Bike Futures 2012

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With transport identified as a key issue for the upcoming State election, the recent Bike Futures conference hosted by Bicycle Network Australia (previously Bicycle Victoria) at the MCG provided a valuable insight into the current status of bicycle planning and implementation in Australia.

“The Bike Futures Program aims to develop the capability of local governments across Australasia to gain from all the benefits of More People Cycling More Often.” (more…)

In its fourth year, the focus for the 2012 conference was providing practical tools for implementing cycling initiatives, particularly at the local government level. A range of national and international presenters addressed topics ranging from the psychology of implementing change at a national level, through to selecting the most appropriate line markings and geometry for roundabouts.

Top Ten Ideas for Implementing Cycling Initiatives

The primary value in this event was the range of tools and information packaged for implementation and our top ten ideas are briefly described below:

  1. Present positive messages. Behaviour change occurs through the promotion of positive rather than negative. So, to increase the takeup of cycling as a viable transport option, messages should convey cycling as a normal and easy activity, rather than cultivating the perception of cycling as a dangerous fringe activity only for the ‘brave and fearless’. Take control of the cycling dialogue with messages such as ‘cycling is the fastest growing transport mode in Australia’, rather than giving oxygen to stories about crashes or cyclists running red lights.
  2. Focus resources on young families. With limited infrastructure/promotion budgets, the most cost-effective demographic to create change is young families, especially those moving into new subdivisions. By integrating cycle-friendly infrastructure, subdivision design, and destination based planning adults are more open to making lifestyle choices, and children raised to see cycling as normal are more likely to continue to cycle. Also, child friendly = cycle friendly, so if you design a road or subdivision, a personal litmus test is to ask, ‘would i let my child cycle here’.
  3. Retrofitting can be more effective via incremental changes. Where cycling infrastructure is identified as desirable for a particular area, it may be more effective to gradually improve the cycling environment. For instance, painting a bike lane -> marking a wider lane with green asphalt -> constructing a fully separated bike lane.
  4. Women cyclists are a good litmus test for effective cycling culture. Many local governments and other organisations collect data on cyclists using particular routes (for instance the annual ‘Super Tuesday’ count). A good indicator of a well developed cycling culture is where female cyclists approach parity with male cyclists.
  5. Reducing speed. At 30kph, the chance of a pedestrian or cyclist surviving a collision with a motor vehicle is 9 in 10; at 50 kph, the chance of survival falls to 2 in 10. Taking into account the effective speed of a motor vehicle (this includes point to point and takes into account the operational cost by quantifying the need to find alternative exercise, negative health impacts, additional hours worked to service the cost of owning and running a motor vehicle etc), most major cities have an operational speed of well below 20 kph.
  6. Roundabout design (radial over tangential). A radial roundabout uses a proportionally larger centre to the roundabout, requiring entering and exiting vehicles to slow significantly when compared to a tangential design. Radial designs are typically used in European, non English-speaking countries and reduce the chance of collision but at the cost that vehicles do not move as quickly through the intersection. Another aspect of roundabout design is the increase in collisions where a bike lane is included in a single-lane roundabout. In this instance, the risk of a motor vehicle colliding with a bicycle is reduced where the bike ‘takes the lane’. Risk of collision between bike an car is directly related to speed.
  7. Focus on destinations. ‘Build it and they will come’ is the mantra for all transport medium, with the proviso for cycling that planners should consider catchments. For instance, research indicates that people will travel 4 km to purchase groceries; if safe routes are constructed, and secure parking provided, cycling becomes a practical transport mode. Retailers are traditionally resistant to losing car parking bays to cycle parking, however research from Lygon Street, Carlton indicates that cycle parking generates $31/hour per m2 parking compared to $6/hour for car bays.
  8. It’s (nearly) all about the funding. No federal funding for cycling infrastructure and state/local funding is insufficient to make significant change. Incorporating a range of metrics (reduced congestion, pollution, oil dependence, improved health etc) demonstrates that cycling infrastructure creates significant return on investment.
  9. The difference between free-flowing traffic and gridlock can be as small as 10% in volume. Nearly every commuter cyclist = 1 less car.
  10. Ride yourself. The best way to appreciate the difference between good and bad infrastructure is to get on a bike. There are a range of government and non-government organisations, clubs, bicycle user groups, and bike shops providing information on how, where, when, and why to start cycling.

Bicycle Friendly Urban Development – A Planning Checklist

While there is a wealth of information on cycle planning and implementation, Bicycle Network have produced a useful checklist and practice notes to assess and guide urban development. If you would like to discuss how this tool could assist your project, or have any queries regarding any of the points raised, please do not hesitate to contact Taylor Burrell Barnett.

More Information

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