Bicycle Network: Good Design Guides
S: Separator and rumble strip trials
Bicycle Network Victoria took this innovative ‘Riley’ separator to the office of the Minister for Roads recently and asked for some trials on the bike network. He agreed and we hope soon to tell you where the trials will take place.
The importance of separation
We know that we can attract new riders by providing a kerbside lane fully separated from the traffic. In 2007 the City of Melbourne installed the ‘Copenhagen’ lanes in Swanston Street Melbourne. This treatment is effective but it is costly and can probably only be justified in high conflict areas in and around busy CBDs.
The King Street bike lane symbolises the approach that the City of Sydney is taking. Their CBD network will be fully separated run kerbside and include a major upgrade of the streetscape. This is appropriate and necessary if bike trips are to take some of the load in the busy Sydney CBD.
We are keen to find other effective ways to define and strengthen the bike space whether it is kerbside or out on the road between the parking and the travel lane as has been common in Australia.
We found in 2008 that a traditional bike lanes performance can be improved by strengthening the line. The installation of Vibraline or acoustic line marking (ACLM) on Rathdowne Street has lead to an increase in rider numbers. Recently the City of Melbourne installed another length of rumble strip near the Victoria Market.
So far the City of Melbourne is the only organisation installing ACLM for bike applications. We asked the Minister if he would ask VicRoads to follow suit. He said he would. The trials will not be of the material which is well tested, VicRoads and many other road authorities use ACLM to define shoulders on rural roads so that drowsy drivers get a clue that they are veering off the road.
For some time we have been trying to get the standard Melbourne ‘tram separator’ used next to a bike lane. We commissioned a study by SKM and included this solution in our Quick, Easy, Cheap publication at the beginning of 2008. We expect that a bike lane enhanced with separators would give riders a lot of confidence and reduce intrusions by motor vehicle significantly.
In 2008 VicRoads conducted trials over 3 days of the standard Melbourne ‘tram separator’. The trials were a success but the report suggested that the design of the separator could be more appropriate for bike riders. We have found that the road authorities seem reluctant to use such a large separator – 30cm wide for bike lanes.
The story of the Riley separator is worth telling. Richard McKie who runs TCAustralia a supplier of products for traffic calming is a keen bike rider. He and his wife are both Bicycle Network Victoria members and go pedalling together. After a ride and couple of scotches Richard decided to make a prototype ‘baby’ separator just for bikes. He showed the prototype to Bicycle Network Victoria and to Cameron Munro at SKM consulting. He modified the prototype to make the Riley separator.
The separator is made of recycled rubber and has built in reflectors and a very small bevel (3mm) so that you can easily ride up and onto it if you need to move out of the lane. Interestingly the separator is cheaper than ACLM as it does not have to be continuous to be effective. Trials will establish the optimum frequency so that the least number of separators have to be installed while maintaining effectiveness. It is likely that the Riley separators will turn out to be cheaper per kilometre than ACLM.
We have suggested testing ACLM and separators on bike lanes that bend to the left and are therefore more liable to intrusion by motor vehicles. Another application is on stand up lanes – or bike lanes between lanes of motor vehicles. In particular we would like to strengthen the lanes on the Heidelberg Road overpass – the site of fatality a couple of years ago when a driver drifted into the bike lane. The lanes were first painted in the 1990s and then upgraded to coloured lanes in 2002. Exposed sites like this should have the most effective tools available.