Bicycle Network: Better Transport
Latest Transport News
Woman riders: separation the key
4 April 2013. A national survey of women has found that they are keen to ride bikes but are deterred by the lack of safe infrastructure.
Fifty per cent recognised that more separated bike paths, bike lanes and wider lanes on the road would be the main incentive to get them riding more.
Sixty per cent of women (or equivalent 5.2 million women) said they wanted to ride more often.
The results came from a national survey of more than 1,000 women across Australia undertaken by the Cycling Promotion Fund and the National Heart Foundation.
The survey also found:
- The main safety concerns among women involved motor vehicles (car, bus and trucks) due to speed, volume and distracted drivers (66% or equivalent to 5.6 million women)
- 90% of women agreed that government should improve cycling facilities by providing more bike paths and/or lanes
- 30% (2.55 million) women reported they had ridden a bike in the past 6 months. In comparison, 90% had ridden a bike at least once every six months as a child.
“Cycling is clearly something that women want to do, but they’re being let down by a lack of safe cycle routes,” said Dr Lyn Roberts, National CEO of the Heart Foundation.
“Women told us their main safety concerns involved traffic and cars, with speed and volume of cars and trucks, and distracted drivers, highlighting their desire for more separate off road cycling paths, more bike lanes, and wider lanes to stay safe.
“Without a concerted effort to get more women cycling by addressing infrastructure and safety, state, territory and federal governments will not achieve their national goal of doubling the rates of cycling by 2016.”
The study re-inforces observations derived from the recent Super Tuesday bike count in Melbourne where inner suburban routes with good infrastructure attracted high numbers of female riders.
Cycling Promotion Fund spokesperson, Stephen Hodge, said governments need to consider women when designing transport systems and the inclusion of safe, separated bike infrastructure will support women using active travel for transport and recreation.
“The data showed that when women cycle for transport they ride for a variety of reasons including shopping, running errands and getting to and from work or study. With women’s preferences in mind, we need to build bike networks that connect women to local destinations such as community activity centres and shops, as well as travelling to work,” Mr Hodge said.
The Federal Government last week announced that federally-funded urban transport infrastructure projects will be required to consider cycling and walking paths. Mr Hodge said this will mean that safe, active travel options are built into the design of roads, rather than as an after-thought or not at all.
Time travel reveals the Space Gobbler
18 March 2013. An urgent treasure hunt has located a very special campaign poster from the early days of Melbourne's bike and public transport movement.
The Make Room to Move Poster was produced by Environment Victoria in 1980 to highlight the inefficiency of car-based transportation.
"Space Gobbler and Road Blocks", the text begins. "One person sitting in a car takes up 12 times the room of a cyclist and 40 times the room of pedestrian or tram passenger."
The poster came to attention after we publicised the production of a poster in Canberra last year to highlight the same issue. (See below 'Now they'll get it!' 19 September 2012)
That poster, produced by the Cycling Promotion Fund, paid homage to an earlier, famous poster along the same lines from the German city of Muenster.
Then word started to trickle in about an even earlier Melbourne version on the same theme, and the hunt was on: Could we find a copy of the poster from Swanston Street in 1980?
Bicycle Networks members started scouring garages and attics for the rare poster.
Found it! Dr John Stone, of Melbourne University's Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning possessed an almost pristine copy, which has now been digitally copied and preserved for posterity.
It must have worked. The cars are (mostly) gone from Swanston Street, and bikes, trams and pedestrians dominate what is now a thriving street economy.
You can download a reduced size version from the link above.
RACV: running hot and cold on bikes
15 November 2012. Victoria's massively popular automobile club—the RACV—continues to wax and wane over bikes, often being strongly supportive, but occasionally talking like its 1970's again.
In the latest winding back of the clock, RACV president and chairman, Ross M Herron, wagged his finger at bike riders for running red lights and other poor behaviour.
In his 'From the President' column in the November issue of the Royalauto he stated: "The increased incidence of cyclists disobeying red lights, riding without lights or wearing dark clothing is a worrying trend. "We've also had increasing reports of confrontation between motorists and cyclists."
