Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Staying Alive

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  • BenWilson, in reply to nzlemming,

    Having lived in Auckland and Wellington, this made me LOL :-D

    Wellington does have a big edge on the headwinds. But it's all close together, man, you can't call me soft.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Yes, but what have the cyclists ever done for us? (Apart from pneumatic tyres, ball bearings, roads...)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1408 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to George Darroch,

    500 or so cyclists, all wearing black

    i.e., lots of low-visibility cyclists? ...

    the impact would be undeniable.

    I fear you could be right.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 808 posts Report Reply

  • Biobbs, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Attachment

    Traffic restrictions too, although I don't think that would be popular. Here in Beijing all private cars are banned from the roads one day a week.

    Well, we've tried that idea ourselves...

    The River Mouth, Denmark • Since Jan 2011 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Having been "doored" I guess I'm less charitable. I don't for a second doubt there is no legal case to answer and that the judge made the only decision he could. But I don't feel able to say the same about the driver, drivers simply don't think about what is behind them when they open their car door and while it is always possible this is the one driver in a hundred who really did look, I'd don't find myself believing that

    I'm skipping pages 2-8 of this discussion so don't know what has followed but this claim of one in a hundred needs a straw poll because I ALWAYS check my mirror before opening my door when parking on a street.

    IMO if there is an adjacent cycle lane on a footpath it should be illegal to be riding on the road. As a car driver it is enough to be worried about other cars, trucks and busses on the road without worrying about cyclists when there are also cyclists riding along the footpath next to you amongst others.

    And I am an occasional recreational cyclist, albeit one who rides on the footpath wherever possible. I'll take my chances in court after injuring a walker on the footpath over being driven to Waikumete after being flattened by a couple of tonnes of metal on a road.

    When I am riding along the road and past parked cars I treat every door as one about to open. People talk about defensive driving but defensive riding is far more important because I can T-bone a car at 50km and walk away singing talula, but do the same on my bike and somebody is singing Hallelujah at a gathering I'm only loosely invited to.

    Since Nov 2006 • 855 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    PS, if we are going to constantly compare Auckland with other cities in terms of road layout it would be useful to compare it with other cities that have two large harbours and a narrow isthmus, 50+ dormant volcanoes, two mountain ranges to the west and east, and an undulating terrain.

    The only way to realistically make cycling safe is to have a separate lane for cyclists that has a barrier eliminating cars, like in the Netherlands youtube example above, or else like those in China where the cyclists do their thing down their separated tree lined lane and the cars do their thing in theirs. The first thing I saw when my plane landed in Beijing in 2001 as we taxied towards the terminal was a road next to the airport with a dozen cyclists cruising up it and no cars in sight, and when we drove about in Beijing over the following days the car to bike ratio was about 10 to 1. 10 bikes that is. I'm sure it's nothing like that now but it's apples and oranges to compare. To trasform Auckland into some kind of cycling oasis would cost about 20 squizilliontrillion dollars and the money would probably be better spent on ejukashun or something like that.

    Since Nov 2006 • 855 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Yamis,

    When I am riding along the road and past parked cars I treat every door as one about to open. People talk about defensive driving but defensive riding is far more important

    But the cyclist in this case did avoid the door...and was thereby run over by a truck. Evasive manoeuvres only work if there's somewhere safe to go.

    To trasform Auckland into some kind of cycling oasis would cost about 20 squizilliontrillion dollars

    It would be great if someone worked out some figures. Roads do need to be renewed from time to time, and it would be great if better cycling facilities were automatically incorporated.

    Here in Chch with our roads needing work anyway we're in the perfect position to put in some of this cycling infrastructure and show the rest of NZ how great it can be. :-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    And I am an occasional recreational cyclist, albeit one who rides on the footpath wherever possible.

    Grah, this is actually more dangerous! It is unusual to be hit while going straight along a road. Most accidents, as always, happen at intersections. And drivers don't expect cyclists to emerge from the footpath!

    Since Jul 2008 • 1252 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    biggest risk on footpaths would be driveways, wouldn't it?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Yamis,

    To trasform Auckland into some kind of cycling oasis would cost about 20 squizilliontrillion dollars and the money would probably be better spent on ejukashun or something like that.

    It's not all-or-nothing. Money spent making cycling safer or more convenient does work well before the squazillion mark is reached. Particularly dangerous stretches should be a priority.

    biggest risk on footpaths would be driveways, wouldn't it?

