May 192012
 

What Individual Cyclists Had To Say About the Car Dooring Bill

The Parliamentary Inquiry into the Car Dooring Bill (which increases the maximum penalty for car dooring and introduces demerit points to the offence) recieved 90 submissions, indicating the level of community concern about car dooring and cyclist safety more generally. Most of the submissions were from private individuals. Here we present extracts of these, which shed light on issues such as the prevalence of car dooring, the weak enforcement of car dooring offences, motorists’ frequent failure to accept responsibility for car dooring offences, the need for better infrastructure and the need to improve cycling safety to get more people riding. Almost all of the submissions supported tougher penalties, but also stronger enforcement and more driver education. All submissions are available in full at the at Parliament of Victoria website. The final hearing is this Wednesday night 23 May – details here. You can read Melbourne BUG’s submission to the Inquiry here.

Linda Tivendale (mother of Andrew Tivendale, who was seriously injured in a car dooring accident)

My son, Andrew, was seriously injured on March 24, 2011 when a woman opened her car door as he was cycling along Lygon Street Brunswick. He was in a coma for six weeks, in hospital for a total of four months and underwent further rehabilitation as an outpatient until February of this year. We are very fortunate – he is deaf in one ear and one of his lungs is badly damaged but he has regained his strength and his memory. He will live with an acquired brain injury forever but, at this stage, it is not severe and he returned to full time employment two weeks ago. We have no way of knowing how his health will be affected in the long term.

The woman who opened her door received an infringement notice and a fine of $122.14. I have not spent any time wishing that she should be ‘punished’ – in the beginning I had more important things to worry about and I assume that she is remorseful and feels terrible about what happened.

Nevertheless, I believe that the penalty for car dooring should be increased and that it should become a summary offence dealt with by a magistrate. I think this would represent the gravity of what can occur when someone fails to look before opening their door. It is accepted that drivers must look before they cross an intersection, a pedestrian crossing, or just when driving down a straight stretch of road – it should not be somehow less important that they look before they open their car door.

To have to stand before a magistrate and acknowledge that their actions were careless and harmful would be, for us, an acknowledgement of how our life has changed through their behaviour. I know that I would appreciate an apology from the woman who opened her door.

I believe that a more substantial fine and increased demerit points are a deterrent. People do not sit in their car and decide to open their door into oncoming cyclists because it won’t cost them much – they open their car door because they don’t actually pause to think. When fines increase, most of us pause to think a bit more – be that fines for not wearing bike helmets, not buying a tram ticket, speeding or illegal parking. When we lose a large number of demerit points in a single event, we pause to think a bit more before we speed again.

I don’t want retribution and punishment – I would like something that has serious consequences to be treated seriously.

Andrew Tivendale

The woman who so carelessly* opened her door on that night was fined $122. $122 for nearly killing me, taking a year from me, for putting everyone I care about through immeasurable trauma.

I believe the penalty should be dramatically increased. Not to be punitive, but to provide people alighting from cars with the motivation (a key word, motivation) to make sure they do so without harming anybody. It takes so little effort for someone to check before opening a door, and yet it simply does not happen, so often. Mainly, we need to educate our drivers better about the hazards to other, vulnerable road users. However a stiff penalty will certainly go a long way to decreasing these incidents, having people consider other road users before opening their doors. Their license should be effected, as should their pocket. This is not about punishment, just about giving car users a reason to behave in a manner which is safe for all road users.

The penalty should also be applied more vigorously. At the moment, if a person says in their statement to police “I looked” then the minimum fine is imposed. In my case (why I used the “so carelessly*” above) there is simply no way she could have looked. I was wearing a high-visibility reflective vest and had flashing lights front and rear. I was actually outside her window when she opened her door (her door then pushed me into traffic). If she had looked she would have seen me.

Dr Nicola Martin (mother of James Cross, who was killed in a car dooring crash. The driver was never charged).

Perhaps if the penalty is more of a “stick” the deterrent effect would make the public more aware and hopefully more careful. I don’t know. I still feel the best thrust are the first 2 points – education and infrastructure. However, at the coronial inquest, it was stated by the police officer leading the accident investigation into James’ death that a decision was made by a senior officer at Booroondarra police station not to charge the driver involved. No reason was given. We understand that the maximal penalty that could have been imposed was 3 penalty points. In the document of the Standing Committee “under the current regulations the specified infringement penalty for car dooring is 1 penalty point [$122.14]. ” That is the same penalty as exceeding the speed limit by less than 15km on a freeway.

Our son was killed.

It seems extraordinary that a police officer can unilaterally decide not to impose a penalty on a driver when the result of their error is the death of a person.

Melinda Payne

I have been a victim of car dooring. I took this matter to the police, after collecting details from the car owner and a witness. The police informed me the matter could be taken to court, however it would be hard to prove that the said person had not looked before opening their car door. This to me seemed to make little sense, as if the said person had actually looked before opening their car door, they would have had to have seen me, as I also take extra caution to wear a high visible bike vest when I ride. The police officer said they would issue a warning to the said person. I believe the matter went no further, not on my behalf anyway.

Jelmer Akse

Every cyclist knows that the police will not show up at a dooring incident unless there are injuries. Even then it is said they need persuasion or an ambulance to be called to the accident site. This incident, as well as many others i have heard about from friends (most stories include a large dose of cynicism about Vicpol and the way incidents are handled) went unreported.

