Is it drivers killing cyclists, or politicians?

Australian infrastructure policy makers and officials killed almost 50 cyclists in 2013. Relative to the size of our population, that’s worse than the UK. The last victim of infrastructure policy for 2013 was Lewis Hendey, just 21 years old, from my own suburb. He went to my son’s school. He was hit on a section of highway I am forced to use too.

Why are highways the only ways leading out of most cities? Why aren’t there cycleways flanking our rivers? Why aren’t there cycleways following rail easements too? Who is funding the political campaigns of our politicians, on the proviso that infrastructure budgets all go toward supporting driving? Is it oil companies? Car dealers? Car insurers? Whoever they are, they play hardball. They pay politicians to kill us if we don’t use their products.

About Steven

I'm on a mission to put cycling on the agendas of architects, urban designers and fellow academics, who see the potential for bicycles to change cities and buildings. My PhD is in architectural history and my interdisciplinary research spans art theory, philosophy and cultural studies. I teach architectural history and theory and design studio at The University of Tasmania, Australia, and formerly worked as an architect designing large public housing projects in Singapore.
This entry was posted in Behooving Moving, 1000+ blog posts since 2009. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Is it drivers killing cyclists, or politicians?

  1. James says:

    There are some shared pathways following rail easements near where I live. The track is narrow, the surface is often made lumpy by tree roots and poorly maintained, litered with broken glass, sticks and leaves, and you have to dodge the pedestrians with their dogs and little tiny tots with training wheels. For me and most other competent riders, it’s safer and more practicable riding on the road.

    If you’re going to call for infrastructure, it’s gotta be no worse than the road for *every* bicycle rider to use, and if it is worse for some riders, you must also campaign to repeal the law mandating that infrastructure must be used when available.

    • Steven says:

      The example in your mind is some short, insignificant trail that doesn’t mean a lot to many cyclists. I’m talking about off-road bicycling arteries that are continuous and connect many suburbs. Where these are built they un-tap a huge demand for safe infrastructure among that 60% of the population who, when surveyed, say they would ride if they had a place to ride that is away from the cars.

    • James says:

      Aw c’mon, Steven, you know what I’m talking about. *IF* infrastructure was built the way you describe it, it would be good to use. Sadly the majority of what gets passed for bicycling infrastructure in this country is barely useful. In the meantime, I don’t want to *have* to use poorly designed and maintained paths.

    • Steven says:

      But you don’t have to. You’re always free to ride on the road, aren’t you?

    • James says:

      Road Safety Road Rules 2009
      S.R. No. 94/2009

      247 Riding in a bicycle lane on a road
      (1) The rider of a bicycle riding on a length of road
      with a bicycle lane designed for bicycles
      travelling in the same direction as the rider must
      ride in the bicycle lane unless it is impracticable to
      do so.
      Penalty: 3 penalty units.

      Now one would hope that this would not be extended to bicycle paths that run along side a road, but a police person may interpret it that way and you would need to fight to have a fine cancelled.

      What do you suppose happens when it is a Copenhagen bike lane? Is that technically on the road, or part of the footpath? My guess is that it is part of the road and not using it may get you a fine.

      Where is “impracticable” defined? I would test the definition I think.

    • James says:

      I should add…

      (2) In this rule—
      road does not include a road related area.
      Note
      Road related area includes the shoulder of a road—
      see rule 13.

  2. cyclesnail says:

    Where we spend our transport dollars today determines how we travel in 25 years. Unfortunately politicians are restricted to a four-year horizon. Want to get re-elected? Spend money on car infrastructure.

    • Felix Alexander says:

      Back in the olden days, when pollies were restricted to three year horizons, car drivers were seen as reckless dangerous child-killing speed-demons who should be charged with crimes for each person they killed.

      Something changed before; it can change again.

Leave a Reply