    Only place I've ever had a serious accident - car pulled out of driveway in front of me. I was going too fast. I pitched right over the bonnet, lucky not to break my neck or smash my head open. It was my fault.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Yamis,

    ALWAYS check my mirror before opening my door when parking on a street.

    So do I but even then I miss the bastards sometimes.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4454 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    It took years of activism in local and central politics to get cycling facilities considered as part of the usual business of roading/urban development projects. Yet the entire system and culture still prioritises trucks and cars, and that bias is deeply embedded in funding mechanisms and the attitudes of most people involved.

    Auckland's Wellesley Street extension to connect with motorway ramps is a classic example where no provision was made for walkers or cyclists to use the route to efficiently connect the education precinct and cbd with the Domain, hospital and routes to Newmarket and beyond.

    Thankfully the tide is turning, but the current govt dinosaurs won't help.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Yamis,

    PS, if we are going to constantly compare Auckland with other cities in terms of road layout it would be useful to

    Other cities provide examples and ideas for what can be done. Clearly they can't be simply imported wholesale and plonked onto Auckland's roads without adjusting them to suit Auckland's particular situation.

    or else like those in China where the cyclists do their thing down their separated tree lined lane and the cars do their thing in theirs.

    Not quite. Urban Chinese roads of any significance (with the exception of older roads, which sometimes, as in the case of Tianjin's Wu Da Dao, may not be suited to this for historic reasons) are divided into a 主路/zhǔlù and 辅路/fǔlù. The zhǔlù is the main road running down the middle for motor vehicles only. The fǔlù is the separated tree-lined bit running along either side of the main road. The fǔlù contains the cycle lane, but it is also access to parking and housing/businesses/work units/whatever buildings, estates, compounds, etc are there. There are a few short sections where the fǔlù is for cyclists only, but in general it is mixed use. Naturally, almost everybody drives much more slowly down the fǔlù than on the zhǔlù. One thing that helps is that in China it is considered polite for a motorist to give a couple of quick toots to warn cyclists ahead that a car is coming up behind them and they may wish to move over. Rural roads that are wide enough to have a separate cycle lane don't have any kind of zhǔlù/fǔlù distinction, and the cycle lane is market simply by a line of white paint. I don't think this system would work at all in Auckland, although Christchurch could try something similar, considering Beijing's terrain (the city built on a plain next to the hills) is more like Christchurch's.

    I have no idea how you'd measure a bicycle:car ration here these days considering the proliferation of electric bicycles, scooters and tricycles, but I doubt it's changed much. Bicycles don't get stuck in traffic jams, after all.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1732 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lilith __,

    When I am riding along the road and past parked cars I treat every door as one about to open. People talk about defensive driving but defensive riding is far more important

    But the cyclist in this case did avoid the door…and was thereby run over by a truck. Evasive manoeuvres only work if there’s somewhere safe to go

    Sorta. She collided with the driver, who was standing, and his door, and bounced off them. It was a weird accident in part because the truck the poor woman went under was going so bloody slowly. The driver says he almost caught her as she went down.

    I do strongly subscribe to the defensive riding philosophy, especially in riding past parked cars. Being in the right isn't much help if you get doored.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17976 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Oh whoops, I was too squeamish to read the details closely.

    I do strongly subscribe to the defensive riding philosophy, especially in riding past parked cars.

    I totally agree, and I ride very defensively myself. But how much reaction time do you usually get when someone opens a door in your path? If you're in a tight space with parked cars on one side and traffic on the other your only option is to brake hard and hope to stop in time.

    In the days before car headrests were usual it was much easier to see which cars were occupied and which weren't. But now it can be bloody difficult until you are really close. And on a busy city street there's no room to go around an opening door.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    The Herald on Sunday is on board, too:

    Cyclists, in particular those who commute, are not obscure oddball hobbyists; they are the trailblazers of a transport future whom we should applaud and accommodate.

    Amen!

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1732 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    That HoS editorial is excellent, and the comments are highly sympathetic. Unusual for such a publication, but I'll take it. It appears that the writer took cues from this column and Transportblog (and why wouldn't you?)

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2079 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to George Darroch,

    e writer took cues from this column and Transportblog

    Yeah, I did think it read like the author had been following the discussion here.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1732 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Some of the comments were sympathetic. There were still people whose views were that nothing should be spent on cycling infrastructure and cyclists should STFU, and deserved what cars dished to them <sigh>. Most of those people wouldn't seem to have been on a cycle for years, saying things like "no one is ever on the cycleways". Which even 1 minute standing beside the Northwestern cycleway would disabuse any time near rush hour. But that's a really good cycleway, completely separated from all but foot traffic, and taking a particularly sweet line straight towards the city, flat for many kilometers at a time.