Erin Kelly

Having been car-doored late 2011 I was unaware of what action I could take against the driver. I was lucky enough to avoid serious injury, my bike was not, and the driver left me on the footpath as she had to hurry off for dinner. I was riding in a reflective vest, with front and back lights and still the driver did not notice me. I had to pay for the doctor and bike mechanic myself and was out of work for a week. The driver didn’t even offer to pay for the damage to the bike. I did not take action with TAC against the diver as she hurried off before I was through the shock enough to start asking what happens next or for her details.

I would like to make clear that I think the penalties for drivers car-dooring cyclists is nowhere near appropriate or fair. The fine should be increased, there should be demerit points taken off the license. The reason this must be implemented is that there is absolutely no incentive for drivers to look out for cyclists with the current state of penalties being what it is.

Dr Jan Garrard

Both my son and his partner were injured by dooring incidents when they were school students. My son was cycling (in daylight hours) to a shop where he was doing work experience, when a driver opened his car door into his path, causing my son to collide with the car door. My son was treated in the emergency department of the local hospital for an injured hand. The driver refused to accept responsibility for his actions and blamed my son for the collision, claiming that he was wearing dark clothes, riding a dark bicycle and cycling too fast – none of which was true. The case was heard in the magistrate’s court where my young son had to give evidence and be questioned by the driver’s solicitor in a way that effectively blamed my son for the collision and his injuries. The magistrate found against the driver and fined him the small available penalty.

This driver, like many others in Victoria (as demonstrated by high rates of dooring incidents and injuries), clearly felt no responsibility for checking for a cyclist before opening his car door. The implication is that it is the cyclist who must stay clear of car doors that are suddenly flung open. This is neither desirable nor always possible, particularly if cars have dark-tinted windows (cyclists cannot see if there is someone in the car), or if swerving to avoid a car door is likely to result in a collision with another vehicle.

Cyclists are highly dependent for their safety on other road users’ behaviours – much more so than heavily protected car occupants. Dooring a cyclist is much more likely to result in serious injury than dooring another car. In countries that have much lower rates of cycling injuries than Australia, the operator of the vehicle that has the potential to cause the most harm has a clear responsibility for avoiding harm, and road rules and penalties, including for dooring, reflect this risk imbalance.

Andrew Ashton

Hi There,

I ride with my kids on the back of my bike. They love it.

I’ve had about a dozen near misses from car doors being opened in front of me, usually with plenty of time to swerve. I’m fearful of it happening with no time to avoid an accident. Hope you can do something to help.

Tim Anders

We are the most vulnerable road users, forced to run the narrow gauntlet between moving traffic on one side, and the risk of car doors or unpredictable parking behaviour on the other, all while being completely unprotected (helmets offer only the least protection). For every serious injury reported to police there are many more that go unreported, and exponentially more near misses. While the amendment to the Road Safety Act is ultimately a punitive and ‘post-fact’ measure, with a statewide education campaign I believe it could dramatically reduce the risk of injury to cyclists. The amendment is of course no substitute for better cycling infrastructure, which only adds to its importance.

Clair Schultz

I am submitting details of my close calls with car doors because I think that Melbourne is an amazing city that is so easy to get around in by bicycle. But I have many friends who don’t cycle as they are concerned about the safety. Any steps towards increasing the safety of cyclists will increase the number of cyclists on the road, which makes for an even more livable city.

Bill Cawte

There is however a broader indirect effect [of car dooring] which concerns the discouragement of cycling in our cities. The reality and perception that cyclists are typically squeezed between fast moving motor traffic on their right, and stationary motor vehicles (with the ever-present and unpredictable risk of opening doors) on their left, serves to make cycling a much less attractive proposition to large sections of the public. This result is contrary to the interests, not only of cyclists, but of all sections of the community. Every individual who is persuaded that our roads are safe enough for them to ride on represents another seat on a tram, train or bus, or one less car on the road. It is my hope that this current inquiry considers this outcome to be one of the main, if not the main, underlying objective of its deliberations.

Kim Lambie

I have been hit by a car door before and thrown from my bike and couldn’t walk, or work for a month. I still do not have full nerve endings in that area of my leg 6 years later.

Julian Morton

My own experience of close calls often result in the “sorry didn’t see you” or worse “not my fault you shouldn’t be riding there” response. An awareness campaign with tougher penalties will increase people actively looking for bikes rather than just cars when they open car doors.

Austin Bicycle User Group

Many of us have learnt to move out when passing parked cars, to give at least 1m of space between the parked car and bike, to allow safety room in case the door is opened. However, cars following you often become annoyed if you move out into their lane to create that safety margin, and novice riders can find themselves dangerously drifting into following traffic

Bicycle path infrastructure, whilst improving, remains suboptimal. Many of the green marked bike lanes in the city pass right next to the drivers side door of parked cars. Riders can be left with a false impression of safety traveling in the bike lane, when they could be ‘doored’ unexpectedly at any time.

Greta Gillies

As a regular cyclist often ‘trapped’ in a bike lane between parked cars and motor traffic I am constantly conscious of the doors of parked opening on me. While I have never been hit by a door, there have been many near misses that could have left me seriously injured or dead. I worry also for parents who ride with children on their bikes, that the number of injuries and fatalities would be even worse if they were to be hit or were to swerve to avoid a car door.

