The uncertain future of the Cooks River GreenWay

I recently wrote an e-letter to the NSW Minister for Transport regarding the GreenWay and I’ve written about it before. Briefly it’s a cycling and pedestrian green corridor that will create an important cycle/commuting link between the Inner-West and the city and city-west areas.

I’ve received a response so I thought I’d publish it here on the blog. The Greenway isn’t dead yet, but it also hasn’t been funded. I’m happy the light rail is going ahead but I hope that the GreenWay will be approved too. The fear is that because the light rail has gone ahead it’ll be too costly go then go back and create the GreenWay after the light rain has been done. I’ll be waiting for the Active Transport plan to see if it includes funding and a time for the GreenWay.

What do you think? Poly double-speak or some small sign it might happen?

The NSW Government has allocated $141 million in the 2012−2013 State Budget towards the development of light rail, including continued work on the Inner West Light Rail Extension, as well as the development of a Light Rail Strategic Plan. The Plan will examine the feasibility of extending light rail through the CBD, to the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney.

While I acknowledge your views on the GreenWay, the NSW Government’s decision to defer the GreenWay project was based on significant design issues that would have delayed construction of the Inner West Light Rail Extension.

The NSW Government’s decision will simplify the negotiations and contractual arrangements required to build the light rail extension and will reduce the risk of further delays. It will also ensure the Government can integrate the possible future construction of the GreenWay into a wider active transport network as part of an integrated transport master plan.

In the meantime, the Light Rail Project Team will continue working to deliver the Inner West Light Rail Extension as quickly as possible.


Cyclists’ delight: Velo-city cycle planning conference

Two bikes and a city street.

I am still signing up for cycling news services to keep up with what’s happening in the world of cycling. A lot, so I don’t know how well I’ll be able to monitor the cycle media.  I just got this through and thought I’d share it on the blog.

Velo-city is a cycling planning conference that aims to push the need for bicycle infrastructure in urban environments. It’s on at the moment in Vancouver and brings together experts, representatives of associations, institutions, policy-makers and social agents, universities and companies.

I hope your cycle planners from state government and our Sydney city council are attending as we need more support to keep building our city’s cycleways and not let the car/roads lobby stop the momentum. There always seems to be more money for more roads, but cycleways are still seen as a boutique thing that’s expensive, inconvenient for drivers and under-utilised. I think building the ‘business case’ for cycling infrastructure is a powerful tool  to counter this.

Here’s a bit of a blurb about it:

  • Discover the strategies and policies that have dramatically increased levels of cycling in communities around the world
  • Learn how other cities have overcome the challenges encountered when improving cycling facilities
  • Develop the knowledge to ensure the cost effective implementation of cycling infrastructure and programs
  • Review the latest research that helps build the business case for cycling and guides policy development
  • Benefits of professional and academic recognition along with awareness of the latest research
  • See and learn the techniques for cycling growth that supports sustainable communities by city representatives attending the conference

Want to know more? Here’s the link to the Velo-city conference website.

Why I’m in the Safer Cycling Study

3 Feet Please

Anytime I’m near a road on my bike I wish there was a giant impermeable, unbreakable wall separating me and my bike and helmet and my no other protection from the cars and trucks and buses and their wheels, engines, heavy bodies and sometimes cyclist-hating drivers. It’s a fact that cycling, particularly in urban areas, is dangerous. The degree of danger varies depending on where you ride and the type of facilities that cyclists have available to them.

On my commute to work I’m luck enough to travel on a shared pedestrian/cycle path the entire way except for two road crossing so it’s pretty safe and pedestrians and cyclists seem to co-exist very well for the most part. My only real gripe is speeding cyclists who seem to think it’s a section of the Tour de France not a shared path for commuting as well as recreational riding and walking. More on this in another post.

One of the road crossings now has lights but the other is a bit scary as it’s near a roundabout and cars are going downhill so it’s easy for them to pick up speed towards where the cycleway meets the road. On the weekend, my husband and I cycle on this path as it goes out towards the beach or in towards the inner-city where it meets the new separated cycleways that are being built in Sydney city.

I have been part of the University of New South Wales Safer Cycling Study. It aims to  learn about when, where and why people cycle, and the risks, hazards, near misses and crashes that people experience while cycling. They reckon that there’s just not enough information about cyclists and these issues in NSW.

Each couple of months I fill out a cycling diary detailing where I’ve ridden with distances and times along with details of any crashes or near misses I’ve been a part of. I’m happy to say I haven’t had to report any crashes, just a few near misses. Hopefully the study will be used to find out the safest places to ride and be used to lobby state governments and local council to put money into better riding facilities.

Follow this link if you want to find out a bit more about it: Safer Cycling Study.

If you’re interested in safe cycling, here are some links to websites with helpful info.

Safe Cycling Australia grassroots campaign and lobby group.

The Times has a Cities Fit for Cycling campaign promoting safe riding in London.

Bicycle Safe has tips on staying safe.

Citizens for Safe Cycling is a good example of community organisation promoting bike safety.

3 Feet Please is a campaign to promote a rule for safe cycling distances.

Get on ya bike and Ride2Work

Ride2Work Day celebrates cycle commuting

Do you ride to work? It’s one of the most useful aspects of being a bike rider. Commuting by bike saves money, is healthy and helps reduce congestion.

