BISAs mission: To promote cycling for transport and to represent all cyclists at the local, state, and national levels by working collaboratively with other interest groups and governments.
- Pedal Update
- Presidents Report
- Land Use and Transport Policy Directions
- Living Neighbourhoods: sustainable transport in AdelaidePart 2
(This item was published in full in the previous Web edition of Pedal Update)
Peter Carter, Editor
Another 16 page issue, dominated this time by Terrys submission on the review of the Cycling Strategynot even enough room for any pictures. Its as good a statement of the rational for city cycling as youll find.
We also have the second part of the Living Neighbourhoods article held over from the previous issue, together with some thoughts on amalgamation from Hans Penning.
In April next year Australian Cyclist will probably change its schedule, with that issue covering May and June as well. From then on the editions will be July֪August and so on. Presumerably Pedal Update will follow.
If you havent already, note Sunday 12 November in your calendar as Velofest, the annual Celbration of Cycling. This year its one day only, not a whole week, which is causing problems for Ride to Work Day, but it includes the Circle the city for Asthma ride, street and cross country racing, BMX events, Pedal Prix sprint... More details later.
In starting this Presidents report, I am reminded of the opening line of Charles Dickens classic, A Tale of Two Cities: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. First to the worst of times.
I had set aside three days to finalise some arrangements on behalf of BISA, mentioned in my previous report, prior to commencing an interstate holiday. Leaving things to the last moment is usually unwise, confirmed in this case by an unexpected bereavement and a serious health scare within my family. If ever you feel frustrated that BISA does not achieve more (and we achieve plenty) remember always that BISA quite properly comes third behind family responsibilities and employment for the volunteers who run it.
I have had to defer the initial meeting of the Sustainable Transport Association, planning for which was well under way for early October. However, I am confident I will be able to report on its success in the next Pedal Update.
Progress with discussions regarding amalgamation has been slow. We have met only once with Bicycle SA, due to the difficulty in finding a time when we are all together. Setting a meeting time for a group of six people who include a politician, a self-employed professional from the country and a shift worker has proved problematic. I am hopeful that I am going to be able to report on more progress next time.
I am sure that Darren Myk and his team share my frustration with the lack of correlation between effort and results. Despite much hard work organising Ride To Work Day, they find themselves in the situation of long committed funds suddenly being re-directed to another (cycling related) program. Accordingly, we are unable to provide you with details of this event at this stage. We are still hopeful of running the event, but will have to inform you using a different medium.
This is a good time to promote the use of electronic means of communication. Clive Palfrey occasionally forwards on information between Pedal Updates to his e-mail list of BISA members. If you have an e-mail address, and dont receive the occasional message from Clive, drop him a line at <email@example.com> and request to be added to the list. Information will also be added to the BISA Web site.
One thing that I did manage to complete on time was submitting BISAs initial contribution to the review of the State Cycling Strategy. Work on this strategy should be close to complete by the end of this year, and BISA will have opportunity for further input to the review.
Now, on to the best of times. I have just returned from one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, the Sydney Olympic Games. While the sporting action was moving, so was the public transport! Having had our holiday cut short, we decided to fly. Despite the short notice, we easily obtained discount fares at the times we wanted. A bit of research on the Web soon indicated that it was entirely feasible to rely completely on trains to get around in Sydney.
After picking up our luggage off the carousel at Sydney Airport, we descended to the train station deep below the terminal. A train immediately arrived, depositing us within 10 minutes at Sydney Central. Within another 10 minutes we had found our platform and were seated on another train to Richmond. With one exception, interconnections between trains were well timed (or very lucky). And you can hardly complain about a twenty minute wait when one train runs every five minutes, the other every 30 minutes. Admittedly, this was a special Olympics timetable, but it demonstrated what could be achieved with a fast and frequent service.
Bicycles travel free off-peak on City Rail, and for childs fare at other times. Each station I visited also had well-maintained bicycle lockers. I did note however that the few times that I ventured on the roads that bicycle lanes are very scarce. No wonder Critical Mass is so popular in Sydney. A criticism I have of Sydneys public transport is the complexity of the ticketing which takes in three modes of public transport, trains, buses and ferries. Adelaides ticketing system, and our prices, compare very favourably.