Narelle Graefe

I was hit by a car door being opened approximately 6 years ago. I was riding in the bike lane in William St when a passenger got out of a car stopped at the traffic lights, 5 cars back from the intersection. The passenger didn’t look and opened their door directly into my path. Luckily I was slowing down due to the red light, so only had minor injuries. I did have to have three physio sessions though. It could easily have been much worse.

Peter Campbell

The Victorian Government has a duty of care for the people of Victoria. It is important that strong measures be taken to reduce the incidence of “car dooring” by increasing penalties, more driver education about avoiding “car dooring” and by provision of bicycle routes and paths physically separated from other vehicle traffic.

Peter Eade

I have been a cyclist on Melbourne roads for about five years, and unexpectedly opening car doors is in my opinion the most dangerous obstacle cyclists face in the inner city. Whatever the reported instances are, you probably have to at least quadruple them to approach the scale of the problem. I myself have been involved in a number of incidents which I have not reported, and know of friends for whom it is the same. One friend went right over a car door that was opened in his path, only to then get up, bloody and bruised, and have the driver complain that he had damaged his car door. I ride in constant fear of it happening.

Glenn Osboldstone

Approximately 6 years ago I was riding up Milton St, just off Dudley St in the CBD (near the Victoria Market), when a woman failed to look before she opened her car door. I crashed into it and then fell onto the road, injuring my leg and totalling my bike. An ambulance attended and I received first aid to my leg and for shock. Following that crash I am extremely cautious riding past parked cars. It is one reason I do not ride to work as much as I used to.

Frank Reinthaler

I need not tell you that cyclists are, along with pedestrians, the most vulnerable of all road users. Much maligned, often due to the irresponsible actions of some (but more often I think due to the frustration that car drivers experience when stuck in traffic when cyclists ride or filter past them), cyclists nevertheless fully deserve the protection of the law against careless and negligent motorists.

James at Velo cycles

I work in a bike shop, and see the injuries / damage to bikes from dooring on a regular basis, not to mention the stories / complaints from our customers.

Helen Vorrath

My worst ‘dooring’ experiences weren’t from drivers opening their doors when I was on a cycle path, but from passengers opening doors to exit from cars stopped at a traffic light as I was cycling between the parked cars and stationary cars. Any new penalty should cover holding the driver responsible if any door of their vehicle is opened in the path of a cyclist.

Isaac Gibbs

For me as a cyclists I think we should be focussing more on how we can prevent this from happening rather than what we can do to punish the person who has doored the cyclist. Although punishment comes into prevention I think their may be other ways as well. So I’m not saying punishment is a completely bad thing in preventing this from happening.

Nicholas Cotterell

I was doored on Sydney Road by a driver who sent me flying into passing traffic. I was lucky enough to be quickly rescued by nearby pedestrians who quickly got both me and my bike off the street and to safety. The driver felt that it was more important to inspect his damaged door rather than stop traffic, or check I was OK.

When I asked for his license details as my bike was badly damaged and I was concerned about my injuries he was quick to point out that he would need mine as ‘had I seen what I had done to his door and I would need to pay?’

Despite being assured by myself and several of the witnesses that he was at fault he remained adamant that he was in the right. He had no comprehension that it was entirely his fault. Days later when I contacted him with estimates for the damages to my bike and property he told me to expect a letter from his solicitor as it had cost him ~230 dollars to fix his door.

I had spoken to the police, but as I was uninjured they are unable to take a report, let alone prosecute.

Sam Graham

I would like to make my support clear for the initiative to change laws on car “dooring” incidents. A fine of between $122 – $450, without consequence to the drivers licence is far too lenient for an action that can seriously injure and hospitalise a cyclist. I identify as both a cyclist and a motorist as I am sure many cyclists do and I have been fortunate up to this point to have not caused or been injured in an incident with a car door although I have come close many times.

Andrew Costen

Having worked in a sector with a strong focus on OH&S, these near misses would be considered unacceptable and require a significant change in culture and approach. Regarding culture, most times the driver is apologetic as they just did not look, however, some drives abuse me as if I am at fault.

Neil W Taylor

I strongly believe that the current penalties for “dooring” incidents are insufficient, and fail to recognise that people can die (and have died) as a result of dooring.

Tell your friends...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on PinterestDigg thisShare on RedditShare on StumbleUpon
 Posted by at 2:12 pm
Apr 292012
 

These are extracts from other people’s submissions to the City of Melbourne Transport Strategy. Melbourne BUG’s emphases are bold italics. Our comments are in square italics.

You can read Melbourne BUG’s submission to the Transport Strategy here.

Metropolitan Transport Forum

The MTF supports [the goal to make Melbourne a true cycling city – key direction 4 of Transport Strategy] and emphasises the importance of establishing a cycling network in the city grid.

MCC sets a commendable number of transport targets and it is good to see a real intent to measure, monitor and publish data. [MCC suggests] a more ambitious target for cycle growth to 10% rather than 6% over the next 5 years. Regular counts on the main bike routes could supplement the VISTA data here.

