a study by BusVic concluded that users of public transport get an average five times more walking time per day than those who use private transport.

  • Public transport (all users): 41 mins
  • Public transport, no private transport: 47 mins
  • Private transport (cars, taxis, motorcycles), but no public transport: 8 mins
  • Overall Melbourne average: 15 mins

And they looked at which areas of Melbourne have the lowest average minutes per day walking and cycling. Hardly surprising that it’s the areas which have the poorest public transport, where people are dependent on their cars for most trips.

Melbourne active transport

And people wonder why there’s an obesity crisis.

I may not always enjoy the walk to the station, but I know it’s good for me, and because it’s built into my daily routine, it always happens.

I’m just lucky I live in an area where I’ve got that choice.