Monday, March 25, 2013

Cycling Princes Bridge bike lane a blunder Herald Sun Editorial

Bridge bike lane a blunder

CLOSING a traffic lane over Princes Bridge to make more room for cyclists is as silly as the antics of the "birdmen" who ride off the bridge each year at Moomba.
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Car chaos will be the result of the plan by Melbourne City Council to make the city more bike-friendly. Forcing traffic into a funnel over the bridge is likely to cause gridlock at the intersection of St Kilda Rd and Flinders St under the station clocks.
This became congested when the city council decided to block Swanston St to traffic and would become impassable during peak periods.
Clashes between drivers and cyclists promise to become even more heated. There is a better way for the council to resolve the danger to cyclists using the bridge. As reported in today's Herald Sun, 22 cyclists were injured in accidents on Princes Bridge between 2008 and 2010.
Melbourne City Council has $5.6 million in its current budget to improve the city's cycling network.
Why not use it to build a separate bicycle bridge across the Yarra? In two hours, from 7am to 9am, on its annual counting day earlier this month, Bicycle Network Victoria reported 1864 cyclists crossing the bridge.
A stand-alone bridge would mean no dangerous and life-threatening collisions between cars and cyclists and no congestion and frayed tempers.
This is supported by the RACV, which also questions the safety of reducing traffic over the bridge by a lane to be given over to cyclists.
RACV manager of public policy, Brian Negus, describes it as a "cheap option" and an "unacceptable proposal" in what is an already busy area.
This proposal will make it worse. Cars and cyclists are not a happy mix and while cars can be a lethal weapon when drivers are impatient and frustrated in traffic, cyclists are often to blame by shouting abuse at drivers and banging on car doors.
All road users are entitled to travel in safety, but Melbourne City Council needs to rethink what is a dangerous waste of money.

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