The MTF fully supports the MCC proposals to develop a safe and connected cycle network within the city grid as long overdue, and essential if Melbourne’s cycling is to increase. The MTF agrees that lowering city speeds is fundamental to creating a safe cycling environment, and encourages the MCC to also advocate with VicRoads for better cyclist protection through intersections where cyclists are most exposed to risk. Given that 1.5 bicycles are sold for every car and the low impact of bicycle use, cycle access to the CBD should be strongly supported by bike paths and facilities throughout the city. If the MCC is serious about cycling and enhancing the take-up of bike share, general bicycle accessibility around the city area needs to be vastly improved.

While gradients of some CBD streets are less suited for cycling as are cycle paths in streets with tram tracks given risks of wheels being caught, the MTF submits that most city streets should support cycle access.

There is particular need for west-east cycle travel through the city. As all bar one of the smaller central city streets such as Little Collins, allows east west access only, the MTF suggests that the MCC consults on scope to convert Flinders Lane and Little Bourke Street to contra flow cycling. To support this, parking should be limited to one side of these streets and truck deliveries largely limited to after hours. There is also need to provide dedicated bicycle lanes to and from the Victoria Market and other key destinations.

Planning scheme changes, on-street parking, early starts for bikes at lights, new bike plan, and reducing car speeds, are all actions commended by the MTF. Many more cycle racks are needed outside CBD retail outlets, with conversion of a ratio, say 1 in (at least) 20 car parking spaces, for bicycle parking.

Regarding parking, another query is the support for paid cycle parking in cages at suburban stations; this seems at odds with free car parking at stations which occupy more space, and cost approximately $20,000 each to install.
The new bike plan is important but it seems curious that a major investment in a central city bike network is planned and scheduled for construction independently of any plan! The MTF suggests that such an important and much needed initiative be incorporated into the new bike plan which could get underway immediately. If protected bicycle lanes are to be successfully established on city streets such as Elizabeth, William, Exhibition and Latrobe, it is likely that road space will be reallocated and consultation required.

Also questioned, is the restriction on bicycle use in the Bourke Street mall. It would seem in 99ft. of road reservation, there should be room for a bicycle lane, especially as bicycle parking is provided in the centre of the mall.

Signed by Jackie Fristacky

Queen Victoria Market

Whilst the Market encourages the installation of bike parking corrals as suggested on page 49, this should not be at the expense of any available on street parking within the immediate vicinity of the Market.  [Melbourne BUG comment: this is a corporation owned by the City and its comments are quite anti-bike. Given that more people can be accommodated in a given space by bicycle parking than by car parking their prioritisation of car parking will be counter-productive for the Market and defies logic.]

Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ)

The lack of connectivity in Melbourne’s cycling network is a serious obstacle to cycling and significantly deters cyclists. The EIANZ supports the timely development of an extensive cycling network in Melbourne. Any cycling network improvements must be connected to networks in the middle and outer suburbs, as well as public transport routes. The hierarchical bicycle network developed in Bogota, Colombia could provide a good example of a well-connected, efficient case study. Cycling could be further encouraged through promotion of cycling as a transport mode, safety initiatives and increased parking facilities which prioritise bicycle parking over cars, rather than occupying footpath space.

Department of Transport Freight Logistics and Marine

[Melbourne BUG comment: Not on bicycles but good]:
o mandate provision in commercial car parks at or near ground level for short-term delivery vans and shoppers, which supports their retail land uses;
o have charges that encourage short term parking over commuter parking; and
o do not allow so-called early bird commercial car park price discounts to entice commuters to travel to and from the CBD in peak hours, exacerbating road congestion.

City of Maribyrnong

The connections to adjacent municipalities are worthy of further consideration, for example, the Maribyrnong River is a large constraint that funnels riders from Maribyrnong and further west into 2 keys routes: Dynon Road and Footscray Road. Hence there is a need for large capacity, good connectivity and priority for cyclists at intersections.

  • Address the gap in the Dynon Road route east of Moonee Ponds Creek to connect with North Melbourne.
  • Improvements for cyclists for both Shepherd Bridge ( Footscray Road ) and Hopetoun Bridge (Dynon Road ) as a first priority, followed by other connections such as Ballarat Road and the Stock Bridge crossing.

City of Moreland

Moreland supports innovative best-practice treatments but is concerned about the potential conflict of cyclists and pedestrians if contraflow cycle lanes are installed on one way streets in the CAD. [Melbourne BUG comment: No mention of the need for better connections into Moreland from the City of Melbourne]

Prof John Gibbons

Bicycles: there is currently no safe East-West route for cycles within the inner city. This could be addressed simply and quickly – please prioritise this so I don’t take my life in my hands moving East-West.

Dr Felice Jacka NHMRC

I am perpetually frustrated, however, by Spencer St and lack of accessibility of such by bike. It is almost impossible for me to ride my bike from my house in Brunswick to Southern Cross station. I have a great run down Royal Parade, which promptly ends at Grattan St. There is no good way to get from this point to the Victorian Market, nor is there any sort of biking option from this point to Southern Cross Station. I commonly catch the V=line train to and from Geelong for work. I get off at Footscray Station and ride to Brunswick. The existing bikes paths are very good for this in normal hours. However, in the evening they are isolated, unlit and dangerous. As such, I don’t feel safe riding on them (particularly along the Maribyrnong River) and thus carry on through to Southern Cross station with my bike. Once I get there, however, I am forced to ride on the footpath and weave through all sorts of circuitous paths in order to reach my home at the top of Royal Parade. Please improve biking paths along Spencer St, along Elizabeth St and, urgently, along several East-West routes in the city!