Yet also this month Victoria Police released the results of Operation Halo 2, the latest blitz on road user behaviour in Melbourne's inner suburbs. If you have ever ridden a bike you can probably guess the results: Disobey traffic lights or signs - Bikes 25, Cars/Trucks 384.
We know from the statistics from red light cameras that cars running the red light is almost at epidemic proportions in Victoria, yet the level of social anxiety created by this threat to public safety is nothing like the response evoked when a handful of bike riders also red lights.
In the same issue of Royalauto there is a letter to the editor stating: "It continually amazes me that there are cars with no parking lights, or no headlights, out and about after sunset. They obviously have no idea how difficult it is to spot them, especially when the car colour is dark."
Well, there you go! Cars out at night without lights and dressed in dark colours. The government must act!
It is understandable that the huge increase in bike riding on Victoria's roads is creating uncertainty and confusion. Change always does.
And it is true to say that the RACV is adapting to this new reality better than most of its ilk. Jaws dropped around the car organisation world a few years back when RACV declared it was changing from a motoring-only organisation into a 'mobility' body, supporting the rights of other transport modes such as bike riders.
As the president says in his column mentioned above, RACV has done much to back up this commitment, supporting Ride2Work and Ride2School, operating Melbourne BikeShare, and sometimes encouraging council and government initiatives for better bike facilities.
Here at Bicycle Network Victoria we have had a great partnership with RACV with their sponsorship of the Great Victorian Bike Ride. We are actually proud to work with a motoring body that is so far out in front of its peers.
And we hope we can encourage them to accelerate that trend.
However we know that the siren call of a throbbing V8 engine can be very alluring, and interfere with rational thought. Ross Herron, you're forgiven. This once.
VicRoads annual Traffic Monitor shows the network's ups and downs
31 October 2012 The latest annual Traffic Monitor Report reflecting Melbourne's arterial and freeway network performance shows us the good, the bad and the ugly of our road network. The full report is available here.
- Over the last ten years the average vehicle distance travelled has increased 16%.
This increase has been almost entirely on the freeway network
- Over the last ten years a ten km trip now takes on average one minute longer.
- Public transport boardings increased over the 2010/11 period: Trains by 4.4%, trams by 4.1% and buses by 3.9%
- The bike counters have shown an annual 6.6% growth in numbers
- Average am peak travel speed has decreased 0.2km/h
- Average pm peak travel speed has decreased 4km/h
- Car occupancy has dropped from 1.2 to 1.09 per car in the AM peak
This last point is a key indicator. VicRoads uses the 'Person Lane Occupancy' (PLO) as a measure of how efficiently the road network is being used to move people. This is a direct comparison of people moving per road space available. The increase in public transport patronage, combined with increase in bike riding has seemingly allowed drivers become lazy by taking up more capacity on our road network.
Tram speeds vary greatly across the network and anecdotally we have observed that the inner areas many patrons are abandoning the trams due to speed and lack of space on their tram and taken to their bikes.
A strong population growth of 17% from 2001 to 2010 has seen the majority of increase in the inner and outer zones, whilst there was a decrease in the middle zones. This was directly relational to the rate at which the community used the network, although the inner network handled the increased demand far better.
A population growth of 25% in the inner areas translated to a 4% increase in Vehicle Kilometres travelled (VKT), whilst in the outer zones a population increase of 3% saw a a far greater VKT increase than anywhere else. In a nuthsell what this would seem to tell us is that the inner netowrk is coping well due to to shorter trips and better mode shift whilst the outer network is struggling due to huge population growth which is pressuring a network with far longer trip distances and fewer mode choices.
The good news for bikes is that we are playing our part to releave congestion in the inner and middle areas. The Counter devices across the netowrk have all recorded a strong growth despite many being hampered by construction sights andf the like.
Bikes give more for less . . . much less
30 October 2012. The Queensland government has found that bike infrastructure—even if built to the highest standard—is vastly less expensive than other transport infrastructure.
This graph, produced by the Australian Bicycle Council (ABC), compares bike infrastructure to the cost of rail and road building, including tunnels.
The figures were provided by Queensland's Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR).
