Saturday, June 16, 2018

Our Future State

The State government has released their plan for advancing the state's priorities. Reading through them it is very clear that investment in active travel can help contribute to the achievement of the objectives.

Here are some of the areas investment in active travel can help:
  • Create jobs: active travel has been shown to be good for local economies, supporting improved property values, increasing sales, and creating places people want to go to. Investment in quality rail trails and active recreation facilities in regional centres creates active tourism jobs and brings income into regional centres where jobs are scarce. Derby in Tasmania is a great case-study. Research in Victoria from 2003 showed that for every day on rail trails in Victoria, visitors spent an average of $51 (or around $70 in 2018 taking inflation into account). So if a rail trail attracts just 100 users a weekend, it generates over $360,000 per annum for the local economy - that is at least 3 full time jobs.
  • Keep Queensland's healthy: a very effective strategy to increase the physical activity of children and adults so that we address the obesity epidemic is to get them out of their cars and make active travel choices. This not only improves physical health, it also improves mental health - helping to address suicides. But to do this there is a need for supportive infrastructure - the benefit of which exceeds the costs.
  • Protect the Great Barrier Reef: Active transport emits negligible levels of greenhouse gasses. The Great Barrier Reef can be protected if more people are walking and cycling instead of driving.
  • Keeping communities safe: Over the last few days there has been much talk about safety in our cities due to the horrific murder of a young woman in Melbourne. I have not however seen much discussion on how the design and management of active travel infrastructure can contribute to community safety. Investing in quality active travel infrastructure can reduce the safety risks for everyone. The more people out and about on foot and bike, the less risk there is to users of the network.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Four types of potential bicycle riders

I think most of us have come across the research undertaken by Roger Geller on the four types of transportation cyclists in Portland, Oregon. I have seen it referenced in multiple reports, but have also heard many questions about its applicability across geographies.

Recently I came across some research undertaken under the Transportation Research Board in the USA that aimed to expand the model to assess other cities in the USA. You can purchase the research report by Jennifer Dill on the TRB site here. I found this very useful slide presentation from 2015 on the LinkedIn Slideshare that summarises the outcomes of the research report.

Four Types of Cyclists: A National Look from TREC at PSU

Now  we just need some similar research in Australian cities. I am quite certain that the Australian population will have a similar profile of potential bicycle riders, but local research is always more pwerful to reference.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Hostile vehicles and crowded places

Since the recent terrorist attacks where vehicles have been used to attack crowds many cities have been installing temporary concrete bollards around locations vulnerable to terrorist attack using a vehicle. Unfortunately these are generally rather ugly and in many cases they significantly impact on the pedestrian capacity through the area.

Sometimes the temporary barriers have been installed despite existing bollards being in place. This is probably because the existing bollards are not strong enough to stop a determined driver in a heavy hostile vehicle.

In mid-September I was in Melbourne for the AITPM conference and noticed this example in the Bourke Street Mall. The temporary bollards are completely ineffective since a vehicle can quite easily access the mall using the tram tracks.

The Australian Government recently launched their Strategy for Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism. As well as the strategy, the website includes some valuable tools that active transport and public space planners and engineers need to make themselves aware of when planning and designing crowded places. Crowded places could include outdoor dining areas, commercial hubs and CBDs, shopping centres, hotels, stadiums or special events. Relevant tools include:
The Hostile Vehicle Guideline for Crowded Places has some valuable guidance for planners and engineers. Some of the things that stand out for me are:
  • Early intervention during planning provides the greatest opportunity for success and the cost of including security interventions increases as the project progresses through design to completed infrastructure
  • Security should be proportionate to the threat and appropriate for the space
  • Sculptures, bicycle parking, fountains and stairs can be effective security measures that add to the amenity of a crowded place. This blog post provides a nice discussion on some design ideas for beautiful bollards.
  • To be effective, the maximum clearance between barriers cannot be wider than 1.2m
  • The angle of the vehicle entry to the space can significantly impact on the cost of barriers
  • Speed bumps and the like are ineffective in deterring or slowing down a hostile vehicle.
The guideline was prepared by the Designing Out Crime Research Centre who have done some interesting work in the use of design innovation to resolve complex crime issues and social problems.