Alan Wade

please refrain from petty bans on cycling through the parks on the perimeter of the CBD. Instead, make it safe to cycle through the parks by having designated bike routes through them.

John Handley

Also, designate one carriage on trains for bike priority (not exclusivity) so that bike using train passengers can get on and off easily without getting tangled up with non-bike using passengers, who can also then choose to avoid mixing so much with bikes.
Bicycle parking cages at suburban train stations provide a cost-effective and space efficient way of providing access to trains. This could be a priority now.
Bikes.

I am not an anti-helmet laws guy, but I think this is one of the main reasons bike share has not taken off in Melbourne. Might need to review that compulsory helmet law to read strongly recommended instead. Please note, I have chatted informally to people on bike share bikes: they love them.

Copenhagen lanes. The one in Fitzroy St St. Kilda is a disaster. Really dangerous and confusing. You need to put one on both sides of the street like in Swanston, not have two way bike traffic on the one lane. Cars just cannot anticipate what is coming. That said; Solutions to assist cyclists may include allowing cyclists to travel in two directions on oneway streets, is a good idea! Straighten up the bike paths – so many have pointless curves and bends. Also many are really old, narrow and badly in disrepair. Support for developing ride/walk to school programs, and riding Ed for schools Education campaigns for Melbourne drivers regarding cyclist needs and responsibilities. Increase in cycling awareness elements in licence requirements for new drivers.

Put cycle sensitive sensors at intersections for bikes to trigger light sequences, and have bike lights getting the bikes off earlier than cars, maybe along with trams.

Rebecca Skinner

I just want to say that I support all moves to make Melbourne a leading cycling city. Any moves to remove cars from the city will improve it immensly, free up the trams and return us to being a ‘livable’ city. It would be great if City of Melbourne then worked with the surrounding councils to implement a broader ‘joined up’ cycling plan. For example, work with Yarra and Moreland to really join the cycling infrastructure from the North all the way down Rathdowne St and onto Exhibition St (which desperately needs a cycle path) and into the CBD.

David Cook

I live in East St Kilda & have worked in the city for the last 12 years. My particular interest is in bicycling strategy. I have recently begun cycling to work & use St Kilda Road from St Kilda junction to the city. I prefer to cycle because the trains are unreliable & overcrowded & its a good way to stay fit. In the past I cycled from Brunswick to the city. My main message is the routes into the city are still dangerous & I think most cyclists know its probably only a matter of time before they are involved in an accident. I appreciate the city centre strategy for cycling – but question whether this is the most effective use of funds on a returns basis. My view is the biggest opportunity to increase cycling is by encouraging commuting to & from the city from suburbs up to 10kms. This is where the demand is because driving & public transport are & will continue to be less attractive. To achieve this there need to be truly safe major cycling routes into the city. The St Kilda Road improvements are a great step forward – but the lanes will quickly become overcrowded & the reality is that cyclists are still in danger every day of hitting a car door opened in fromt of them, or being hit by a careles driver. Until these major routes are safer, the commuting demographic will remain limited to mostly young males.

Mark Burton

1. Lower speed limits in CBD to a maximum of 30km/h.
2. Better links are required from commuter routes from city fringe to CBD core. Canning Street just ends with no connection to CBD (esp. when heading northbound).
3. Lack of cycle lanes in CBD (and those that are there are very narrow (eg Bourke St).
4. Stop use of glass in drinks bottling or ensure that bike lanes are swept every early morning. Smashed stubbies always end up in bike lanes!
5. Further reduction in volumes of private motor vehicles on city streets as ‘road diets’ reduce space available and reallocate to public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.
6. The bicycle network should be protected, even as surrounding sites are redeveloped. At present the northbound bicycle lane disappears on Rathdowne Street north of the Queensberry Street intersection due to the redevelopment of an adjacent site, putting cyclists in a vulnerable position.

Tim Bracher, Executive Officer, Yarra River Business Association

Bicycle flows on Southbank
We are glad that this issues has been raised in the report. The number and speed of cycle traffic on the Southbank Promenade is a serious accident waiting to happen. The new Northbank Cycle Trail will ease problems, but the mix of pedestrians and cyclists on Southbank will remain an issue until an  alternative route is found, or a no-cycle rule is strictly enforced.
Traffic light sequencing
The report has touched on the very pedestrian-unfriendly timing of traffic lights in some areas of the CBD. The Queensbridge Street intersection with Southbank Promenade is an excellent example. The extraordinarily long time provided to vehicles means that pedestrians are undertaking some very risky activity in crossing the street against the lights.  [Melbourne BUG: This is also a very bad intersection for bikes]

Carlton Residents Association (CRA)

In Carlton, the conversion of two car spaces to bike parking at Lygon Court, earlier proposed by CRA, has proved very popular, although initially opposed by traders. Similar facilities would be welcome elsewhere in Carlton.
Bike hire facilities are welcome; however these facilities attract minimal patronage, seemingly due to bike helmet laws.

Lesley Smith

FANTASTIC transport strategy! Cant wait to be cruising through the city on my bike, without having to attend a confessional beforehand! Well done CoM!

