Sunday, 7 March 2010

Cycling in Melbourne

The number of cyclists on Melbourne's roads has soared by up to 50 per cent during peak hour in the past year, according to new figures.

Initial figures revealed increases of between 12 and 50 per cent on routes across the city, Bicycle Victoria spokesman Garry Brennan said.


Victorian cyclists experienced a particularly bad day on the roads, with paramedics called to 14 separate accidents in 24 hours yesterday - seven of them in just one hour.

Cyclists were left with broken arms and collarbones in the accidents, most of which occurred in morning peak hour.

The youngest injured was a six-year-old boy who suffered bruising swelling to his forehead, while the oldest was an 87-year-old man who injured his leg when he fell from his bike.

"We know there are collisions and crashes on a frequent basis involving bikes," Mr Brennan said.

"Many of them don't involve cars, people might just fall off."

Eh? Not many, surely.

But he said it was natural that the number cycling injuries would rise in line with a jump in the number of people taking up cycling.

Crikey, hasn’t he heard there’s safety in numbers?

But wait! Here’s an expert:

Marilyn Johnson, a researcher at Monash University’s Accident Research Centre, said the rate of cycling accidents generally declined when the cycling population increased.

In countries such as the Netherlands - where a 2009 government study found bicycles are used for a quarter of all journeys - the sheer number of cyclists meant they were easily visible.

This is the sort of guff the CTC peddles. But it’s not about numbers or visibility. It’s about safe infrastructure.

However, this bit’s true:

‘‘Drivers (in the Netherlands) are also likely to also be cyclists themselves, so they know know how much space a cyclist needs on the road,’’ she said.

‘‘Our drivers don’t necessarily expect to see cyclists and don’t have an understanding of what it means to be a cyclist.’’

And then more tosh:

Ms Johnson said many European countries were also well equipped with cycle paths and other cycling facilities, resulting in fewer injuries.

Many? I can only think of two, the Netherlands and Denmark. But even these countries have radical variations in cycling modal share, entirely related to infrastructure.

Or perhaps Ms Johnson is thinking of the legendary Shangri-la that is the London Borough of Waltham Forest, with its forty miles of cycle lanes and ‘quiet routes’. Casualty figures for cyclists are quite low. But then again that’s because hardly anybody cycles.