Thursday, 29 September 2011

Cyclists or cyclers: both need space on the roads

The veteran Bedford truck on Hume Street has an intriguing sign on the back urging drivers to give cyclers a metre free space when passing.

The owner, James, says he deliberately used an old term to describe bike riders, taken from the early days of ‘cycles’, when people who rode ‘a cycle’ were widely known as ‘cyclers’ and not ‘cyclists’.

“We have ‘drivers’ not ‘drivists’ and ‘swimmers’ not ‘swimists’, so I saw no reason not to stick with one of the original phrases that described people who rode the ‘cycles’ of those days, which it does as well today as it did in the 1870s,” James said.

But what of this request for a one metre space when passing?

Mr. David Allworth, spokesperson for the Toowoomba Bicycle Users Group (TBUG), says that although the Queensland Highway Code advises at least a one metre space when passing, it does not mandate any distance.

“The Amy Gillet Foundation is running a very successful public education campaign, ‘A Metre Matters’, that calls on all road users to leave at least a one metre space, from the elbow of the bike rider, when passing.”

“The Queensland Government refuses to legislate to protect bike riders on this minimum level of safety and have been less than helpful in making Queensland roads safer for all road users, not just bike riders, by allowing road speeds that are far too high by modern standards,” Mr. Allworth said.

“The TBUG is not convinced that bike lanes are the first priority for cycling safety, when distance between the vehicle and bicycle coupled with speed are the two key issues that need to be addressed first,” Mr. Allworth said.

“We have seen Toowoomba Regional Council and the Department of Transport and Main Roads marking out bike lanes in recent years but they do it to a very low standard.

“Many times, bicycle lanes are narrower than they need to be and all too often just end abruptly, throwing the cyclist into ever more dangerous situations,” Mr. Allworth said.

“The sign on the back of the truck is a very simple message for a very dangerous and far too fast road, Hume Street, but it applies to all roads in Toowoomba.

“It is really not much to ask, and helps to provide a modest safety margin where the state government and local council have decided to opt out of increased road safety,” Mr. Allworth said.

Amy Gillett Foundation:

Safe road speeds in Europe:

Toowoomba bike lanes a death risk

Recently, a local solicitor, Mr. Bill Munro of Trilby Misso, was quoted in the Courier Mail saying that the bike lanes in Toowoomba are "dangerous and non-compliant with the latest national guidelines".

It seems that the 2011 guidelines for bike lanes require "shared bicycle-car-parking areas should include a 40cm to 1m safety strip to prevent cyclists being hit by car doors, or swerving into traffic to miss them".

If only that were available here in Toowoomba but sadly TBUG is not aware there are any on either TRC or TMR bike lanes, nor do we believe that the lanes provided begin by considering the primary safety of the cycler.

Cr. Carol Taylor, in commenting on the Margaret Street bike lane featured in the story, simply said "The lane pictured met all standards when designed."

Did they indeed?

The TBUG has written to each of the TRC councillors, the Mayor and CEO to ask them to 'smarten up' somewhat and begin to take a greater interest in their responsibility to implement the Queensland Cycle Strategy that has just been released.

TBUG hopes to meet with Mr. Bill Munro to discuss our concerns about the bike lanes going in around Toowoomba, which TBUG believes are not designed primarily with safe road use in mind, and certainly not with any consultation with any of the myriad forms of cycling that take place here.

TBUG and all the other cycling groups in Toowoomba have formed a single voice, the Regional Cycle Alliance, to make it easier for both TMR and TRC to consult with cyclers.

Towards the end of the article Mr. Ben Wilson, from Bicycle Queensland in Brisbane, was asked to comment on the bike lane situation here.

Ben Wilson, of Bicycle Queensland, said cyclists would always like to have wider bike lanes, but the "addition of bike lanes was a safety bonus".

Well Ben, perhaps you need to visit Toowoomba and try out your 'safety bonus' lanes?

TBUG can lend you a tandem so you and Cr. Carol Taylor can see for yourselves just what a bonus our bike lanes are.

Just in case you are not able to get up the hill though, we have posted some of our 'safety' lanes for you below this story.

Read the full Courier Mail article here:

Toowoomba's shortest and widest bike lane: very useful indeed and a real bonus.

Baker Street bike lane and car parking facility. TRC provides bike lanes for cars to park in most of the day and all weekend. Thoughtful, practical and safe, although not very wide.

Ah, perhaps TRCs most thoughtful section of bike lane on Drayton Road? While cars are allowed to remain on the bitumen to negotiate the roundabout, bikes are shunted off into a car park siding. Too bad if you want to go straight ahead to Platz Street.

This is a TMR master stroke. Millions of tax dollars were spent on making Ruthven Street safer and faster for cars and trucks, while bikes had to make do with BAZ signs (not supported by TMR except on this brand new work). TBUG lobbied for some safety equity at this unsafe-for-bikes new junction and after the request was filtered through unknown desks, TMR decided that it would be a good idea to have a green safety strip here, for bikes, but they had to share it with cars. Well, it is 'the smart state' after all!

A shot of the most favoured car parking spot in Australia. This trailer has been welded to the road for months and TRC have decided that the bike lane will just have to go around it. But wait! Should there be a 'Lane Ends' sign just before the trailer with a new sign showing the start of another section in front of it? Well, it must have been legal or TRC would never have done it, and after all, it is a safety bonus isn't it?

