Locals across Australia are being asked to join Bicycle Network’s latest campaign ‘Low Speed Locals‘ to introduce lower speeds in neighbourhoods where bike riders, pedestrians and drivers share the roads.

Low Speed Locals is calling on Australian bike riders and other road users to write to their local council’s Chief Executive Officer or Councillor and ask for slower speed limits, or, work on streets which would slow down traffic.

What good is lower speed limits?

Vehicles are killing,  maiming,  injuring, too many Geelong riders!

“Pedestrians and cyclists struck by a motor vehicle travelling at 50 km/h have about an 85% chance of being killed, while at 30 km/h this drops to 10% (WHO 2008).”

Source the heart foundation report.

Dropping speed limits just 10km/hr in busy areas like schools and shopping strips will reduce the risk of injury.

What you can do:

Bicycle Users Geelong have made an email template to help you make your roads safer –  follow the steps:

  1. Copy an paste the text below into a new email. To: councillor@geelongcity.vic.gov.au (find out who is your councillor to refer to them by name)
  2. Replace the ‘XX’ with existing and desired speed limits of the street you want changed.
  3. Add the name and contact details,
  4. Customise the message  – make sure your message includes what matters to you!

———————————–

Dear Councillor Name,

I am a {your suburb} resident.

I am concerned about the safety of {STREET NAME}, particularly the speed that vehicles travel… I feel safety would be improved and lives saved if the speed limit was reduced from {XX}km/hr to {XX}km/hr so locals can feel confident riding and walking.

Please consider my request and happy to discuss this further. I appreciate your time an support for safer roads.

Your name
Address
Suburb
Mobile number

———————————————–

Bellarine rail trail chicanes

Sign our petition to get the Bellarine rail trail chicanes fixed… We’ll get it to Geelong Councillors.

We speak to many cyclist about need to remove the existing narrow and unsafe chicanes.  This would encourage more riders, allow cargo bikes, tandem bikes, and touring bike to get past them. Even parents pushing prams have difficulty. A new treatment like this bike safe photo is what we are advocating.

Read the background to the problematic Chicanes on the Bellarine Rail Trail.

traffic-pollution

Below is  submission to the City of Greater Geelong Environment Management Strategy draft. Let us know what you think.


We recommend important changes to page 21 of the draft –  this part particularly:

Transport

  • Influence – Number of bicycle riders counted on ‘Super Tuesday’ (held annually in March) Increase
  • Influence – Length of dedicated bicycle paths Increase
  • Influence – Number of school bus users (from Department Education records) Increase

Increasing the number of people who bike, walk or use the bus has many important social and environmental impacts. However, the targets for transport in thisstrategy are not well defined. I believe CoGG could achieve these targets without effort –  Greater Geelong’s strong population growth (say an increase of 2,000 – 3,000 people) would almost guarantee:

  • a few more bike riders on super tuesday
  • a few more kids on a school bus
  • and a few more metres of asphalt on the end of a bike path.

Our suggestions below aim to give the targets defined goals (our changes/additions in red):

Transport

1.       Influence – Number of bicycle riders counted on ‘Super Tuesday’ (held annually in March), ‘Ride to Work Day’ and from the ABS ‘journey to work’ statistics – 5% increase

An  ‘increase’ of just one rider per year on super Tuesday could indicate a target reached for the sustainable transport. But it would only be a indicator of business as usual –  our aims have to be concrete. If 1000 people ride on ‘super tuesday’, we should try to get 1050. We need a defined number increase to drive an effort to achieve. Also we need to measure other data… One count on one day cannot be an indicator growth in active transport. There is more data that should be included eg: ABS journey to work data.

2.       Influence Direct – Length of dedicated bicycle paths established by CoGG  – 5% Increase

CoGG are directly responsible for the provision of bike lanes on COGG roads and all off-road bike paths… We should increase and measure bike lanes on roads projects funded(part or fully) by CoGG. Vicroads funded projects should not be included as an indicator. This way we measure CoGG contribution to actual enhancements to bike paths.

An ‘increase’ that can be just 10 meters can count as a successful –  this would not be doing the environment justice…  We need to make targets clear. An extra 10 km of off-road paths(5% increase) or on-road lanes is not out of reach.

4.       Influence – Number of school bus users (from Department Education records/PTA) Increase

There is no need to only target kids on school bus journeys. An ageing population will benefit from a useful bus service. Journey to work by drivers are regular trips that people could get into the habit of catching the bus if it was quick, easy or cheaper. Measurements have to really specific – It’s no good increasing bus trips when can trips increase two fold.

5.       Influence – number or trips by vehicle  – % decrease

  • For this strategy to move to increase low carbon mobility. An indicator of success would be the reduction in single vehicle trips (10 more bike trips is meaningless for lowering emission if we have 1000 more car trips).

Example: ABS journey to work data for Greater Geelong in 2006-2011 (cited in the CoGG annual report for ‘increasing active transport’) had this result;

      • 5 less people walking to work
      • 19 more people riding to work
      • 319 more bus users
      • 6,655 more car trips to work…  

If transport stats for 2013-2017 were similar, we would be increasing emissions and speeding up climate change.