Now, to the Games themselves. To be so far from a private motor vehicle in the midst of a city, with more than 150000 people in close proximity at Homebush Olympic Park, was stupendous. My first sight of the interior of Stadium Australia, from high up in the stands, will live with me forever. As will the roar of the crowd when the East Timorese marathoner, nearly an hour adrift of the winner, entered the stadium, 100 000 people expressing their joy in her freedom and their sorrow for her lands suffering, people with tears streaming down their faces. And on another night, 112 524 people honouring an indigenous athlete so loudly and for so long, that I regained hope in the reconciliation process.
Those same people, honouring one of our newer Australians, as she won silver in the pole vault, with a personal best mark. The lack of parochialism as they applauded an American athlete as she struggled, successfully, to pass Tatiana Grigorievas height. Capped off by the greatest and most tactical race I could ever hope to see, the mens 10 000 metres. Leaving the stadium for my third and final time, I felt a sense of loss more profound than I could ever have imagined.
And the cycling? For those of you enjoy cycling as sport, I hope that the Olympics provided you with many memorable moments. But for me, the bicycle is a vehicle, and a vehicle is for transport. Im embarrassed to admit that I didnt apply for a single event. Some cycling advocate!
Land Use and Transport Policy Directions
Marginalisation of cycling as a transport issue
While the Bicycle Institute strongly supports the Cycling Strategy and the review, it is clear that cycling is still a side issue for the majority of Transport SA and Local Government road engineers. We need a general transport policy that recognises that our current transport system is unsustainable, and that we need a modal shift away from cars and toward public transport, cycling and walking.
Cyclists are catered for only after the needs of motorists. We still find thatwhen push comes to shovecongestion on roads is often solved by reducing space for cyclists. At virtually every controlled intersection in Adelaide, cycling space disappears, due to the inclusion of turning lanes, or even through lanes.
This is not a case of the infrastructure being dated, as this process is still continuing. A recent example is the upgrade of the North TerraceFrome Road intersection in the city. A wide kerb-side lane has now disappeared. This is particularly disheartening given Frome Roads importance of connecting the River Torrens Linear Park to the city centre.
A shift to public transport is a necessary part of seeing a shift to cycling, so that our roads become a better environment for cycling, and to enable people to travel car-free over longer distances. The importance of encouraging a modal shift in our transport needs cannot be overstated. We are in danger of becoming international pariahs for our greenhouse gas emissions. We are also seeing oil prices at close to record high prices, with forecasts of these doubling in the near future. The impact of such a price hike on inflation, the current account and overseas debt will have a dramatic effect on our economy.
Our rapidly aging population is both living longer but more in need of treatment for lifestyle related diseases. While medical treatment is becoming more effective it is becoming more expensive. Dire warning are being made about the unsustainablity of the cost of our medical system, particularly the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Moderate exercise (3km of walking or 8km of cycling per day) by the majority of our population who are sedentary would have a dramatic effect in reducing our ballooning medical costs. Getting people to exercise because they should is very difficult. We need to design our transport system so that exercise becomes incidental to our daily life. We have to see a modal shift toward public transport and cycling to achieve this.
We need to see cycling become central to the design of our roads, particularly at intersections where the conflicts occur, and at the same time invest in our public transport system. While some of these problems may not hit home within the life of the present parliament, or even the following one, they are inevitable unless we start changing our transport system now. Solving the problems will also take a long time, and require significant initial investment. Given the scarce funds, we need to bite the bullet and reduce our spending on the provision of increased capacity for motor vehicles.
Encouragement of urban sprawl
On the one hand we are seeing an increase in population density occurring in the inner suburbs and city centre. However, Adelaide is continuing to sprawl at the North and South. There are also forecasts of an increase in population in the Adelaide Hills following the upgrade to the Mount Barker Road. As well as the massive cost of this project we are also seeing major investment in the Southern Expressway. Reducing travel time by 10 minutes encourages people to move 10 minutes further out, causing additional environmental problems. Yet we see no plans to significantly upgrade the woeful public transport infrastructure in the Adelaide Hills, and we are only now starting to hear of discussion of an upgrade to public transport to the South.
