This weeks installment, Western-plains riders, describes the route from Melbourne's inner-western suburbs, Yarraville, Seddon or Newport. A nice innocuous title compared to the previous attempt's "Danger in a round-a-bout way".
After reading this story, I'm left wondering why anyone would put their life at risk by choosing to ride this route.
|...a daunting black spot where cyclists must dodge and weave across Docklands Highway|
....a colourful but confusing jaunt through Docklands, to the city street of your choice
...recently saw a cyclist get knocked down from behind there
...people park their cars in the declared clearways, forcing riders to leave the bike lane and jostle for space with other vehicles
...In low light, the bike path is almost indistinguishable from objects that cyclists could run into
...The bridge itself is not particularly safe
...path surface and the lamp posts, which are a non-visible shade of grey
...muddled cycling commuter route between the bridge and Footscray Road
...The area has attracted criticism from cyclists because of its confusing routes
...VicRoads statistics show that 40 cyclists were killed and 1636 were seriously injured in crashes in the fi ve years from 2000 to 2004
...how many cyclists have been injured by rock-throwing pedestrians, a rumoured danger in the Docklands precinct
If the purpose of this series of stories is to put people off using Melbourne's cycling infrastructure, or to reinforce the idea that cycling is dangerous, then it's working, I'm convinced. I don't think I'll be riding in Melbourne any time soon if I have to deal with rock-throwing pedestrians, invisible lamp posts, and confusing routes.
There are elements in the story that lead me to think that the purpose of these stories is to highlight the need to upgrade the facilities rather than to deter potential cycle commuters from getting on their bikes. Buried in the middle of the story you will find this comment
|Paths such as the Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail were built for recreational cyclists rather than commuters.|
..."Those paths are symbolic of the early stuff but they're not up to the job now," Barber says. "Version one is no longer working. (Between Williamstown and Spotswood) there are bike lanes on the road, and in areas where there's a decent bike lane and an inadequate path, people often choose the road."
And I think he's right. In general, off-road bike paths in particular have been designed and built with recreational cyclists in mind and are not really suitable for commuters.
There is also some confusion about how long the 6km commute will take.
|On a good day the commute takes about 10 minutes by road and travel time is only a few minutes more by public transport. For this reason, cycling gets a regular mention in real estate write-ups.|
At an average speed of about 36km/h I hardly think this 10 minutes relates to the cycling commuters, especially given the route described, so they must be talking about driving your car to work.
|Most riders take about half an hour to get to the city, which is about the same as people allocate for a commute into the city by train, tram or car.|
So now bikes are travelling at an average speed of 12km/h. What happened to the 10 minute car(?) trip .... 20 minutes to park?
And just in case you, as a motorist, may have been thinking that maybe, just maybe, cyclists might need a few improvements to infrastructure in order to get them out of your way, along comes this gem,
|on any weekday morning many cyclists can be seen breaking several road rules, such as cycling across pedestrian crossings or cutting across street corners, whether by choice or mistake|
I can just hear motorists reading this and thinking, "Well damn it, why should I, a law-abiding tax-paying motorist pay for these unruly cyclists to have better paths in order to encourage more of them to break the road rules and endanger pedestrians!"
The concept of running a series of articles on cycling blackspots would work well if there was already a critical mass of cyclists commuting, say somewhere around 20% of commuting journeys, and if there was sympathy within the non-cycling popoulation for the plight of cyclists. I can't see that either of these stages has been reached, so these supposedly well-intentioned articles are really doing more harm than good in my humble opinion.