Sunday, 27 April 2008

TR Council ignores the truth about cars and bicycles

The response in today's Chronicle from our TRC to the roundabout story is less than helpful.

Their spokesperson said they had considered cyclists in the road traffic mix.

TBUG begs to differ and the evidence is there for all to see.

Perhaps they need to read this story from the Courier Mail, and get on a bike to see what it is really like here in Toowoomba.

"Time to look both ways in the debate over who owns the road"

Courier Mail: Amy Schramm

April 24, 2008 12:00am

YOU either love them or loathe them. They are an expression of our freedom - two-wheeled environmental warriors or the cockroaches of the open road. Cyclists.

There seems to be no grey area on the subject, people are divided and with division comes conflict – between car and bicycle.

In recent years there has been a marked increase in this so-called cycle-rage.

Read the whole story here:,23739,23587545-27197,00.html

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Toowoomba needs 'green bike lanes' for safety

Below are some links to the Noosa attempts to make cycling safe.

Do take the time to visit them all and consider how much safer cycling in Toowoomba could become if our council started to think seriously about 'cycling'.

A new approach that says "cycling is OK":

And this is how to do it:

Green bike lanes:

Bicycle Awareness Zone (BAZ):

Sweeping bike lanes:


Fancy cycling?:

As well as these innovative ideas from Noosa, have a look at this short video clip from the 'Portland Box' cycle safety approach:

Monday, 21 April 2008

Winter means 'light up'

The major article below has been borrowed from Bicycle Queensland because the message is simple but very powerful and there seems little point in paraphrasing it.

We have three quality bike shops in Toowoomba, all of whom can advise riders on what is available and what would suit your lighting needs, and pockets.

See what Bicycle Victoria says about some quality battery lights here:

To be fair to other roads users, as well as looking after our own interests, we have to make sure we can be seen by drivers.

See what Queensland drivers say about bikes-without-lights:

Riding at night without lights also lowers the reputation of bike riding in the eyes of other road users – including those who ride bikes.

A survey of 4 500 drivers in Queensland confirmed that motorists find it frustrating when bike riders don’t use lights at night. The survey (RACQ October 2006) put riders without lights at night at 7th on the top ten annoying things for motorists. In this survey, riding at night without lights was the bike rider behaviour that was most annoying for drivers.

Visit the article below here:

A roadside survey conducted in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney has revealed that thousands of bike riders are riding at night without proper lights.

The study which logged 1,220 riders on roads after sunset in the four centres showed that 65% of riders had both lights, 17% had only one light and 19% had no lights.

The study revealed some differences between the centres.

  • Brisbane had the most riders with lights. 76% had both lights. 11% had only one light and 13% had no lights.
  • In Sydney 69% of riders had lights. Only 11% had no lights - the lowest number nationally.
  • In Canberra 68% of riders observed had both lights and 80% had at least one light.
  • Melbourne riders were least compliant. Only 59% had both lights and 22% had none.

"These results are very disappointing, giving us an indication of what is happening all around the country. The steady growth in bike riding across Australia is a positive thing, but now there are thousands of people who are putting themselves at risk by riding without lights at night," Harry Barber, spokesperson for the National Light Up! campaign run by member based bike riding organisations across Australia, said.

"Bike lights prevent collisions. Everyone who rides on the roads at night must fit them to warn other road users and protect themselves," Mr Barber said.

"We are asking for police bike patrols across Australia to help us encourage everyone who rides at night to have working lights," he said.

"Bike lights today are relatively cheap and so much better than they used to be. There really is no excuse not to have them if you are riding at night," Mr Barber said.

A test of widely available bicycle lights conducted with Choice magazine and representatives from the police, the RACV, road authority and bicycle retailers and riders showed that you can get a great set of lights for $60.

BQ members can pick up an adequate set of commuting lights for $36 from BQ.

BQ membership details here:

Safety First: a city that understands

The TBUG Hazard Inspection Team (HIT) will keep pressing on with the task of logging Toowoomba's danger points for road users.

Of course, our HIT squad will focus on the dangers to cyclists but if the road is safer for cyclists it has to be safer for drivers too, so we all win.

In the meantime, in other cities there are planners who do try to make a real difference.

Some live here in Australia, some overseas.

Where BUG supporters find examples of forward thinking we can post links here, for all to read.