Having public transport infrastructure lag significantly behind urban development is problematic as transport habits become ingrained. Further development at the periphery should be curtailed until solutions to the transport problems are implemented. This means more than the extension of an already long and slow bus route, but the introduction of fast interconnections and good urban design where more people live, work and play within a smaller area.
Freight: Rail versus Road
The congestion on our roads is exacerbated by the presence of long-haul articulated vehicles on our arterial roads. These diesel-powered vehicles have particularly dirty and unhealthy exhausts, contribute greatly to noise pollution and have twice the greenhouse gas emissions of rail. Heavy trucks also have a disproportionate effect on the degradation of the road pavement. They are over-represented in fatal accidents. There is strong evidence of unbridled competition leading to lower wage rates for drivers, which in turn leads to widespread illegal working hours and amphetamine abuse, with consequences for the rest of society. Their presence on arterial roads is incompatible with the presence of cyclists.
Yet despite these serious and well-documented problems, state and federal government policy continues to implement policy to encourage interstate road freight. The Mount Barker Road upgrade was part of a strategy to upgrade the National Highway System to allow heavier trucks on our roads. Similarly the Portrush Road upgrade is also to facilitate heavy transport. The Britannia roundabout upgrade is proceeding largely because of the political necessity to share the pain of the increased truck traffic across the Eastern suburbs. It is clear that the Adelaide Better Roads program is largely about better roads for trucks. We are continually seeing an extension of the roads that multi-trailer vehicles are allowed to travel.
While government reforms to rail resulted in a reduction in the recurrent costs of freight in that sector, fixed costs remain high. Unbridled competition in the road industry, with devastating social and safety outcomes, means that rail cannot compete effectively. The removal of structural subsidies to the road freight industry could see rail provide cheaper, safer and more sustainable freight services. The reduction in heavy vehicles on our roads would provide a better environment for cycling and provide more space and funds for cycling infrastructure.
Social and Economic Incentives to Cycle
Disincentives to use motor vehicles
Discouraging the use of motor vehicles both encourages individuals to change modes which then improves the situation for cyclists. The following suggestions, while not directly related to cycling, are relevant to the development of a strategy to encourage cycling.
Fringe Benefits Tax
We currently have a fringe benefits regime that encourages the use of salary packaging that reduces the overall cost of motoring, at the expense of government revenue. Given the social costs of motoring, this subsidy to the motor industry is unjustified.
Altering road taxes to encourage reduced motoring
While the costs of motoring are high, most costs are fixed, such as purchase price, emergency services levy and registration and compulsory third party insurance. Currently about $500 per year is paid by a motorist in compulsory government charges, whether they travel 5000km or 50000km per year. A move to recouping these costs at the bowser might help reduce demand. It is recognised that given the constitutional constraints that such an initiative would need a national response with the support of all states.
Proliferation of four wheel drives
These vehicles are particularly unsuited to our urban environment. They are wider than conventional cars, built like a truck, but often driven by people with no experience in truck driving. They are often used for shopping and taking children to school. Such large vehicles with significant blind spots are unsuited to shopping car parks and school environs. They are built on a truck-like chassis with limited crumple zones such that they are dangerous in single vehicle collisions, and their greater mass result in a transfer of risk to other road users. They are particularly lethal to pedestrians and cyclists. Given the high cost of such vehicles this results in a transfer of risk from the more wealthy to the less wealthy.
They are often powered by diesel engines, which have particularly toxic emissions, and their greater mass mean a larger amount of emissions per kilometre. They are all imported and compete in the market place with larger sedans and wagons that are predominantly Australian made. Yet despite all these problems there appears to be no government policy to limit the penetration of these vehicles in the market place. A review is needed to identify strategies to discourage the use of these vehicles in urban environments. Strategies such as higher registration for these vehicles in urban areas are required.
