Dear bike lane designer …

#Albury bike lanesOne of the funniest websites around is Warrington Cycle Campaign’s Cycle Facility of the Month, an hilarious look at bike infrastructure that should never have left the drawing board.

Inspired by the laughs, I captured some of Melbourne’s efforts in 2008-2009 and while they’re not a match for Warrington’s, I’ve dropped in a few below.

Melbourne has it better than some places for infrastructure. Sydney’s right wing media regularly goes hyperbolic at Clover Moore for modernising the pretty city for bikes, while one Adelaide Lord Mayoral candidate hopes to kill off both bike lanes AND bus lanes [ed: he lost]. We’ve been there. Robert Doyle pledged to open Swanston St to cars when seeking the Lord Mayor’s gig in 2008 but he later recanted, to his credit. Opposition to our humble little machines is clearly considered a vote winner and the gains don’t come easy.

No doubt there’s been a steep learning curve for practitioners amid the cycling boom as they juggle budgets, expectations, road space and politics. I thought of them last week on a quick recce of the High Country Rail Trail which sparkles with the Sandy Creek rail bridge over Lake Hume on the Murray:

IMG_8874 High Country Rail Trail Sandy Creek rail bridge

Sandy Creek rail bridge

But the 15 km between train station and trail head showcased the spectrum of cycling infrastructure – a neat newish bridge, familiar on-road bike lanes, chilled off-road path, scary Copenhagen lane, two-way bike lane, bike lanes on the right of the road, bike lanes on the left of the road and some curious dashes behind angle-parked cars on the main drag. I still haven’t worked them out. Not to mention a few dedicated left turn lanes and a dual left turn lane where I needed to make a hook turn. I zigged and zagged trying to follow the usual visual cues but a couple of times I just stopped to marvel.

IMG_8795 Albury bike lanesKindaCopenhagen lane: Impressive width and green treatment that I didn’t expect in a country city. No buffer zone against doorings but wide and quiet enough that you can pretty much ride left. 

Bike lanesCopenFranken lane: The big lane ended so I zigged right to join the rest of the traffic, then spotted the continuation cunningly camouflaged by a shopping trolley. It’s like cheese in a mouse-trap – lured by the green to a kerbside lane without door buffer, but it’s now half width and alongside shops with pedestrians leaping out of cars. Snap!IMG_8800 #Wodonga bike lanesFunnelled to a service lane, you zig to the left, right? Wrong. Zag to the right-hand bike lane, strategically positioned behind nose-in parking. 

IMG_8900RHS service road lane: I’m ready for it this time and it’s lost the parking here, but it feels way too close to cars entering the service road at speed. It was probably about the nice straight alignment and I assume it works for the locals but a surprise all the same.

IMG_8912Buses are big: You can’t ask a bus to get closer to the kerb than this, which leaves it squatting on the bike lane. Moving or widening the bike lane to the right would mean everyone gets their little patch of real estate. Still, it all takes money and council budgets are as stretched as everyone else’s.

So, to the delegates at this week’s Bike Futures conference in Melbourne, thanks for the great bits that make me smile. But mundanely predictable is pretty cool too.

If anyone wants to contribute photos, I might set up a page again. You can get in touch through the comments or here.

Some of the old shots from around Melbourne:


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