To kick this off, have a look at these links below:

This is a link to read about 'Portland Boxes' in Portland, Oregan, USA. A 'Portland Box' is a simple idea that allows space for bicycles at traffic lights, placing riders ahead of the vehicles where all can see them. This is well worth a visit and a few questions to the new TRC about trialling them here:

This is a page from the City of Portland explaining what a Portland Box is:

This is a snapshot article:

This provides a small slide show of the development of the Portland Box:

Please take some time to look at these pages too.

Michael Yeates is known to the people who started the T-BUG some years ago. Michael came and spoke to Toowoomba cyclists about how to organise to create a better city environment for cycling. Perhaps it's time to ask him back?

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Only in Toowoomba: the question begging to be asked is 'why?'

Where, but in a major regional Australian city, could a brand new (but far too narrow) cycle lane end at the point where it could easily be extended for another couple of miles?

Should the rider of this recumbent have parked and walked the rest of his way, or should he have been allowed to continue in this massive, safe, empty space that just begs to be marked off as a cycle lane?

Far more important to provide parking space where no one needs to park, so it seems.

On yer planners.

New roundabout: accident waiting to happen

The recently completed roundabout at Anzac Avenue, Hursley Road and Holberton Streets is an accident waiting to happen, according the Toowoomba Bicycle Users Group (T-BUG).

Following a complaint to the group from a Toowoomba cyclist, a working party of T-BUG cyclists, the hazard inspection team, spent Sunday 20 April conducting a site inspection, taking photographs and traffic lane measurements.

Their verdict?

It would appear that hundreds of thousands of rate and tax dollars have been spent speeding-up the vehicle traffic, when it should be slowing down at such a major intersection, and the humble bicycle has never once been considered by the planners.

Road safety for all road users, which should be the starting point of all road design, has been totally neglected, according to the T-BUG hazard inspectors.

At no point, on any approach to the roundabout, can any cycle logos be found painted on the road. No road space has been allocated for bicycles, rather, it has all been devoted to motor vehicles.

Traffic on Anzac Avenue, going towards James Street, is funnelled into a high-speed lane by-passing the need to negotiate the roundabout.

The lane is far too narrow to provide bicycles with the 1.25-1.5 metres required at 60 kph. With large concrete road dividers on one side and the curb on the other, coupled with the road rage some Toowoomba road users exhibit, this all ensures a bad outcome for a cyclist is not too far away.

A cyclist, coming from Holberton Street to James Street, has to make their move off the roundabout and attempt to cross this high speed Anzac Avenue traffic coming up on their left hand side.

During the T-BUG inspection, at a low traffic time of day, it was clear that car drivers are going far too fast in the available space to be able to accommodate slower moving cyclists, who are as entitled to the same road space as other road users.

T-BUG believes the Holy Grail of road design, the Austroads “Guide to Traffic Engineering Practice Part 14- Bicycles” has not been consulted.

Toowoomba’s new councillors are being asked to pay attention to this problem, left to them by their predecessors, and are invited to meet with T-BUG supporters, on site and with the TRC design team.

This lack of regard for cycle road safety cannot be repeated, and T-BUG supporters are aware Council is considering a similar massive road rearrangement at Hume and Stenner Streets, already the focus of much anger from many Hume Street residents.

Also inspected by the T-BUG hazard inspection team was the new Ruthven and Alderley Street intersection, where a dedicated cycle lane has been created.

Unfortunately, the “Part 14” requirement for cycle lanes has been ignored once again with the bike lane only 900mm wide at some points, and no provision made for bike lanes for left or right turning riders.

Going south, past the Shell garage towards Nellie Robinson Park, the cycle lane ends abruptly, where, with a little forethought, consultation, and good planning a full width bike lane could have been created.

T-BUG is lobbying for a full width cycle lane from Nelson Street to Highfields, a simple pioneer project to serve as the central spine to the much needed cycle infrastructure the new Toowoomba Regional Council, the Department of Main Roads and the Department of Transport need to be working together on, with T-BUG supporters.

There are National, State and Toowoomba Cycle Strategies, all designed to make cycling safer and more attractive as a legitimate form of transport, as well as “Austroads Part 14” to inform our road planners but, for some inexplicable reason, Toowoomba still suffers from “cycle blindness”, with Toowoomba cyclists under threat of severe injury and death as a result.

T-BUG urges all road users, not just cyclists, to lodge a Department of Transport Hazard Report on both the Anzac Avenue and the Ruthven-Alderley intersections with their local “Road safety-Hazards” team at Queensland Transport, PO Box 645, Toowoomba 4350, to ensure we can all start to share our roads safely.