The estimates are based on an average $1.5 million per kilometre to plan and construct a separated bicycle path. This amount delivers a very high quality path. For comparison some separated paths in Melbourne have been built for $300,000 per kilometre.
According to the ABC, in Queensland the costs line up like this:
1km of rail costs the equivalent of 29 kms of bikeway
1km of motorway/road costs the equivalent of 110 kms of bikeway
1km of busway costs the equivalent of 138 kms of bikeway
1km of road tunnel costs the equivalent of 324 kms of bikeway
1km of underground rail costs the equivalent of 533 kms of bikeway.
Research on the level
1 October 2012. Monash University Accident Research Centre is conducting a study to examine cyclists’ decision making at rail level crossings.
MUARC are looking for Victorian residents aged 18-65 who regularly cross railway level crossings as a cyclist at least three times per week.
The researchers are looking for people in both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.
The study involves completing a daily diary for two weeks, recording your experiences at rail level crossings.
The diary should take no longer than 10 minutes to fill out each day. You will be offered $30 to compensate you for your time.
To sign up to the study complete the recruitment survey:
or contact Vanessa Beanland 03 9905 1810
Equivalent studies underway examining car drivers and pedestrians.
Now they'll get it!
19 September 2012. Convincing the world that bike transport is highly efficient and saves the taxpayer a fortune has never been easy, but this new photograph should help.
On Sunday 9th September 69 volunteers, 69 bicycles, 60 cars and one bus gathered to recreate a world-renowned photograph taken more than 20 years ago to demonstrate the advantages of bus and bicycle travel in congested cities.
A Canberra street was used to show the typical space occupied in a city street by cars, bicycles and a bus. It is based on a famous image taken in the German city of Muenster.
The Australian photographic initiative was funded by the Cycling Promotion Fund, the ACT Government and online donations from Australians via the Go! Alliance website, also receiving in-kind support from Pedal Power ACT. The project used 69 people, as this is the capacity of a standard Canberra bus, and 60 cars, as this is the number occupied on average by 69 people.
(A similar image was taken in Swanston Street, Melbourne in 1980 by Environment Victoria, but is proving difficult to locate)
“The image succinctly illustrates the greater space efficiency of bus and bicycle travel,” spokesperson for the Cycling Promotion Fund (CPF), Mr Stephen Hodge said.
“In the space it takes to accommodate 60 cars, cities can accommodate around sixteen buses or more than 600 bikes.”
While many developed nations are embracing active travel, Australia is missing major opportunities to develop efficient and convenient transport options that have significant health and economic benefits.
“Eight out of ten Australian adults still use a private motor vehicle to travel to work or full-time study, just 14% take public transport, 4% walk and a mere 2% cycle, with 30% of these trips in the cities under 3km” Mr Hodge said.
“If Australians continue on this path it is estimated that productivity loss due to avoidable congestion—the economic loss due to the amount of time wasted in traffic—will be $20 billion by 2020.
“There’s been great interest from cities across Australia and we’re hoping that by making the image freely available this interest translates into wide dissemination.
“As Australia’s population swells and our cities experience ever increasing congestion we need to get smarter about how we use existing road space—including investing more in alternatives such as public transport and cycling—if we are to move people more efficiently and effectively," Mr Hodge said.
Bus lane rights threat
2 November 2011. The prospect of bikes being legally welcome in all bus lanes has been dashed by a sudden and rapid policy swerve by the State Government.
Following a long and thorough evaluation of the bike and bus lane sharing concept by VicRoads, which gave the idea the thumbs up, it had been expected that the Government would soon give the all clear.
But the long-expected reform is now under threat and bike riders may be forced to share the bus lanes with fast-moving motorcycles.
The sudden change was sprung with the announcement this week of a 'trial' of motorcycles using one of Melbourne's bus lanes.
According to a statement by VicRoads 'the purpose of the trial is to assess the operational and road safety impacts of allowing motorcycles to use a selected bus lane so an evidence-based decision can be made on whether to permit motorcycles in bus lanes on a permanent basis.'
The trial will start in November and last for six months.
Apparently one of the expected bus lane attractions for motorcyclists is 'travel time benefits'â€”in other words, they will be able to travel much faster.