Availability of commuter bicycles
Someone new to cycling is faced with a bewildering array of choices when entering a bicycle shop. They need to decide if a mountain bike, hybrid or road bike suits their needs. Then they need to decide on accessories such as lighting, racks and mudguards. Often they wont realise the need to later, and then find them difficult to fit. For example, many rear lamps are designed to fit near the top of the seat stay or on the seat post, where they are obscured by loads carried on racks. Fitting mudguards to road bikes is often difficult due to tight clearances.
Manufacturers do offer fully optioned commuter bicycles, complete with chain guards, racks, lights and mudguards. However, it appears that importers are reluctant to import them as there is not the demand for economic quantities. The lack of a market could well be due to the fact that the product is unknown. While part of the solution to the problem lies with advocacy and industry groups, there may be a role for government in encouraging their importation. A trial in WA resulted in the provision of 100 bicycles to people to encourage them to commute by bicycle. Any trial in SA could involve the provision of commuter bicycles. Also, some government departments are providing pool bicycles, and these purpose built commuters would be ideal.
End of trip provision for cyclists
We need to design end of trip facilities depending on the nature of the trip. The needs of someone commuting to an office job are quite different to someone travelling to the local shopping centre.
Cycling to work
Cyclists need secure, sheltered bike parking, locker space and shower facilities. Some employers with modern, purpose built facilities have provided these three facilities. Two examples are Telstra and the Australian Taxation Office. In both cases excellent facilities were provided to easily meet the existing demand, yet patronage increased rapidly to the extent that waiting lists were developed for lockers. Our universities and the Royal Adelaide Hospital are other examples of bicycle facilities being very well patronised.
Council building regulations usually require on-site car parking for new commercial buildings, but bicycle facilities are not mandated. We need government regulations to require all new developments above a certain size to provide for bicycle facilities including the three components mentioned above.
If regulation is not achieved, then a strategy needs to be developed to educate the designers of buildings on the benefits to the occupiers of these facilities.
However, the bigger task is to provide cycling facilities at existing premises. While regulation to require certain facilities could be problematic due to the cost of alterations involved, requiring the property owners of large premises (over 100 people accommodated?) to develop plans to accommodate bicycles could be effective. Often a low cost solution is possible; the problem is overcoming management inertia.
If regulation is not possible, then a strategy needs to be developed to encourage building managers to provide basic cycling facilities.
Cycling to shops
The current situation at most major suburban shopping centres is abysmal in relation to cycling facilities. Leaning rails are almost non-existent, toaster racks rare. Rails need to be placed close to entrances to enhance passive security from passers-by. Some lockers are required to provide good security for high value bicycles. Video surveillance of cycling parking would also be beneficial. Roadways within shopping centres need to be improved to provide safe access by bicycles to the parking areas. The current situation in most car parks discourages pedestrian and cycling activity.
These are the needs, but how to convince the property managers to provide these facilities? If regulation is not possible, then a strategy needs to be developed to encourage centre managers to provide cycling facilities.
Enforcement of legislation for all road users
Providing justice to the victims
The legal process resulting from the death of a cyclist was completed recently. A cyclist was overtaken by a B-double on a highway. The driver provided insufficient clearance and turbulence forced the cyclist against the side of a trailer wheel. There was no suggestion that the driver did not see the cyclist, and the cyclist was not found to have contributed to the cause of the accident. While the cyclist was not wearing a helmet, the wearing of one would not have altered the fatal outcome, due to severe abdominal injuries. The driver was charged with driving with undue care, fined $250 and did not receive a suspension of license or even any demerit points.
When one compares this with driving under the influence of alcohol, this seems very mild. Drink driving is a serious offence because it may result in the death of other road users, and deserves the severe penalties imposed. But how then can we not impose severe penalties when someone actually does cause the death of another road user? The advice received in this instance was that causing death by driving with undue care does not constitute the crime of causing death by dangerous driving. Common sense suggests that driving with undue care is dangerous, but the legal interpretation is that you must be breaking the law in some specific way, such as drink driving or grossly exceeding the speed limit.
