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Letter to the editor: Roads bias

3 June, 2011

Roads bias

In your Feb-Mar issue a reader raised the query as to why many cyclists choose to use the road when there appears to be a very good dual-use path adjacent to it.  I too had the same question until I started riding to work. It quickly became apparent to me that to get to Perth the road was a much better option. Some of the reasons for this are:

  1. The dual-use and cycle paths rarely get swept, but the roads do – even minor streets get swept at least annually and the major road as often as monthly. Thus broken glass, leaves, sand etc all accumulate in to hazards and obstacles for cyclists using the paths.
  2. Dual use paths duck, twist and detour to go over every rise and into every dip beside the road, whereas roads are much flatter and the hills much more gradual. 
  3. Overhanging and low branches from verge trees and private property that start to impede trucks or cars on roads are cleared within hours. If they impede a cycle path then they are left to be dealt with as part of annual council maintenance if they are verge trees. If they are from private residence then the council issues, at its own pace, a 28-day notice for the owner to attend to the matter.
  4. Dual-use and cycle paths end at each intersection. The cyclist needs to stop and give way to turning traffic. A cyclist on the road has the same rights as a vehicle travelling in the same direct.
  5. Traffic lights on roads give the main traffic flow priority, and pedestrian crossings least priority. 
  6. Roads are well lit while very few cycle or dual-use paths have anywhere near the same amount of lighting.

Give cyclists paths and infrastructure of equal standing to what cars get in road design and maintenance and then you will see more cyclists using the paths and not the roads.  In short, stop expecting cyclist to accept standards that imply they are third class citizens.

Kelvin Davis, Wattle Grove, WA

Riding in traffic, also called ‘vehicular cycling’,  is the practice of riding on the road to increase the visibility of bike riders as ‘normal’ vehicles, with the same rights, responsibilities and rules as other road users. Segregated cycling separates bikes from other traffic through infrastructure such as paths, separated lanes and cycleways.

This issue seems to divide people – what do you think? Riding on the road is the way to go, or do you prefer separate lanes?

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