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Safety the key to getting more people on bikes

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While a solution is being developed for the Adelaide City Council’s Frome Street bikeway, designers are just as focused on what’s happening at either end.

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The State Government and the council say the key to increasing the number of regular cycle commuters is to provide a safe and enjoyable ride to and from the CBD, not just through it.

ACC’s Associate Director Design and Strategy, Daniel Bennett, points to the recent “significant improvements” to the established route that follows Porter and Rugby streets through the inner southern suburbs to Mitcham and Belair.

“These were always wide residential streets but they’ve now put in the infrastructure that makes it a bikeway – signage, crossovers and two new sets of traffic lights for safely crossing Greenhill Road and Cross Road,” he said. “It’s a level and low stress ride and it links directly into the Frome bikeway.”

There are similar plans to the north, with an extended Frome Street bikeway to link with a route through North Adelaide and then to Braund Road in Prospect.

An east-west bikeway through the CBD is also planned as part of the $12 million joint City Bikeways project announced by the State Government and ACC in July. As reported by InDaily, three east-west options are currently being considered – Wakefield/Grote, Flinders/Franklin and Pirie/Waymouth.

Bennett says the decision will be based in part on which option best links up with established or proposed bike routes bringing cyclists into the edge of the city from the east and west, as well as the uplift and potential economic benefits provided by streetscape improvements.

“As with the North-South Corridor we are trying to link in with where people choose to ride and where councils have put resources into developing infrastructure,” he said. “It’s more than just putting a route on a map.”

Just over 10,000 bike riders enter and leave the CBD between 7am and 7pm each work day, more than double the number in 2003. As part of their Carbon Neutral Adelaide Plan released in November, the State Government and the ACC plan to double that number again by 2020.

Marg Howard, the Manager of Safer Travel and Behaviour Change with the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, says it’s an ambitious but achievable target and that evidence from interstate and overseas suggests Adelaide is on the right track with a strategy that includes dedicated bike infrastructure, a point-to-point public bike sharing scheme and secure bike facilities at train stations.

“There is no single answer; it’s about partnerships and broad thinking,” she said. “Government and councils providing infrastructure, businesses making it easier for people to choose to bike ride by having showers and a secure place to leave bikes.

“To get a lot more people bike riding we need to cater for those who would like to but feel concerned about riding in traffic. Simply marking bike lanes on roads caters for those who are confident. We need to think about those who want more separation from cars and trucks.”

Bennett agrees, saying research suggests as much as 60% of the population would consider riding if it was “easy and low stress”.

“We are not focusing on the 10% of riders who are the keen riders in lycra or even on the 10% of everyday riders who are comfortable riding now,” he said. “We want to provide alternatives for the 50-60% of riders who just don’t want to battle trams, buses and reversing cars on King William Street[b1] .”

Howard says the decision to give bike riders priority at some busy city intersections has been a success and is an indication of what can be achieved by helping bike riders to deal with difficult situations.

A survey found that with the introduction of new laws for safe passing distances and allowing bike riders to share footpaths, cyclists have reported feeling safer when riding.

Similarly, the success of the “cycle instead” online journey planner (http://maps.sa.gov.au/cycleinstead/),  which allows bike riders to find the best route between any two points, highlights how responsive they are to initiatives that make riding less stressful.

The Carbon Neutral Adelaide Plan has a target of developing “a comprehensive and integrated network of bikeways that connect Adelaide, North Adelaide and surrounding suburbs” by 2021.

Completing the second stage of the Frome Bikeway is a priority and, as InDaily has reported, ACC has created models of three possible options at Park 23 in the south parklands, adjacent to ANZAC Highway. Feedback already is being received, following a first public open day in early December.

To find out more about the City Bikeways Project go here.

Solstice Media has partnered with the South Australian Government to provide information about the transition to a low-carbon economy. Read more stories like this here.

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