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Bikes versus cars: time to end the 'hysteria'

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Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood has called for people to stop “getting hysterical about cars versus bikes” and embrace projects like the Frome Street bikeway.

His call for “calm and common sense” comes following a divided reaction to the Adelaide City Council’s planned separated bikeway for Frome Street, which will see it lose one lane of traffic in each direction.

“Instead of everyone getting hysterical about cars versus bikes we all need a light bulb moment that says an integrated transport system is in the best interest of vehicle drivers, delivery trucks, business owners and residents because it will tackle the future of congestion,” Yarwood told InDaily.

“People who are saying one lane in Frome Street will generate more congestion, if we don’t get some people who live close to the city riding bikes, congestion in two lanes is inevitable anyway because we aren’t providing an alternative to just driving a car.”

Yarwood has been a vocal proponent for cycling in the CBD, but it seems he can not bridge the vocal divide between some motorist and cyclists.

He has been criticised for the Frome Street plan and others which seek to promote alternative modes of transport, other than cars.

“This is the best long-term strategy for minimising the very congestion those people are angry about even though it is counter intuitive to what they think the solution is,” he said.

“I’m challenging them to realise this is the very solution to solve future congestion.”

He said he wanted to tackle the long-term implications of congestion by providing choice.

“I’m not asking people who don’t want to ride to choose cycling, I’m asking those who have the capacity to do so to consider it.”

Responding to the Frome Street plans, Bike SA chief executive Christian Haag agreed that motorists should be happy because this type of infrastructure would reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

“For those people who concerned that Frome Street is a log jam already and once it’s down to one lane it’ll be worse, it’s ridiculous …. We can’t build more roads to take more cars [in the city].”

Haag believed the apparent divide between motorists and cyclists was the result of a vocal minority.

“The community wants to take a bike instead of a car but it’s the vocal minority who are expressing concerns,” he said..

“We are in currently in process of formulating a road safety campaign that will start to address the issue of inattentiveness on motorists’ behalf and encourage and provide information about the benefit of more people cycling and ensure cyclists understand their responsibilities as road users.”

The RAA, which represents motorists, was initially sceptical about the Frome Street bikeway, but admitted the city needed better cycling infrastructure.

It will meet with the council to discuss the bikeway plans in the coming weeks.

“We have reservations until we see the detail, their plans and what their traffic modelling is saying,” said the RAA’s Mark Borlace.

“I think what they are doing is right; we do need decent cycling infrastructure in the city and if it does work those people who do use bikes will be coming out of cars so there will be less cars there.”

But Borlace said there must be a balance into the future with cycling infrastructure and congestion.

“You can’t take half the capacity out of that road and expect it will have not an effect on congestion.”

The RAA was concerned about the roll-out of more bike lanes in the CBD including the next phase of the Frome Street bikeway from Pirie St to North Terrace.

Borlace said there was also concern that the Frome example could be rolled out on other CBD roads, making a “recipe for congestion”.

“We need an elegant solution to get more on bikes safer routes and also so that those who have to pick up kids or whatever are able to do it so we aren’t stuck like Melbourne and Sydney in these horrible traffic jams.”

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