June 05 2013

A Dangerous Ride: Why Melbourne’s Bike Lanes Are Not Promoting A Sustainable Commute

How we integrate cycling paths into developed cities can be challenging, as cities’ centuries-old built forms are having to be designed to appease the growing population of cyclists.

A Dangerous Ride: Why Melbourne's Bike Lanes Are Not Promoting A Sustainable Commute

Whether it be a Saturday morning along Port Phillip Bay or an early morning weekday ride along the picturesque St. Kilda Road, the role of cycling in Melbourne residents’ lives has grown exponentially in recent years. This widespread development has forced the city’s planners and urban designers to incorporate cyclists throughout the roads, streets, and avenues of the city’s environs. The results have seen a mismatched formation of paths that confuse and endanger the most simple of commutes:

  • Cycle Lanes that amalgamate into designated pedestrian paths or sidewalks;

  • Lanes positioned between 2 car lanes that forces the cyclist to indicate to the driver when they wish to turn;

  • The widespread design of cycle lanes in between lanes and parked cars instead of between footpaths and parked cars (so a buffer is created to minimize interaction with vehicle traffic); and

  • The inadequate cycling lane provided for Princess Bridge that is a busy access route for cyclists into the CBD and is the most dangerous for cyclists.

A Dangerous Ride: Why Melbourne's Bike Lanes Are Not Promoting A Sustainable Commute

Other issues revolve around the announcement by the State Government in June 2012 to cut $40 million from cycling infrastructure projects. This saw protests conducted at State Parliament by cyclists and Melburnians alike as cycling initiatives had been historically under-resourced.

Further aggravating residents has been the installation of the expensive BikeShare system that has been unsuccessfully implemented throughout urban Melbourne. The city’s inability to provide an affordable or convenient BikeShare system has not only been an embarrassing reflection on our city’s town planning, but also been a significant waste of resources that could have been allocated to more pressing cycling-oriented projects such as providing cycle paths for each street within the CBD (a badly needed development).

Though we do not wish to be the next Amsterdam or Copenhagen, Melburnians do hope that the government can assist their cyclists in dealing with the obstacles of our densifying city.

How cycle-friendly is your city?  How has your government responded to its exponential growth in cyclists?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Steven Petsinis

Steven Petsinis is an Urban Planning graduate from Melbourne, Australia. He has been involved in Urban Research and Development projects in Medellin, Colombia and Saigon, Vietnam and is currently pursuing his masters in Melbourne, Australia. His main interests lie in land use and social planning, sustainability, as well as studies involving globalization and it's effect on third world communities. He has recently spent one year travelling throughout North and South America, as well as Europe, where he has gathered material and inspiration for his upcoming blogs for The Grid.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 5th, 2013 at 9:43 am and is filed under Infrastructure, Land Use, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “A Dangerous Ride: Why Melbourne’s Bike Lanes Are Not Promoting A Sustainable Commute”

  1. Christie Says:

    Barcelona’s Bicing shared bike system is encouraging, user friendly with many local people commuting on short trips. The bike lanes along are well defined amongst the pedestrian paths and roads – major thoroughfares have bike lanes through a centre median strip, or otherwise a dedicated shoulder along a road. The number of cyclists within the city is significant – helmets are not mandatory which perhaps makes cycling more accessible. There 6.000 bicycles, 420 stations, 122.000 subscribers, 47.200 daily uses, 180 km of bicycle lanes network within the city.

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