Tuesday, 23 June 2009

New thoughts on cycle lanes

Following some (car) road trips outside of town this year (to cycle events of course :)). I find myself of the growing opinion that we need slow vehicle (or vulnerable vehicle lanes), not cycle lanes.

We're all special, but that is because we are people. Not because we are cyclists.

As a motorist myself, I do not understand why so many motorists will stop for a dog, or a sheep but if its a human they think "mow 'em down".

This seems to apply equally campervans, mopeds and farm tractors etc as much as cyclists.

It seems that the more cycle lanes there are, the more it seems to support the incorrect motorist notion that cyclists do belong on the road (ever) - even where no such facilities exist. No amount of Cycle Lane infrastructure will fix the underlying of problem of the inequality and disrespect of being treated as 2nd class, facing daily assassination attempts and underlying attitudes of motorists that cyclists do not belong there.

Not to forget that existing cycle lanes have a nasty, and dangerous habit of ending when you need them. The most dangerous part is at the intersections, or narrow corners where the cycle lanes typically abruptly terminate (e.g. the Petone round-about in Wellington).

A better example in Wellington is the ~1m gap behind the new traffic island from Evans Bay Parade, turning left into Cobham drive. Its not even a cycle-lane on either side but it nicely gets you through the intersection, away from traffic and into the shoulder of the busy road. Brilliant. Thankyou WCC :).

Instead of long cycle ways, fix the really dangerous part - intersections by adding enhanced features at intersections for vulnerable road-users (like cyclists).

How about replacing passing lanes with slow vehicle lanes?

Motorists need to know that cyclists and other slow or vulnerable vehicles do not like having faster moving vehicles behind them, as much as motorists may not like having cyclists or slower vehicles in front of them. How about, some reverse psychology so that motorists have a higher assurance that a slow vehicle will let them past as soon as the opportunity presents itself, rather than the existing motorist assumption of birthright to pass slow moving vehicles regardless of dangers presented by on-coming traffic, blind corners, crests of hills etc.

Anyway, that is my rant for the evening. Any thoughts?



  1. Mea culpa! I though you guys liked being snuck up on from behind, then horn tooting, and really close passing. Mea culpa! :-)

    You know I'm only joking mate!

  2. I agree with nearly everything you've said (maybe everything). On the topic of [dis]respect, though, I do think it's important to acknowledge that the cyclist community has its own share of jerks, although really it's people who act inappropriately from time to time, and this transcends their chosen mode of transport.

    Most cyclists I meet are very courteous, but every so often I come across a cyclist who acts arrogant on the road, sometimes as if they're acting well beyond what's reasonable simply to prove a point that they have a right to be there, or something like that. I've also seen cyclists resort to road rage as much as motorists. Motorists are more noticeable and usually cause more damage when they happen to be jerks, though. A decent public education campaign to educate people about how to act towards each other wouldn't go astray, or has this one passed me by thanks to my refusal to watch much television?

    Some of it is just a matter of people getting used to what to expect with the way things have changed over the past few years. As a pedestrian on Glenmore Street during rush hour in the mornings, I've been almost caught out a couple of times because of the slow moving traffic, not expecting a cyclist or two to come speeding through the gaps without much warning. I've now been trying to train myself to look extra carefully in such situations before stepping between cars to cross the road, but even with pedestrian crossings I've had cyclists come screaming down the hill acting as if they have no intention of slowing down for pedestrians let alone stopping, so I've stood back and let them through,

    It still doesn't compare with rush hour motorists on Customhouse Quay where people gratuitously run red lights at pedestrians with cross signs, and it's almost guaranteed on every single phase! Sometimes there seems to be an attitude that if people in other cars aren't affected, breaking the rules is okay.

  3. So, er, to clarify a discussion we had this afternoon for the benefit of your readers, there's a wonderful circle of equilibrium for all of this.

    * Motorists are chased by dogs.
    * Cyclists are chased by motorists.
    * Pedestrians are chased by cyclists.
    * Dogs are eaten by pedestrians (at least in China).

    Well, that's how I remember the conversation.