We are not suggesting that making a tragic mistake on the roads should automatically result in a custodial sentence. But there must be some proportion in the penalty. Given the cost involved in operating a heavy vehicle, a $250 fine is purely a token punishment.
Enforcement of Speed Limits
The SA Government and SAPOL seek to enforce speed limits in order to create a safer society. BISA rejects the idea that the Government through SAPOL is primarily interested in revenue raising. The evidence about death and road speed is unequivocal.
Tolerances applied before enforcing speed limits are too large. We now have de facto speed limits about 10km/h above the actual limit, with grave (pun unintended but apt) consequences for community safety. For example, occupants travelling in a car travelling at 70km/h have twice the risk of involvement in a casualty crash to those in a car travelling at 65km/h (Road Accident Research Unit, 1998).
The technology is now so accurate that there is no practical need for such a large tolerance interval. BISA believes that the current tolerances should be reduced to no more than 5km/h. However, to ensure community support for more rigorous policing, expiation fees for offences below the current tolerances could be set at a level akin to parking fines. Such an approach would ensure cost recovery and maximise community safety by reducing average speeds.
Linking Cycling More Effectively to Public Transport
There have been some promising initiatives with free off-peak transport of bicycles on trains and improved facilities at train stations and interchanges. We need to ensure that the facilities are improved and expanded as demand meets capacity. A promotional strategy, as part of a comprehensive management plan, also needs to be developed.
As well as bicycle storage, we need bicycle transport as well. We understand that discussions are currently underway to upgrade the facilities for bicycles on trains, and look forward to their implementation.
However, the rail system only serves a fraction of the population. It is not feasible to provide secure parking at every bus stop. Also, given the radial nature of our bus routes, the bicycle may be needed at the end of the trip. While it is possible, if not always easy, to take your bicycle on the train, this is not currently the situation with buses. We need to see a trial of bike racks on buses in the near future. The current lack of progress is unacceptable.
Creating Safer and More Useable Physical Cycling Environments
40km/h residential speed limits
On the evidence available, in order to reduce road deaths and injuries significantly, speed limits in residential streets across the state must be reduced to 40km/h. In addition urban arterial roads must be limited to 50km/h and country roads and freeways limited to 100km/h.
Such reductions will reduce road injury and injury death very significantly. In addition, more people will be encouraged to cycle due to the increased safety of the streets. As a result there will be fewer illnesses and deaths due to coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, mental health issues, diabetes mellitus and injury due to sub-optimal bone mass (Commonwealth Department of Aged Care and Health 1998, Clark et al 1998).
In short, if road speeds are reduced by changed law and due to better enforcement, there will be less road trauma but also greater population health.
Taking into account:
- the crash statistics associated with movements within the Adelaide City Council area,
- the density and complexity of street activity within the ACC area (private cars, commercial vehicles, bicycles, buses, trams, pedestrians, scooters, roller skates, etc.) and
- the dominance of the traffic light system which controls average speeds,
limiting speeds to 40km/h in all streets will significantly reduce road injury and death in the ACC. BISA believes that lower city speed limits will have no impact on city movement times.
BISA argues that speed trials in particular areas are now counterproductive. Evidence internationally and within Australia indicates that lower speed limits will save lives and prevent injury. A state-wide change is required to lower limits (40km/h, 50km/h and 100km/h) so that the culture of road use is changed and uncertainty and ambiguity engendered through piecemeal change is lessened.
Given the dangers to young children, those under 12 years of age are allowed to ride on footpaths. A similar argument applies to people over 60 years of age. Accident rates increase substantially for older riders. Riders in this age group ride sedately, and are unlikely to provide a serious danger to pedestrians.
Sealing of road shoulders on rural arterial roads
Given that separate facilities along these roads are not economically viable, consideration should be given to sealing the road shoulder. As well as providing space for cyclists, it will reduce the wear on the edges of roads caused by heavy vehicles, and also reduce car roll-overs caused by over-correction when cars veer onto the gravel. Any rumble strips to alert drowsy drivers that they have veered off the road need to be designed so as to not discourage bicycle use of that portion of the road.