Mixing fast traveling motorcycles and bike riders in a car-free lane flies in the face of world's best practice in reducing risks to bike riders.
Surely there was detailed policy analysis to justify this jump into the unknown? Actually, no. The reason, according to VicRoads was that 'during the 2010 Victorian State election, the Government committed to a range of motorcycle initiatives, including the trial."
And now that the commitment has been made, the search is on for evidence to justify it.
"The trial has been carefully scoped as it needs to support evidence based decisions on the future use of bus lanes by motorcycles, particularly from a safety perspective.
"A detailed understanding of motorcycle behaviour and bus operations prior to the trial will be documented. This will be compared with the behaviour and operations that occur during the trial.
"Of particular importance will be quantifying the benefits (and dis-benefits) to motorcycles, buses and other road users."
The trial site will be the southbound bus lane in Hoddle Street. This site was selected after establishing site selection criteria and examining all metropolitan Melbourne bus lanes for their suitability, and consulting with a range of key stakeholders. Hoddle Street southbound was selected due to:
- The relatively high number of buses and motorcycles should provide sufficient information for the study.
- The multiple locations to observe motorcycle and bus interactions such as at stop lines and at bus stops.
- The length of Hoddle Street means that motorcycles should be attracted to the bus lane due to the likely travel time benefits over such a length.
- The bus lane is neither narrow nor wide, and hence motorcyclists will need to make a judgement on whether to pass between a stationary bus or not.
- The congested traffic in the adjacent lanes.
Bicycles, taxis, VHA/B/C (Victorian hired cars) are currently permitted in the Hoddle Street inbound bus lane.
Bikes step up to the plate
19 October 2011. There is a chance that bikes could benefit from the announcement by the Premier, Mr Ballieu, that Victoria's number plates will in the future carry a safety message.
Addressing the Liberal Party State Council in Bendigo, Mr Baillieu said the new safety message would be selected after extensive consultation.
"What better place to reinforce road safety messages than on number plates," Mr Baillieu said.
"We want to hear from Victorians across the state – drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, children – this is an issue that affects us all.
"It is about getting people thinking and talking about how to improve road safety.
"We know that continual reminders and reinforcing messages are an important part of road safety public education.
"The new number plates will effectively mean hundreds of thousands of reminders to drive safely on our roads every day."
Mr Baillieu invited Victorians to submit their ideas here.
Bike-specific concerns were not included in the survey, but there is a box for "other".
Riders with ideas should fill in the survey and let the Premier know that the interests of Victoria's bike riders should be taken into consideration in the development of the new plate slogan.
The new number plates are expected to roll out in Victoria next year.
Bike strategy fails to reach potential
24 August 2011. The State Government's bike strategy started off in the right direction, but has not lived up to its promise, according to the Victorian Auditor-General.
The 2009 strategy was a first, important step for Victoria to significantly raise the profile and role of cycling as part of a more sustainable transport system, the Auditor General, Mr Des Pearson said.
But serious limitations in its development and implementation compromised its potential to achieve its goal.
The report "Developing Cycling as a Safe and Appealing Mode of Transport" is said to be the first such scrutiny of the effectiveness of government bike strategies.
"The strategy was developed in haste without sufficient understanding of either current cycling journeys or what was required to ‘mainstream’ cycling as a form of transport," Mr Pearson said.
"In addition, agencies were not well prepared to implement the strategy or evaluate its success, and this contributed to the unsatisfactory progress in addressing its limitations.
The Auditor's staff met with Bicycle Network Victoria during the preparation of the audit, and made use of count data and other performance evaluation material gathered by Bicycle Network Victoria.
Mr Pearson said the strategy was not comprehensive because it did not include sufficient measures to effectively protect
and educate cyclists, to promote cycling, to invest in facilities and to make car travel less attractive. These measures had been particularly effective in European countries
He also said it based on an insufficient understanding to determine what was needed to ‘mainstream’ cycling and to establish meaningful targets against which to gauge the success of the strategy.