This one is a real safety bonus Ben. Angle parking on the TRC section, while the traffic flows on the TMR road. TBUG has asked TMR, about two years ago, to resolve the issue of 'shared roads' and rid us all of a bike lane that is about 9 inches wide when a car is angled parked but clearly, it is not seen as a safety risk. TBUG does not regard it as a bonus though.

If TBUG could find a good example of a well designed and thoughtful piece of road engineering, it would have been posted here too, as an example of how bike lanes should be laid down, but we have yet to find a suitable bike lane in Toowoomba.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Ride to Work: TBUG Freewheelers Challenge Trophy up for grabs

Bicyclists employed at Disability Services Queensland are working to keep the title of Toowoomba's “Best Represented” workplace at this year’s Ride to Work, which is to be held nationally on Wednesday, 12 October, when they aim to retain the Toowoomba Bicycle Users Group (TBUG) “Freewheelers Trophy”.

“Catch us if you can” is the challenge put out by Disability Services, a division of Department of Communities, to all other Toowoomba workplaces.

Across the nation, thousands of bike riders register for Ride To Work Day which is held every year in October, and some 20 percent of participants are new to cycling. The event is supported locally by the Toowoomba Bicycle Users Group (TBUG), Toowoomba Regional Council and other local businesses.

Co-ordinator of the TBUG, Mr David Allworth, is encouraging Toowoomba workplaces to get involved in 2011.

“Getting involved is easy. The day highlights the value of cycling to others as well as the need for it to be better catered for by all levels of government,” Mr. Allworth said.

“Workplaces simply need to appoint a workplace coordinator to register their workplace with the Ride To Work organisers on:

“Individuals also register their intention to ride to work that day, and automatically enter the competition for a new bike by registering here:

“Each workplace coordinator then encourages staff to ride on the day, and sends their rider tally, with a group photo if possible, to the judges at “ Mr. Allworth said.

“The workplace with the largest percentage of employees riding to work on 12 October will win the prestigious TBUG ‘Freewheelers Trophy’.

TBUG judges will select the winner and present the prize on the day, as the City Hall clock strikes 5.00 pm. ” Mr. Allworth said. The prize presentation get together will be at the nearby Oxygen Cafe, all welcome.

The staff at Disability Services have been encouraged to ride to work by Mr. Sandy Brown, who has been riding his faithful single-speed Speedwell bike for many years.
“Riding to work in Toowoomba just makes good sense given that it is not a large city to ride across but it can be a hard place to find a car park, particularly in the city centre,” Mr. Brown said.

“I don’t feel any need to buy special bike clothes. I just cycle in my work gear, like millions of people do in Europe.

“I save money on car parking, petrol, maintenance and gym fees, so it is very much a personal triple bottom line activity as far as I am concerned,” Mr. Brown said.

Ms. Anne Fallon, who also rides to work at Disability Services, said that riding to work had increased steadily over the last three years and staff were now agitating for an extra bike rack.

“When we won the TBUG Freewheelers Trophy last year it boosted interest among staff here. The more bike riders there are, just going where they need to go, the easier it will be for others to choose cycling as a commuting option,” Ms. Fallon said.

“If every workplace in Toowoomba encouraged their staff to ride to work, we could have a truly healthy city. For me, it’s a wonderful way to start and finish my workday. It clears the head and energises the body,” Ms. Fallon said.

Changed format for 2011: workplace volunteers needed

National Ride to Work Day – Wednesday 12 October 2011

It is on again – National Ride to Work Day, on Wednesday, 12 October.

It would be great if you could all encourage others to ride, both to increase the reasons for cycling to be better catered for and the many environmental and personal benefits cycling brings to us as individuals and as a community.

This year the format is to get as many people riding to their workplace, and then at 4.45pm to 5.30pm there will be prize presentations at Oxygen Cafe, corner of Ruthven and Little Street.

This should be a good social occasion, plus an opportunity to compare notes.

The Toowoomba BUG Freewheelers Trophy will be presented to the Best Cycling Workplace.

The judges' decision is always a hotly debated subject (but no correspondence or brown paper bags will be tolerated).

There will be other prizes for first time rider, best effort etc.

In previous years, we have had a breakfast in the centre of town.

But we have discovered that because people are on tight timetables and not all workplaces are in the centre of town, this year we are trying an post-work afternoon event to keep what has been a very enjoyable social component.

What we really need is workplace contacts who will volunteer to 'truthfully' count the number of people cycling to work and to text or email those in by 4pm.

Obviously we would also like those people to be encouraging others to ride where possible.

If you can be a bike count volunteer contact us at or mobile 0408 726 038.

Please get this message out amongst any bicycle networks and workplaces you belong to.

The Toowoowmba Regional Council is, as previously, contributing to the day with some resources – thanks to them for their assistance.

Ride To Work Day: Wednesday 12 October 2011

On 12 October 2011, tens of thousands of people will join the commuter revolution and ride to work. Will you?

It's the perfect opportunity for you to have a go at riding to work. Whether you are a new or existing commuter, by participating in Ride to Work Day and registering to make your ride count, you make an important contribution to building the case for better bike facilities in your community.

In 2010, more than 36,000 people participated in Ride to Work Day across Australia. Five months later, 43% of those new riders were still riding to work.

Join the commuter revolution and make your ride count. It's fast, free and makes a difference.