Skirts on trucks
Turbulence by passing trucks is a concern for cyclists. The fitting of skirts between the wheels substantially reduces turbulence, and provides under-run protection for cyclists and car drivers. They also reduce road noise and fuel consumption. BISA calls for the fitting of skirts to be a requirement for all new registrations of heavy vehicles.
Traffic management devices
It is ironic that some devices designed to reduce motorised traffic cause danger to cyclists. The use of squeeze points to reduce traffic flows should be avoided, particularly on important bicycle routes, as they put cyclists in conflict with motorists.
Provision of direct bicycle routes
In older suburbs laid out in grid fashion, back streets provide a low stress and fairly direct route for cyclists. However, newer suburbs are designed to reduce through traffic and reduce vehicle speeds. A failure to provide cycling routes through these new developments force cyclists onto arterial roads.
It is possible to design sub-divisions that retain the features designed to slow motorised traffic, while providing direct bicycle routes through them. This should become standard practice in all new developments, with an emphasis on providing routes to community facilities such as schools and shopping centres. In the meantime, priority should be given to developing excellent bicycle facilities on arterial roads through newer suburbs that do not have low stress routes through them.
Tourism and Major Events
Adelaide has the capacity to differentiate itself from many other tourist destinations. Our mild climate, flat terrain, and relative lack of congestion make this an ideal cycling environment. The Tour Down Under is a wonderful vehicle to promote these advantages.
However, we cant promote the Tour Down Under and our environment in such a way without being seen to be attacking high profile motor sport events in the city parklands. If we do, then we have these motoring events sending a contrary message. We need a coherent strategy to develop a consistent image, rather than simply putting on major events just because we can. WOMAD, the Adelaide Festival, Tour Down Under are all complementary events, promoting Adelaide as cultured, safe and relaxing. We need to ensure that these major events are well serviced by public transport and cycling facilities. If we see the Tour Down Under as promoting bicycle use, sustainability, and a better society, then what does motor sport promote? Motor sport is the antithesis, promoting speed, power and waste of scarce resources, supporting the continuation of our unsustainable transport system.
Clarke B, Gaum F, Rosenfeld E & Dunn S, 1998, Transport and Health: Assessing the Impact, Flinders University and SACHRU, Adelaide
Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, 1998, Developing an active Australia: A framework for action for physical activity and health, Active Australia, Canberra
The present efforts are the latest in the decade long saga to join BISA to Bicycle SA. It is mainly driven by some BISA members who look with envy at the financial status and the facilities of Bicycle SA and want a piece of the cake.
The two bodies are not compatible. BISA is basically an enviromental group, hence its membership of the Conservation Council of SA. It is all about replacing car travel with bicycle travel, which will benefit the whole of society. BISA never received government support and was considered a difficult group. Because advocacy is hard work, only occasionally do activists materialise.
Bicycle SA is a recreation group, and as such it received government support almost from its inception. It is all about adding bicycle travel to undiminished car travel and which will benefit only a few enthusiasts. It was favourably looked upon by the governments as an easily manipulated group with uncontroversial aims, a friendly group. According to the governments, especially in the 80s, it was better to ride for fun on the weekend than interfere with peak hour car travel, which is still seen as an economic indicator. There is no shortage of members in Bicycle SA because most people prefer entertainment to the toil of advocacy.
If BISA is joined to Bicycle SA the latter will, because of its size, gradually take over and squeeze advocacy to a minor role, as has happened in Victoria where a new advocacy group has been formed. This sidelining of activism will occur despite the best of intentions at the beginning.
I suggest that BISA halts its efforts at amalgamation with the recreation group Bicycle SA in the interests of independent lobbying.
Instead BISA should seek permanent or opportunistic alliances with groups with similar enviromental aims such as Walksafe, People for Public Transport, urban planning groups, resident groups, community bodies and on specific issues even with Bicycle SA and other cycling groups. To be more effective BISA should also support, guide, encourage and aim to establish (where not in existence) Bicycle User Groups (BUGS) for more local action in each council area.