Major recommendations are that the Department of Transport and VicRoads should:
- complete implementation plans, when developing future cycling strategies, that describe objectives, time lines, resources and responsibilities and how a strategy will be managed, monitored and reported
- improve the quality of project plans so that they consistently meet agencies’ internal requirements by creating better practice templates
- finalise evaluation frameworks, when developing future strategies, that describe outcomes, realistic targets, benchmark data and how success will be measured and reported for component projects and for the overall strategy
- develop a sound basis for informing and implementing government policy through an improved understanding of current and potential cyclists, the journeys they make, the barriers to ‘growing’ cycling and how to best overcome these
- apply the mechanisms required to effectively coordinate actions to ‘grow’ cycling and improve information sharing across the government agencies and non-government organisations involved in cycling
- in consultation with other managers, review and update guidance on the construction, maintenance, auditing and retrofitting of shared bicycle paths and agree on the maintenance arrangements for the finalised Principal Bicycle Network.
The full report is here.
Lazy roads a waste of space
28 July 2011. The long standing road manager doctrine that a travel lane must be a minimum 3.5m wide is unjustified, is costing the community money, and is penalising bike riders.
Roads are some of the most and valuable real estate in our cities and regions, yet we are wastefully under-utilising them.
The state and local government tradition of over-specifying the width of a typical traffic lane has created ‘lazy’ roads that are not delivering the value the community demands.
The belief that wide lanes are safer lanes is know regarded as myth.
This means that bike lanes can easily be placed on many roadsâ€”with no safety compromisesâ€”simply by adjusting travel lane width.
In practice many busy travel lanes are well under 3.5m wide. The lanes over the Westgate Bridge are now 3.1m wide. When the lanes are set at this width and the speed is limited to 80kph, there is enough room on the bridge deck to fit in another lane of traffic.
But these intelligent departures, successful as thy are, are yet to lead to fundamental changes to practice or the belief in the 3.5m ‘standard’.
Now a study from SKM draws attention to this contradiction.
The Traffic Lanes Widths on Urban Roads report summarises the current research on the performance of wider and narrower lanes and makes the important point that wider lanes do not necessarily lead to safer roads.
This report opens the door to widespread use of optimised travel lanes that will allow our roads to carry more people.
The benefits of optimised lanes accrue to all modes. In the Westgate example, by optimising the lanes other motorists benefit. In other cases optimisation has enabled the installation of priority bus lanes and other capacity increasing measures.
One opportunity that arises on state and local roads is the chance to delineate space for bike riders.
Bicycle Network Victoria and VicRoads figures show that the number of people travelling into the Melbourne CBD on bicycles each day has steadily increased over the past six years. The number of riders has more than doubled in this period while motor vehicle volumes have remained steady or dropped slightly.
Much of this increase in bike riding has come on roads reconfigured to allow marking of bike lanes. The extra bicycle lanes have been installed without adverse impact on motor vehicles lanes or capacity. So, overall, marking of bike lanes has allowed us to fit more people into the same road at minimal cost.
The bike lanes on three major arteries running into Melbourne’s CBD - Royal Parade, St Kilda Rd and Flemington Rd, illustrate the results. All have 1.5-1.8m wide bike lanes in the service lanes (outer lanes) of the road. These were fitted in by narrowing the widths of the motor vehicles lanes and the parking lanes to allow the marking of separate space for bicycles.
According to VicRoads figures, the bike lanes on the three roads carry over 7500 people each weekday and over 2200 people in the morning peak. Excluding trams, people on bicycles now make up five percent of the people travelling on these roads. On St Kilda Rd it is over seven percent.
Imagine an extra 2,500 cars on St Kilda Rd each day (or 6,000 over the three roads) - the bike lanes carry these people on a 1.5m lane!
Bike lanes on busy roads do not suit all potential riders but for existing roads they do let us cater for adult commuter cyclists. The more separation we can provide for riders the higher the potential usage.
The bike lanes on St Kilda Rd, Royal Pde and Flemington Rd show that many people will ride if given some space on our roads in the form of a marked bike lane.
If traffic engineers are prepared to optimise urban road lane widths then many or our roads can carry more people without major capital works.
This is a win for everybody.
It is time for our road managers, state and local, to show us their innovative side.