Dr. Simon Batterbury

I do have expertise in bicycle planning, honed mainly in London and Copenhagen – see my website below for publications. The sentiments in your chapter are great – but can this be translated into amendments to the road infrastructure?

The lessons from Copenhagen is that high service lanes are fine, but that these should not divert onto side roads and roundabout routes and MUST provide continuous travel (ie, no long waits at traffic lights or crossing points). This latter point has not yet been achieved in the city, although Yarra have begun to install some cycle-activated traffic lights in Fitzroy. You hardly mention the question of delays in your chapter. The current network has long delays at traffic lights and crossing points, which is frustrating and encourages illegal actions.

The key point for daily commuters like me is that high volume cycling, as occurs in Copenhagen and Frederiksberg (where I used to live) relies on the ‘carrot’ of better infrastructure. Mayor Boris Johnson in London (where I am now) is installing radial cycle commuter routes, much as you are suggesting in your document. These blue-coloured routes have had major public consultation which has honed their purpose and precise route.

One specific comment refers to the Canning Street route entering the city from the north. As you realise, inner north residents are high bicycle users, whether commuters, students, or for other uses. A really major opportunity exists and it MUST BE ADDRESSED. This is the appalling delay just where Canning Street meets Alexandra Parade/ Princes St, North Carlton VIC 3053.
The issue is discussed extensively at http://crapcyclelanesofmelbourne.blogspot.com/2010/06/canning-street-and-alexandra-parade.html (I paraphrase)

The problem: The route is probably one of the busiest cycling routes in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne. Your graph on p43 just give morning peak usage, but around 2500 cyclists pass your counter per day. The city centre is to the south, and lots of people live to the north. There are no easy spots to cross Alexandra Parade/Princes St- it is a jammed, six lane inner city road that joins Melbourne from East to West. We desperately need north-south bike access that does not involve long waiting times and dangerous crossings. This means continuous cycling, i.e. underpasses and favourable through routes. Canning Street runs north south and has long been a designated, pleasant cycle lane. In the morning you will see volumes of cyclists on it that are almost Copenhagen-like. It is designated an IMAP Priority Route because it “already has high bicycle usage”. The delight ceases when, travelling south or north, you get to the intersection with Princes Street. You are faced with a pelican crossing for bikes and peds – across three eastbound lanes, with a narrow central reserve just wide enough to take a bike, and then three more lanes.

The problem is that the timing of the crossing in rush hour is completely biased toward the E-W highway traffic. Tens, sometimes up to a hundred, n-s bound cyclists sit there like morons waiting for the lights to change, breathing in fumes. It feels like a two minute wait, sometimes more. In the evening, the flow is reversed. In addition, Primary school students and parents crossing north clash with cyclists going south, prior to 9am. This is affecting thousands of people every day, and being stranded on the tiny central island is pretty unsafe if that happens. The only action taken by Vic Roads has been to synchronise the traffic lights with Elgin Street to the south, but not to increase the timings of north-south priority.

Solutions: The Canning/Princes St junction is badly planned, neglected by transport planners, and needs an underpass, zebra crossing, or cycle priority. The obvious solution is an underpass. This is clearly what is needed, as any bike planner from Denmark or the Netherlands would make clear. Us cyclists are frustrated by the inaction, which may be because Yarra Council, City of Melbourne and VicRoads will all have to be involved. Already, the Yarra Bicycle Strategy 2010-2015 mentions $20k allocated to “upgrade” the crossing, do linemarkings, etc. on the north side, but no action by yourselves, Melbourne City Council or VicRoads, is mentioned in your Draft Transport Plan. If we don’t get an underpass, then we at least need the timing of the crossing to be more favourable to n-s traffic and more space on the S side to beat the clash of peds/bikes in the morning. Making the e-w traffic wait a bit more, which means changing priories on all the close-by traffic lights, will send a message to motorists and avoid jaywalking (or jaycycling) which is almost unavoidable at this immensely frustrating location.

 

Jeannette Harrison

I wholly support the pedestrianisation, but I’m extremely concerned about the shared bike/walk ways. In theory, these should work, however when cyclists treat these bike paths as racing tracks it becomes very dangerous for families and children using the pathways. Young children learn that roads are not for walking and playing on, but when there is a “walk way” it should be exactly that!! A pathway for walking, running etc not for bikes! it should be possible to create a separate lane that is easily distinguishable for cyclists, and have the remainder of the path clearly marked as a walkway, to enable children to access these pedestrian ways as well. As a current member of the City of Melbourne Family & Children’s Advisory Committee I will be expressing these concerns to the Committee also.

Faith Hunter

There needs to be much better and safer bicycle lanes in the city itself. I ride from Brunswick to St Kilda but always end up walking part of the way through the city as it just doesn’t feel safe. Most people I know won’t make North-South trips for this very reason. St Kilda bike lanes are very unsafe with all the driveways to office buildings and busy traffic, a Copenhagen lane the length of St Kilda road would make a huge difference. As it is I take the extra time and go via Port Melbourne. From Brunswick I regularly ride to the city for errands and appointments but leave my bike at the top and tram it in. If I could safely ride into the city and park my bike I’d ride more often.