In Melbourne in 2006, motor vehicle emissions were 72 per cent of all carbon monoxide (CO) emissions says the EPA. Assuming Geelong’s vehicles are our largest carbon emitter, it should be one of the highest priorities for this strategy. An optimistic vehicle transport reduction target must be set.

I realise this could be very difficult to achieve, but it should not stop us from confronting the one of the largest problems the world is facing.

happinesscyclelogoThe Happiness Cycle is a national initiative to encourage teenagers to become more physically active.

As part of the initiative, a workshop will be held in Geelong at the Barwon Valley Activity Centre near the Belmont Criterium Track on Saturday February 8th.  The workshop will involve the assembly of a new free bike for the participants, before a ride on the criterium track.

Geelong teenagers who are 15 or 16 years old can take part by registering at www.thehappinesscycle.com.au

Myers st remix

After spending some time on Geelong today, I noticed that Myers st has some much hot, wasted and un-used asphalt… not to mention the unsafe bike lane.

Below is my remixed version of the street.  I used paint, separated bike riders from cars, trees for cooling and was careful not to lose any parking… let me know what you think.

myers-st-remix

The Bellarine Rail Trail is a great asset to the Geelong and Bellarine community, providing tourism and health benefits to the region.

Being built on former railway right-of-way, rail trails are attractive to cyclists because of the gentle slopes and minimal road intersections.   This is true of the BRT, and it is becoming more attractive as improvements are made to the trail and adjoining facilities, but one feature of the BRT is unnecessarily holding it back: the safety and access issues caused by the narrow chicanes that a trail user has to go through at many road intersections.

BRT Chicane

Chicane on BRT at Moolap Station Rd: Can you see the path created by all the trail users avoiding this chicane?

The BRT chicanes pose safety and access issues because the sharp turns that a cyclist is forced to do through the narrow openings.  Balancing a bike at slow speed around these bends can be very challenging, particularly for less experienced cyclists, and if they fall they could easily collide with the heavy wooden posts and rails that make up the chicanes.

The tight bends also cause access issues for those riding something a little different.  Tandems, bikes with trailers or trail-a-bikes, loaded touring bikes, recumbents and cargo bikes/trikes typically cannot be ridden through the chicanes.  Normally, families and tourists are big users of rail trails, but these are the two groups that mostly use these types of bikes (trailers, touring bikes).

BRT Chicane

Bike with trailers and many other bikes cannot be ridden through the BRT chicanes.

Commuters are another type of cyclist that might use the BRT, with it providing a very direct route from Drysdale and Leopold into Geelong, and the only alternative being two highways.  Anyone reading recent news about how bad Geelong drivers can be (speeding, using their phones or driving whilst drug or alcohol affected), might not want to use the highways.  But the chicanes hinder a cyclist’s progress on the trail and discourage some commuters using it.  Considering the health and transport issues the Geelong region has, we should be encouraging people to use bikes for transport; not putting up road blocks.

The chicanes were presumably built with the aim of keeping trail bikes out and/or as a safety measure for cyclists, slowing them down as they approach a road intersection.  In practice, the success of the chicanes with regard to these aims is very debatable.  Trail bikes can still get through the chicanes, and there are many other places that they can gain access to the trail such as unfenced areas and gates that are often left unlocked.  The chicanes may not provide a net safety benefit to cyclists, with the attention of cyclists taken from any cars that may be on the road so that they can safely negotiate their way through the chicanes, and if they fall whilst doing this manoeuvre then they are likely to collide with the heavy wooden chicanes.

BRT Chicane

This chicane has the added obstacle of a steel stop sign post .

There is a design standard for this type of infrastructure from Austroads and Vicroads.  See Vicroads Cycle Notes No. 17 “Terminal Treatments for Off-Road Paths”. The staggered fence treatment, which the BRT chicanes resemble, is suggested to have a minimum distance between the first and second fence of 3 metres. This is significantly more than all of the older chicanes on the BRT (more than double in most cases).

The City of Greater Geelong Cycle Strategy even refers to Vicroads Cycle Notes No. 17 for guidance (p. 67, Table 7 – Network toolkit, Terminal treatment for off road shared paths).

Bicycle Users Geelong has been advising the Bellarine Rail Trail Advisory Committee for years that the chicanes are an issue, but they don’t seem to want to take notice.  The BRTAC has overseen many improvements to the trail and plan many more improvements, but none of this includes bringing the chicanes up to standard.   It would seem that the BRTAC is unconcerned with making the BRT safe and accessibly to the main users of rail trails.

In recent years, a program of widening of the bitumen surfaces around some of the chicanes has made them safer for some cyclists. But this is more of a band-aid fix than a solution as the access issues remain.

Bicycle Users Geelong wants the chicanes of the Bellarine Rail Trail, and any other substandard chicanes on other shared paths in the Geelong Region, removed or brought up to standard.  This will improve access to the trail and make it safer for cyclists, leading to more locals and tourists making use of and enjoying the great asset that the Bellarine Rail Trail is.

What are your thoughts on the chicanes on the Bellarine Rail Trail?  Post a comment and let us know.