    On totally shitty cycleways, like the one on Tamaki Drive, you only need to ride on them for a few minutes to realize why it seems like the least that you could do for everyone's benefit to get off it and onto the road. Considering that anyone who rides a bike anywhere in Auckland is accustomed to riding on roads because they're the only option for 99.99% of destinations, it doesn't seem that risky. Except at those bad points, where no real consideration has been given to what actually happens until someone dies.

    To my eyes that spot was about equally likely to claim a pedestrian at some point. When I ride along Tamaki Drive, it made me so nervous that I did actually use the cycleway, braving the glares of pedestrians, avoiding unleashed dogs and children, inline skaters, weaving in and out of slow moving pushchairs and mobility scooters, and pedestrians walking 4 abreast, or walking backwards to take photos of the water, riding around the lamp posts planted right in the middle of the cycle lane, avoiding car doors on that side, and children coming out from between cars. When pushed to the sea-side, I had to consider the chance of pitching over a low wall to a 10 foot drop onto jagged rocks, and rolling down into the sea.

    In other words at that point, there is no cycleway at all. There is a footpath, and if you can't ride slowly (many people don't have this skill, because it is actually difficult) then you'd be safest to walk your bike - for about 800 meters. The cycling infrastructure has to be improved.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to George Darroch,

    That HoS editorial is excellent, and the comments are highly sympathetic. Unusual for such a publication, but I’ll take it. It appears that the writer took cues from this column and Transportblog (and why wouldn’t you?)

    The editor of the HoS is clearly a different guy from the main Granny.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3912 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    Ben, I could hardly agree more with what you've written above. We're not talking about cycle-fying every metre of roadway, but about addressing a clear and particular problem.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17976 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    addressing a clear and particular problem

    too hard? #notfrickengoodenough

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Yeah, from what I've seen they're for flat cities.

    And small people. Who don't have enough money for a real scooter. Which is hundreds of millions of people, LOL.

    It's actually borderline whether they're more environmentally friendly than a petrol scooter. Most have lead-acid batteries, which eventually die and become waste.

    Motorized pushbikes have been around for a long time and never really made much of a transport solution for the first world. People prefer either the simplicity, reliability, cost and exercise value of a pushbike, or they want something that is built professionally to be safer on a road, and no exertion, and buy motorbikes/scooters. Things in the middle get squeezed out as being a combination of too expensive, without good performance, poor reliability, too dangerous, and too much effort to use. You have to be a tinkerer/hobbyist to keep them going, a lot of the time. I had fun for a while, but in the end, the good ole' safety bike won me over.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to BenWilson,

    It’s actually borderline whether they’re more environmentally friendly than a petrol scooter.

    True, but around here I see people tearing into traffic on two stroke petrol scooters and various tradesfolk on tricycles fitted with lawnmower engines, and then I see the electric versions. I know whose contribution to the air I breathe I prefer. I also suspect the battery technology will improve with time, as it will with electric cars. Petrol prices are only going upwards...

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1732 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    I know whose contribution to the air I breathe I prefer.

    For sure, especially in a really crowded city.

    I also suspect the battery technology will improve with time, as it will with electric cars.

    It has been and it will. But the irony is that also means that lead acid batteries are improving and being driven down in cost, and they're still the battery of choice in electric bikes, for the vast majority that are actually being used. ie in China.

    Petrol prices are only going upwards...

    Yup, but driving a scooter is extremely affordable. They get amazing mileage and can be parked for free nearly everywhere. In the long run, maybe one day petrol will be unaffordable*, but that's probably not a big factor in the choice to buy a petrol vehicle today.

    *I think the price of petrol will always be bounded above by the price of biofuel, which is on the reverse trajectory, it's getting cheaper. So it's not necessarily the case that the ICE will die a rapid death. Demand will probably keep driving prices up, but that will drive up demand for the most fuel efficient ICEs. Even the very best hybrid cars these days are only about the same as the most efficient pure ICEs (which are a hell of a lot simpler and cheaper). Only the pure EV wins on total fuel efficiency, and they're very much range constrained. The more constrained, the better the efficiency (because they don't have to lug heavy batteries around). They're coming, but not that fast.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

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