Bikes and public transport a carbon priority
14 July 2011. Most Australians want to see additional spending on cycling, walking and public transport after the introduction of a carbon tax.
A poll of 1500 Australians conducted by Auspoll found that 72 per cent wanted a focus on active and public transport.
It was commissioned by a coalition of transport, environment, health and Local Government groups, including the Australasian Railway Association, Australian Conservation Foundation, Australian Local Government Association, Bus Industry Confederation, Cycling Promotion Fund, Heart Foundation, and International Public Transport Association.
The poll identified that 85% of Australians want the Federal Government to spend money on better planning to make walking and cycling for transport simple and convenient options.
Dr Lyn Roberts, National CEO Heart Foundation said: “This poll tells us Australians want to be more active, use public transport that is frequent, reliable and accessible and they want the infrastructure in place to encourage walking and cycling.
"Increased investment will encourage public transport patronage in our cities and unblock two kinds of arteries - ours and traffic.
“More than half of Australian adults (54%) are not sufficiently physically active to gain health benefits. Physical inactivity kills 16000 Australians a year and costs our health budget $1.5billion annually."
Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Don Henry said: “The money raised through the carbon price should primarily be spent on solutions, not on compensating industries that are part of the problem.
“That means building a low carbon economy and supporting the growth of clean energy and public transport.”
82 per cent of respondents to the poll supported an increase in Federal Government funding for public transport and 87 per cent of respondents supported Federal Government investment in public transport to address the issue of traffic congestion in major cities.
Mayor Felicity-Ann Lewis, Deputy President of the Australian Local Government Association said: “Local Government as the provider of the most extensive urban transport infrastructure is ready to work with industry and the other levels of government to address congestion and the emerging transport issues.”
Respondents who did not use public transport for work trips identified the coverage, capacity and efficiency of public transport as the major obstacles to using it, 70 per cent of all respondents supported the Federal Government becoming more involved in the planning of public transport in cities to address congestion.
Fear restrains riding
15 June 2011. A new survey has confirmed that Australians would happily ride a bike to work if the roads were designed to be safe for bike bike riders.
Sixty-two percent of Australians are willing to ride to work but don't because they fear for their safety.
The Australia-wide online survey of 1000 randomly selected adults was conducted by the Cycling Promotion Fund (CPF) and the National Heart Foundation. The CPF is the promotional arm of the bike industry.
Similar surveys around the world have produced similar resultsâ€”more than half of commuters would ride if they felt the roads were safe and bike riders were provided with attractive facilities.
According to the survey, "Riding a Bike for Transport", the main reasons people were not commuting by bike included unsafe road conditions (46 percent), speed/volume of traffic (42 percent), not feeling safe while riding (41 percent) and lack of bike lanes/trails (35 percent).
The results confirm Bicycle Network Victoria's long-standing approach that the key to getting more people riding is the provision of infrastructure that attracts people to ride.
Among other findings of the survey:
- The majority of respondents cycle due to the health and exercise benefits obtained from cycling.
- Almost 90% of those that ride a bike for transport felt their general health had improved since starting to ride for transport.
- Respondents were also likely to be influenced by the economic benefits of cycling, as well as the environmental advantages.
- A common theme for not cycling more often was due to road traffic conditions or safety. Respondents were likely to rate unsafe road condition, speed/volume of traffic, lack of bicycle lanes or safety as key reasons for not cycling often.
- Weather conditions were a factor but issues such as lack of time or motivation were not significant factors in holding back cyclists.
- Paved paths along roads physically separated from motor traffic and paved separated trails along rivers and scenic areas were conditions that would encourage people to ride more often.
- Around 60% of respondents stated they own or have access to a bike.
- Two in five respondents that owned or had access to a bike had ridden a bike in the past month.
- Of these, 60% had ridden a bike for transport purposes.
- The majority of respondents that had ridden a bike did so for either running errands/going to the shops or for leisure and recreational activities.
- More than 60% of respondents had both cycled for running errands/going to the shops and for leisure and recreational activities.
- More than 80 percent of respondents believed the federal government should be doing more to promote a safe cycle culture and more than 60 percent wanted the government to do more to encourage people to ride a bike to work and for transport in general.
Download the report.