Stephen Miller

I would also like to congratulate the City and Lord Mayor Robert Doyle for the decision on the upgrade to Swanston Street. The proposed solution is excellent and is a design for a modern, liveable city with its emphasis on people rather than cars. The decision is even more commendable given the change from the Lord Mayor’s initial position.

Craig Lambie

There was a significant lack of Bicycle connections in the West End of the city. Spencer St is an ideal cycling street as it is a very low incline and connects the North and South of the city very well, away from the busy congested King St. At least connecting Cecil st bike path with the docklands without to much diverting around the buildings would be ideal for cyclist getting from say Footscray to South / Port Melbourne.

Reducing speed limits in the city to 20 to 30km per hour on most streets would increase pedestrian and cyclist safety, therefore increasing their usage and % of trips.

Signal timing pedestrian and cycle – The signals in the city are currently timed terribly. As a cyclist riding from West to East, you have to stop at every light. This could be changed to ensure cycle speed is the ideal travel speed in the city, with Pedestrian timing also. – When traffic lights go Yellow, there is not enough time for a cyclist to get through – if the cyclist is within the first 2m from the white line, most often you will not make it across the intersection, often having to dodge pedestrians when they get their green man. This is dangerous, the cyclist is well within rights to be crossing the intersection as it only turned yellow after passing the white line.

Adding bicycle lamps at every intersection that allow cyclists to go when a Tram gets it’s priority start. ie Green Bike along with Tram, then Turning Traffic, then Pedestrians and through traffic

– Adding bicycle priority – like at Cecil St and City Rd corner – this is a beautiful thing along

Lane way two way cycles: The lane ways need to have a bi – directional option for cyclists to ensure it is legal to ride up the lanes. This is commonly done already, but increasing the safety by making it legal would be helpful, and reduce frustration of cyclists trying to find the best route in the one way streets.

Reducing on street parking in the city to allow for cycle paths and wider foot paths will increase the cost of driving to the city, along with other measures to increase the overall well being of residents. Walkers and cyclists spend more money at shops, parking space is dead space.

Carol Ryan

As part of the strategy it will be necessary to restrict the use of cars in the city as city streets cannot safely and efficiently support all these uses; road space allocation has to be re-designed. This can be achieved, in part, by reducing the flow of through motor vehicle traffic.

Two of the highest priority routes for planning and construction are Exhibition Street (part of the Hoddle Grid) and Rathdowne Street. To achieve this it will be necessary to reduce the number of cars using these streets. These goals can be achieved by reducing motor vehicle traffic on feeder streets such as Rathdowne Street in Inner Melbourne. If Rathdowne Street, Carlton (like Rathdowne Street, Carlton North) was restricted to one lane of traffic running north and south, this would also help address the problems of congestion and noise and air pollution which are having an adverse effect on residential amenity.

Rathdowne Street, Carlton is largely residential but, unlike Rathdowne Street, Carlton North, has four lanes of traffic. In keeping with a policy of restricting cars in the city and encouraging the use of public transport, pedestrian and bicycle traffic in the central city, it seems appropriate at this time to widen the central plantation and create one lane of traffic each way (which would provide a proper link with the northern end of the street). As well, the present bike paths between Princess and Victoria Streets could be improved with a wider boundary between riders and motorists. This would encourage more users and make them safer by keeping riders more separated from traffic which would also be lighter in volume. Reducing the speed limit on that stretch of road would also be beneficial. This would then encourage riders to use the new planned bicycle paths on Exhibition Street.

Reducing the number of lanes on Rathdowne Street between Princess and Victoria Streets would help address the problems of congestion, road trauma, urban pollution and greenhouse emissions and inefficient use of valuable space in the city. Rathdowne Street, Carlton is also home to the Exhibition Building, the Museum and Imax which are all a pleasant walk from the central city. By widening the present bicycle paths to make them more physically separated from traffic, increasing green space and lowering speeds this improved streetscape would provide another high quality connection between these activity centres and the city centre. An improved streetscape with wider central plantations and more space for bicycle riders and pedestrians, would be a fitting setting for the Exhibition Building, a world heritage listed building. It would also provide a more pleasant link with the very popular Rathdowne Street Village in North Carlton.

Rathdowne Street, Carlton North is a very pleasant thoroughfare with its central wide plantation of trees and grass creating much needed open spaces and a local sense of community in the densely populated areas close to the city. In Rathdowne Street, Carlton, which is mostly residential, traffic is congested at peak hours and, at other times, speeds along the Carlton end of Rathdowne Street creating both noise and air pollution as well as potential dangers for the many families who live on that street. As reported in The Age (June 2), providing more roads has “negative impacts” according to the auditor general who described it as “induced demand” which, he said, should be factored into all future road decisions. If we want to encourage the use of public transport particularly so close to the city, for example, closing Swanston Street to cars and creating bicycle paths on other city streets such as Exhibition Street, then we should discourage motorists from using Rathdowne Street to enter or travel through the city.

Britta Klingspohn

The most important issue for the cycling strategy is the continuity of cycle paths, on the shortest possible route. Otherwise cyclists will find and use less optimal routes, possibly interfering with other road users. Specified cycling routes through Carlton Gardens are an excellent solution.

