Thursday, 29 September 2011

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.