In Australia we have a Ride2Work Day, an annual event in October that encourages people to try bike commuting and focuses on the benefits of commuting by bike. It’s supported by the Bicycle Network.

I’m our workplace coordinator so it’s my job to encourage my colleagues to be part of it. It’s a good option for those who live close to our offices as we’re located right next to a cycle way that links to the east and the west, and we do have a number of bike riders who regularly commute.

I’ll write more in future posts about how our workplace has supported us as bike commuters with facilities and even bikes.

Here’s a little about the Ride2Work initiative:

The focus is on peoples main, regular transport requirement – commuting to work. 5-10km commutes via bicycle is a viable option for many people – and this number is increased if you include partial commutes (ride->public transport, drive->ride etc). However, shorter commutes, and longer ones are also encouraged, as is any cycling for transport in general.

To find out more about our Australian Ride2Work program, follow this link: Ride2Work Program – Bicycle Network.

Why have a cycling blog?

My cycling blog is called When writing on Spokes and the City I think about my posts in relation to cycling, bike riding, cycling gear, cycling infrastructure lobbying for cycling facilities and lots more, hopefully.

I’m hoping to gather some other cycling enthusiasts as followers to the blog and give them some personal, anecdotal story on blogging, something informative and something interesting on the many, many topics related to cycling and cyclists.

I started blogging at the beginning of 2012. I made a little start last year but didn’t get back to it until this year. I’d been thinking about it for a while and thinking about what I wanted to blog and why I wanted to blog. I didn’t really have answers for all these questions when I started but I decided it was better to just start and work it out as I go.

I see my blogs as a work in progress as I learn the best way to write to catch people’s interest and what to share that is of interest to others. I love blogging so much more than I thought I would and have discovered it’s different to what I thought. It’s much more than just being personal – it’s sharing something that you might not get in the mainstream media or add something to your life or your interests to make it of interest to others. It’s definitely finding the time to blog and also finding good, legal, images to go with my blog posts.

Support for the Greenway

This is a letter to the NSW Premier and Transport Ministor in support of the Cooks River GreenWay. It’s a cycling, walking and green corridor proposed to run along with light rail line from Dulwich Hill to Leichhardt. It would open up more cycling options for this area and provide an important link for cycling commuting between Tempe and Leichhardt and beyond to get more people on bikes and off these congested roads. BUT the state government in all its wisdom has deferred it “indefinitely” because it cites cost and logistics. Yet there’s always money for more roads and more car parking.

To find out more about the GreenWay and how to help campaign go to the Friends of the GreenWay site. It also has an email to send your support.

Dear Premier and Minister, It is appalling that the NSW Government has cut funding of the GreenWay shared pathway and bushland regeneration project in the state budget.

I want to express my strong opposition to this reduction in the NSW Government’s commitment to active transport. The GreenWay is an essential, much wanted and anticipated community asset and is a foremost project in the strategic planning being done in NSW.

The GreenWay will have many advantages including: – Maximising the patronage of the light rail, linking it with regional cycling and walking routes – Providing a regional active transport corridor for the growing (and ageing) local population – Protecting bandicoots an endangered species living in the corridor, and establishing a bush corridor though a highly urbanised part of Sydney – Getting people out of their cars and into sustainable transport, making Sydney a more sustainable city – Providing an opportunity for children to walk or cycle safely to school, with 23 schools within the GreenWay catchment area.

The GreenWay is a once in a generation opportunity that we cannot afford to lose, supported throughout the community. Building the light rail extension alone means the GreenWay may never be built, and will be far more costly than building the original, integrated vision. I urge you to review your decision and reinstate the GreenWay and ensure all the work, both paid and volunteer, that has gone into the project so far over many years and the $1.8m NSW Environmental Trust Grant is not wasted.

So come on, what’s really stopping you supporting the GreenWay?

High-vis help for cyclists

I have always assumed the yellow, orange bright jackets and tops was a good way to be visible while reading. Although I have read on some bike sites that orange is actually more visible than yellow, despite the fact that most high-vis cycling gear is luminous yellow. I ride in both summer and winter with yellow high-vis tops or jackets.

So I was intrigued to read this article on the BikeWise website about whether visible positioning or clothing has the greater impact on making a rider seen by pedestrians, cars and other traffic. I thought I’d publish some of the article on my blog as is raises some useful questions about the most sensible, and defensive, way to ride a bike. I guess it’s also a reminder about not getting complacent and assuming you’ll be spotted because you’ve got a blowing yellow jacket on while riding.

The full article is at the BikeWise website  and is Hi-Vis Clothing vs. Hi-Vis Road Positioning.

“…we think it’s your road positioning that has a much greatest impact on your safety and visibility in traffic. … If you ride near the centre of the lane, you are far more visible there than on the far left of the road near the ‘door zone’.”

This is because most drivers’ eyes are conditioned to look to the centre of the lane to see on-coming vehicles approaching. If you ride near the centre of the lane in such situations, you’re going to get seen. As an added benefit, you’re also going to see any cars approaching much sooner, because you have a better sightline of the intersection.

Visibility essentially comes down to two things: Seeing and Being Seen. Wearing Hi-Vis clothing will enhance your visibility, especially at night and when there is reduced light, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security that wearing a fluro vest will instantly make you visible to all other road users.  In the words of London Cyclist:

“My argument here isn’t against high vis clothing. My argument is: Don’t just rely on high vis clothing. There is something that far surpasses the power of high vis. Road positioning.”