The historic epicentre of my city is a peninsula, but a century of urban sprawl has shifted the geographical epicentre much further inland. Where the old city has been the focus of public transport, the logical (if unromantic) location for a main railway station, is out there in a place we lovingly call, “no place in particular”.
Now, we can cry about urban sprawl, and its detrimental impact on social cohesion, emissions, any genius loci, etc., or, we can let bikes be the sprawling city’s redemption. Just as it is better to retrofit a 1970s high rise building to give it a 3 or 4-star energy rating, than it is to knock down and replace it with something 5 or 6-star, sprawling cities aren’t quite ready for nuking. Gentlemen, we can rebuild them. We have the technology (bikes), and we can scrape together $6,000,000. Each will be better, stronger, and faster, than even Steve Austin.
But what can you get for six million smakas? Well, a hell of a lot of bike infrastructure (if you spend it judiciously), plus secure bicycle parking near your city’s geographically most central rail stop.
The bicycle loop I’m proposing be forged in my city, would put Broadmeadow station within half an hour, by bike, of most people’s homes. A trip to Sydney could begin with a bike ride to the station, where ones rail ticket would have embedded within the cost, a secure place to leave their own bike, plus free use of a bike-share when they hit the big smoke.
The Dutch have been leaders in the integration of bikes with trains. Instead of running longer trains, with whole carriages set aside only for bikes, they allow folding bikes on board their trains for no extra charge, and expect people with regular bikes will use different ones at either end of their journeys. I bought my own Bromton in Amsterdam, from the shop I presume is responsible for the half dozen Brommies you see on every train platform at Centraal Station. Most of the other passengers would have just left their bike at the cheap secure parking bay, or else chained an old one to rack, and would have other bikes of some kind waiting for them at their destination. The system is explained at 2mins30 in the video above, from the Dutch Cycling Embassy:
Tom Hatton’s vision for a secure bike parking facility here in our city, borrows the faceted glass look of Jean Nouvel’s 100 11th Ave apartments in New York, that he has used to sex up an inverted “eco-cycle” bike parking system, as used in Japan. It seems fitting in countries where cycling is perceived as low class, that infrastructure built for it, be especially prestigious in style:
The old spur line that takes passenger trains to the old city centre, has long been earmarked for removal. As someone who lives in the city, I’m none too pleased, personally, about drivers calling for its removal, because it stops them with an occasional boom-gate. But when I shallow my pride, I can see the folly of leading heavy rail to the end of a peninsular. Replacing it with light rail, along a pedestrian/biking greenway, does make some sense. And if that were to happen, god I hope the route at least to gives cycling precedence over cars where they cross, and can be lined with bike parking, and bike-share pods. A bike-share scheme, in this particular Australian city, will fare well in the face of mandatory helmets laws: we ignore most every law anyway.