Stephen Alomes

A 40 kmh area speed limit is as important for Kensington as it is for the CBD. An Ideal Suburb to Become a Walking, Cycling Environment Proposal: That all of Kensington should become a 40 kmh maximum speed limit  suburb.
1. A major increase in safety for cyclists and pedestrians. The evidence is clear that slower speeds minimise the extent of injury when a cyclist or pedestrian is impacted on by a car. Slower speeds also increase time for children and older residents in particular and drivers to perceive the danger of a possible collision. (Monash Accident Research Centre: The Impact of Lowered Speed Limits in Metropolitan Areas, Archer J et al, Clayton, 2008)

Steve Doyle

May I simply ask that much more be done to support bike riders safety in riding on streets & roads. I believe the current road infrastructure treats bike riders as very much the poor cousins in comparison to trams, trucks & cars. To be specific, bike lane markings are very inconsistently applied & when they are there, these are often parts of the road in poor condition.

Tram stops have been enlarged in recent times & simply created bottle necks for bikes & cars to compete in. Guess who often wins. There also been a lot of emphasis on expanding footpaths & landscaped gardening (eg Southbank), once again at the expense of space necessary for safe bike riding lanes. Having said all this, there has been far too much money been spent laying massive amounts of concrete to create partitioned off bike lanes. This is environmentally unfriendly in the use of concrete & no doubt drains resources for engineering a quantity of bike lanes rather than a few of very high quality.

Bike riders should be able to ride along all the streets of the CBD & the roads that fed in without being in constant danger. If you doubt the scale of the problem, try riding a bike around yourself & see how safe you feel. It’s that straight forward really.

Alan Todd

Town Planner and former cyclist
My area of interest is utility cycling, that is cycling not for its own sake but as a means of getting somewhere. I note with interest that a key plank of the strategy is to make Melbourne a “cycling city”. Whilst this is an admirable aim, I hope I will be excused for finding it somewhat ludicrous, both in comparison to the genuine cycling cities of the world, and relative to the entrenched anti cycling attitudes, laws and practices of this country.
As I write this, police in Melbourne are undertaking a “crackdown” on cyclists at four key entrance points to the city. The ostensible reason for this is an identified increase in the number of cyclists suffering “car door” accidents. These accidents are largely as a result of poorly designed cycling lanes, which put cyclists in direct danger from parked vehicle occupants opening their doors.

The solution is design change. However Melbourne’s solution is to target cyclists and fine them $149 for not wearing a helmet . A staggering 90% of all fines issued to cyclists in Victoria are for failure to wear a helmet, and at 2% of all traffic infringements issued to all road users, this represents a massively oppressive discouragement to cycling. When Australia became the first country in the world to ban cycling by unhelmeted cyclists there was an immediate and profound change to cycling in this country. Adolescents abandoned cycling almost entirely, and adult cycling declined by 30% to 40%. In the intervening twenty years there has been some growth in recreational cycling (which is of benefit to an individuals health) but complete stagnation in utility cycling – the sort that replaces car trips and benefits everybody’s health and quality of life. Despite the “cycling is booming” propaganda from the crew at Bicycle Victoria, the ABS figures tell a somewhat different tale, with commuter cycling (the best available comparator for utility cycling) at 2006 still representing a lower percentage of modal share than pre mandation of helmets in 1986. This despite all the ride2work and ride2school exhortational nonsense. These programmes simply do not work to produce lasting behaviour change. A genuine cycling culture, such as is required if Melbourne is to become a cycling city, cannot co-exist with compulsory helmets. Quite simply, a cycling culture requires cycling to be normal, safe and convenient. Requiring people to wear helmets, and policing this to excess, will never allow this to happen. The “cyclist” is set apart as odd (who else would wear a polystyrene helmet? not the normal people on foot or in cars). The helmet does not make cycling safe – Australia doesn’t score particularly well on that point – and adds to the perception that it is a dangerous activity, further discouraging normal people from riding. The helmet is manifestly inconvenient. Australia, New Zealand, British Columbia and a couple of minor Canadian provinces are the only places in the world that require adults to wear helmets. They do not enjoy significant levels of bicycle use, or high levels of safety. On the contrary, successful cycling cultures exist in the places where even children are expected to ride safely without protective gear – Holland, Denmark, Germany, Spain and others. The models of successful “cycling cities” are there – none of them punish and persecute cyclists, all of them have an expectation that citizens can ride bicycles safely in normal clothes, with no special protection. Why wouldn’t we learn from them? Finally, its worth looking at bike share. Such schemes have become both a “badge” of cultivated city transport planning, and a tool to get more people on bikes as a means of getting around cities. They work both by being convenient in themselves, and by the flow on effect of getting people to move on to more regular bike use on their own bikes – that is people who may have never before really considered the bike as a transport option. The schemes have been very successful in over 160 cities world-wide. There are however two standout failures, and these are in Melbourne and Brisbane. The message is clear. If you want Melbourne to be a cycling city, ditch the compulsory helmets. Until this happens, cycling in Melbourne will remain the preserve of the mostly male one percenters, and will never achieve widespread adoption as a means of transport.

Disability Advisory Committee

Albert Street bike lane is not a suitable design; it does not adequately convey to car passengers that they are stepping into a bike lane from the kerb side of their vehicle. Suggest taking a look at how these are designed in Copenhagen with an actual kerb and not just paint.

Tell your friends...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on PinterestDigg thisShare on RedditShare on StumbleUpon
 Posted by at 3:06 pm