Friday, May 23, 2014

Cycling Beach Road Cycling Bayside Council Pete Dowe's Speech to: No Stopping Zones Trial May 8th 2012 Cycling Participation Public Liability

Speech to Bayside Council May 8th 2012 

re Beach Road Weekend Morning No Stopping Zones

by Pete Dowe

I wish to advocate in relation to the Route 33 Beach Road ‘No Stopping’ Trial Evaluation that if Bayside Council decides to grant an extension of No Stopping Zones I would recommend that No Stopping Zones be reviewed annually or every second year based on continued improvement in compliance with the Road Rules for Cyclists and Code of Conduct for Training Cyclists.

        Improvement in cyclist behaviour during the trial has not been significant to warrant granting of the clearway in perpetuity.

I doubt compliance with the road rules would continue to improve without the motivation of earning the clearway subject to reviews.

Lack of compulsory cyclist identification also presents law enforcement difficulties for Police as does the sheer volume of cyclists.

The Bike Lobby stakeholders however would seemingly do whatever it takes to keep the clearway, even seriously advocate bunch cycling reform.

To make the cycling community earn the Clearway is also perhaps the last, best chance to 'clean up Beach Road' and even for Bunch cycling reform in Victoria

        I believe the compromise proposition above that No Stopping Zones be reviewed annually, or every second year, is also useful as it is the responsible middle course which also gives 'something for everyone'. 

To review No Stopping Zones at a regular interval such as annually or every 2 years, on the basis of improved compliance with the road rules and Code of Conduct for Training Cyclists is a cycling safety measure.

Even Bicycle Victoria acknowledges "Our review of cycling deaths shows that cyclists who break the law are much more likely to be killed or seriously injured" Bicycle Victoria Report into Cycle Deaths in Victoria 2002
        To grant the Clearway in perpetuity would be a victory for selfish vested interest.

Bicycle Victoria in particular remains very influential. Their influence has been described to me as "they intimidate local and State Governments with the size of their membership"

Bicycle Victoria’s Jason den Hollander has consistently spruiked Bicycle Victoria’s aim: “Our aim is to turn Beach Road into the World’s premier cycle training route on weekend mornings”,(Clearways key for safety, say riders, The Independent, 30/9/08)

        Yet Beach Road Cyclists spokeman Marcel Lema told Stateline on September 1st 2006, 6 days after James Gould’s death, “cyclists need to learn how to ride safely in a bunch” “Probably 80 to 90 per cent of cyclists that are on Beach Road today have a very low set of skills…”

Given that there are no bunch cycling training programs, Bicycle Victoria’s grandiose aim is ‘to turn Beach Road into the world’s premier cycle training route' in order to accommodate cyclists who need training at bunch cycling’
‘any kind of cycling more often’ is self defeating

         To grant the clearway in perpetuity would not be a victory for cycling safety nor community safety. On yearly average, cyclist crashes have risen. Also cyclist collisions with parked cars pre-trial were just 6 in 4 years 4 months, and as Bicycle Victoria’s Garry Brennan told The Independent on  28/10/08 “It’s often an inexperienced rider who may have had a lapse of concentration or was distracted”

Cyclist inexperience, unpreparedness, carelessness and recklessness remain unaddressed.

         Some pertinent points to note from the Trial Evaluation report
The Cyclist Crash summary, under the heading community safety, shows 22 crashes in 4 years 4 months pre-trial, during the proposed clearway time period. This is an average of just over 5 crashes per year pre trial. During the almost 14 months of the No Stopping trial there were 7 cyclist crashes, higher than the average yearly cyclist crashes pre-trial. Therefore from a community safety perspective, cyclists were worse off during the No Stopping Trial.

         Bayside Council seem uncertain on the standpoint of community safety when they state on point 4.5 of the report headed Social Impacts “It appears from the crash analysis data that the trial has              improved safety along Beach Road as there were no cyclists crashes involving parked cars during the 6am-10am period at weekends”

But there were higher than the yearly average crashes overall. Furthermore collisions with parked cars were miniscule pre-trial: 6 during the 4 years 4 months pre trial, just over 1 crash per year with parked cars. Or, with 104 Saturdays and Sundays per year, there were 6 cyclist collisions with parked cars in 448 weekend mornings, hardly an epidemic!

         From a community safety aspect, not only were cyclists worse off on yearly average crashes during the Trial, but many other road users needed to be considered under the umbrella of Community Safety.
In the last paragraph of point 6 headed Summary the report asserts “...the introduction of the trial has improved the overall safety and amenity of all users of Beach Road, particularly motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.”

But in relation to the impact of cyclists’ behavior on other road users, on page 46 under Cyclist behaviour, the report states “no negative changes in behaviour were observed during the trial”, which also means there was little or no improvement in cyclist behaviour.

         On page 47 under the heading Impact on pedestrians the report states “At signalised crossing locations along Beach Road it is considered that the No Stopping trial has had no impact.” No impact would seem to mean no change in cyclist’s behaviour at crossings, no improvement in cyclist’s behaviour re red light running, for instance.

         Community Safety must also include State Coroner Graeme Johnstone’s recommendations in his Inquest into the Death of pedestrian James Gould, particularly re racing on public roads, red light running, and difficulty stopping at traffic signals on the part of bunch cyclists especially due to fear of being struck by the cyclist behind.

         Coroner Johnstone said in his Record of Investigation into the Death of 77 year old Mentone resident, James Gould:

“Whether the “Hell Ride’ is a “training run” or a bicycle race is somewhat irrelevant to the safety issues.”
“It would be easy to focus on the behaviour of one individual from the group who rode through the red light and entered the pedestrian crossing to strike Mr Gould.”
“However, one must not underestimate the difficult group dynamics and pressures on individuals to go along with the mass of training or racing cyclists.”

“Clearly following Mr Gould’s early death, mass groups of cyclists need to be aware of the safety consequences of riding as a block. They as individuals are at high risk, pedestrians are at risk, children are at risk and the motorist is at risk.”

          Coroner Johnstone’s findings and recommendations remain ignored by Road Safety authorities and the Bike Lobby vested interests nearly six years after the death of James Gould killed during the proposed clearway time period, at 8.30AM on Saturday August 26th 2006 at The Mentone Lifesaving Club pedestrian crossing.

          Bicycle Victoria Facilities Development Manager Jason den Hollander by the way called Mr Gould’s death , “a scenario involving one rider” (Brake on clearway, Bayside Leader 9/10/07)

          Finally, in relation to motorists' safety, on page 46 under Cyclist behaviour Re “drivers providing more space when overtaking cyclists” from my observations motorists overwhelmingly give bunch cyclists a wide berth for fear of hurting riders and being accountable for any harm caused, and motorists have received an undeserved bum rap there.

         Also motorists' safety in giving cyclists a wide berth is not helped by cyclists in more than one lane pushing motorists over the centre line in order to give cyclists a metre clearance. Also driver frustration caused in overtaking extremely oversized bunches of 100 cyclists with a view to cyclist safety causes motorists to go well on to the wrong side of the road.

A metre matters for motorists too

if cyclists push them over the centre line on to the wrong side of the road into the path of oncoming traffic.

No comments:

Post a Comment