Cycling and pedestrain DANGER ZONES
Northern Beaches cyclists believe riding their bikes on peninsula roads is becoming more and more dangerous, and are now especially concerned the proposed B-Line bus service will make cycling even worse. Although cyclists will be allowed to use the new bus lane to ride, bike riders are up in arms at the fact there will be no introduction of a bike lane on the main roads.
The plans are causing chaos in the community, with Harold Scruby, CEO of Pedestrian Council of Australia, calling it "bloody dangerous".
"Having cyclists in bus lanes that are only going to get busier is an absolute farce," Mr Scruby warns. "You cannot share a lane with a bus if you are riding a bike.
"The state government likes to describe roads as 'shared' areas, but all that means is we don't have the right infrastructure to keep everyone properly separate and safe."
Bicycle NSW communications manager, Kim Lavender, adds, "There has been talks that cyclists should be banned from using main roads at peak time, but this Is not a solution to the problem, and it won't help increase bike riding participation.
Peninsula local and keen cyclist Matt Christie believes the most dangerous stretch on the peninsula is in Narrabeen, heading south on Wakehurst Parkway.
"The bike lane has parked cars between it and the footpath, and It's notorious for people flinging open their doors in front of cyclists. Other areas are the roundabouts in Dee Why, Curl Curl and Freshwater - and the worst for being t-boned by cars is on Mona Vale Road. I'm always on really high alert in these areas."
Mr Christie reveals he has had "countless friends hit by cars, been doored, or experienced abuse by angry drivers".
Shockingly, he says he has "unsettling, near misses" on one out of every five rides. He's been hit by a car, but thankfully "left relatively unscathed".
Northern Beaches Council's general manager of environment and infrastructure, Ben Taylor, agrees that "people riding bicycles are considered vulnerable road users".
However, Council believes it has found a solution - stating the proposed new bus lane - that will be used for the new B-Line bus service and regular buses, as well as cyclists, taxis, hire cars, motorcycles, emergency vehicles, special purpose vehicles, and vehicles operated by or under the direction of the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) - won't be a problem. "The council is planning a big investment in new paths to encourage cycling as a preferred travel mode," says Mr Taylor. This means cyclists can opt to use the main roads or the new pathways to ride on. The $22.3 million Coastal Walkway project is now underway. It will feature 36km of new cycleways and shared paths for cyclists and pedestrians connecting north-south and east-west that will link to B-Line transport hubs and services.
"Plus, Council is preparing resources to better educate our residents about correct shared path etiquette and to ensure safety for all."
However, Mr Scruby disagrees, saying shared paths amount to collisions between pedestrians and cyclists.
"What Council and the RMS should be doing is spending money on providing dedicated cycling paths instead of shared paths. Did you know that if a cyclist hits a pedestrian on a shared path and then disappears there's no compensation? Yet if you're on a road and hit by a car, then you are compensated. We need separate pathways.
"On shared paths, cyclists are meant to give way to pedestrians -that's what the law states - but all these cyclists think they are a law unto themselves."
Mr Christie strongly disagrees with this statement.
"I believe shared paths are a sensible option. Cyclists are completely respectful of pedestrians. However, it's not rocket science - the shared pathways should be used only for recreational cyclists. For those who are serious cyclists -those who really put In the kms, those who commute, those who speed along at 30km-50km per hour, and those in large groups - they should be still using the roads."