The reporting form can be found at:

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Department of Transport forms and action

All cyclists in this BUG region should be aware of these Qld Department of Transport (DoT) forms:

The Toowoomba BUG team have just asked the DoT to recreate these forms in Word format so cyclists, and motorists for that matter, can fill them out and email them to the relevant person.

Unfortunately, the forms still have to be printed off and faxed or posted. Ultimately, we are suggesting to DoT that they be emailed; why would someone with the Internet in front of them want to print-and-post forms these days, after all?

However, we have managed to get a Toowoomba local address to post these forms to in the meantime. Please make sure you identify the 'hazard' or 'incident' element and preface that with the section that will deal with both, "Road safety":

Hazard Report

Addressed as below and sent to:

Road Safety – Hazard Report

Queensland Transport

PO Box 645

Toowoomba Q 4350


Incident Report

Addressed as below and sent to:

Road Safety – Incident Report

Queensland Transport

PO Box 645

Toowoomba Q 4350

It goes without saying, of course, that any breaking of the law or road accidents should be reported to the Police without delay.

Monday, 14 April 2008

20 April social ride

20 riders came on our last ride, where we welcomed Chris, Anne, Russell, Wayne, and Kevin.

The ride this month will be leaving from the Oxygen Cafe at 7:00 on Sunday 20 April.

The ride is 30km, along Taylor Street, through Charlton, past Wellcamp School, back of the Showgrounds, down South Street and back for coffee at the Oxygen.

As we will regroup a few times the faster riders may want to wait, loop back or do a lap around the town when they arrive back early.

We are aiming to keep our ride at a social pace (15 to 20 kph) so as to encourage all cyclists.

Bring tube or repair kit, water, pump, mobile, sun cream and some money.

Margaret-social ride convenor

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Keep cool equipment

This shoulder covering garment looks quite interesting. Take a trip to their web site and check it out.

Small Core Cooler: For personal cooling, fits adults with smaller shoulders. Comes in a variety of colors (yellow, red, blue, black, green), so please specify, but in reality color choices are probably limited. $49.95

The Core Cooler fits over your shoulders and around your neck. We sometimes think of it as the "thermal dickie" though the manufacturer likes to say "personal radiator." It is "charged" by soaking it in room-temperature water, which is absorbed by Polycrylamide crystals (non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and inert - these crystals are often used for water retention in landscaping). These crystals are compartmentalized over the body of the garment, with air channels running between the compartments. As your body heats up, the water absorbs the heat. The movement of air through the channels evaporates the warm water, carrying off the heat. These things really work, and we know this because the summers in Austin get hot.

The Core Cooler is easily donned and removed, and it is not necessary to remove one's shirt to do so. It has a slightly wet feel when first charged, but this quickly dissipates. Your upper body clothing will come out much dryer than without using a Core Cooler.

Made by 661, who normally makes gear for "extreme sports" people, the Core Cooler has been tested in demanding environments by fire fighters, athletes, and soldiers.
Accessories: Core Cooler, Small — $49.95 each.

Try their 'Sheik flap' too while you're there.

Where from?

Got your seat height right?

"Setting the correct seat height would seem to be such a fundamental part of cycling that you would have thought the boffins had agreed long ago on the best method. But you’d be wrong.

One thing all the experts agree on however is that if you get the height wrong, the effects can be catastrophic. A brand new study suggests that setting the height too low can decrease time to exhaustion by as much as 12 per cent.

Consequently cyclists with limited time on their hands might actually get more out of a shorter session by lowering their seats to a sub-optimal level so as to make it harder.

It’s an interesting theory, but even knowing how to get it wrong presupposes that you know how to get it right, and many don’t. Read on to find out exactly how to do it."

Read the whole article from the UKs Cycling Plus magazine here:

Cycle skills day April

Thanks go to the Toowoomba Triathlete Club for getting I-Ride to run the 'skills' day last Saturday at Jahnke Transport in Tait Street. Thanks to the Jahnke's too.

The training was two hours of building up from simple 'stopping' exercises, with tips on how to control the bike with cleated shoes on, to a more intense exercise where riders circled in pairs with an arm on-around (only if they were comfortable doing it) their partner. This built balance and trust... and was not to be repeated on the highway at all.

As an observer there, it was clear many riders were fairly new to riding, or newly returned after many years away, and certainly picked up new skills or understood better why something should, or should not, be done on a bike, on a road.

This is the sort of course we could encourage BUG riders to do if they are new to riding as a demonstration of our support for the 3Rs view of life-on-the-road.