So, does this mean the death of the 'naked streets' concept? I don't believe so, it just makes it an inappropriate design solution in areas where there are crowds that gather.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Trends in cycling - a little old, but good

This interactive web page developed by Allianz is a great resource summarising some of the census and other data sources on cycling.

Good on you Allianz for doing your bit to provide information and promote cycling.

It would be great if all cities and states provided this sort of update on an annual basis. It provides a fantastic barometer on how we are doing in supporting active transport.

Portland, Oregon regularly publishes a short report on cycling in the city on key corridors. It provides a great snap shot of cycling trends in the city. The National Cycling Participation Survey is great, but the information could be presented in a far more accessible format than a PDF report.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Raised priority crossings

Priority crossings of side streets are essential for off-road cycle tracks along arterial roads. Without the priority for cyclists the traffic on the minor side streets impact significantly on the safety and delay for cyclists using the cycle track. More confident cyclists will tend to ride on road and avoid using the cycle track, and all other cyclists risk their safety every time they have to cross the side streets.

The Cycle Track guideline (Technical Note TN128) issued by the Department of Transport and Main Roads gives good guidance on priority crossings for cycle tracks. Here are some examples I have seen delivered around the state.
 Brisbane Road on the Sunshine Coast

Entrance to theme parks and studios off Entertainment Drive, Gold Coast (photo from Google StreetView) - not the raised crossing on the slip lane.
Brassal Bikeway in Ipswich.

Brisbane has multiple locations where priority crossings are required on V1 Veloway. My pet hates are:
  • along O'Keefe Street with the crossing of Carl Street (Council did a half hearted upgrade in 2016 that did not address the issue at all)
  • along Bapaume Road and Birdwood Road
Stage E of the Veloway upgrade will hopefully provide a priority route for cyclists through this dangerous section of the V1. But unfortunately it may not address the issue for school kids cycling to Holland Park High which is just off the V1 along Bapaume Road. This is a personal issue for me as my daughter has just started high school there and our house is ideally located for her to use the V1 to cycle to school. However the multiple crossings of slip lanes, side roads and driveways make me very nervous for her safety.

Hopefully the upgrade to the V1 will also consider the needs of school kids needing to access Holland Park High. The upgrade does not appear to be funded yet so I dont know if it will get upgraded soon enough for my kids to use it to get to school. An interim intervention to improve this section would definately be welcome for commuters and school children using this dangerouse section of the V1. I have some ideas for improvements, if anyone would be interested.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Bicycle deflection rail removal

Thank you to the Brisbane City Council for deciding to remove the bicycle deflection rails (banana bars) on the network. These have been hated by cyclists for quite some time - especially on busy cycle links.
I have already seen the benefit on my cycle route via the V1. The hazardous banana bars on the entrance to the bikeway from O'Keefe Street were recently removed. This is a significant safety improvement.
The purpose of the banana bars in this location were never really clear as it is extremely unlikely that a car will access the path as there is a fence along O'Keefe Street.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Active cities

The Transportation Research Board (USA) recently issued a guide for city leaders on improving how cities support active lifestyles. I love the way the USA makes guidelines, statistics and research publicly available for free. They have some brilliant resources. Although they tend to be focused on the USA they are often more applicable in Australia than similar European research and guidance.

I love this quote from the report:
'Cities that make physical activity a priority, convert existing spaces into active spaces, and design environments for people to be active will create a legacy of physical activity. These active cities will be better off by almost every possible measure.'
The report has some great statistics and info-graphics. Not all the research is from the USA as the guideline is aiming to show a broad base of evidence of the benefits of active cities. In fact Adelaide is mentioned as an example of a city that is doing well at supporting activity.

The guideline gives simple and practical advice on supporting the development of an active city related to:
  • open spaces and parks
  • urban design and land use
  • transport
  • schools
  • building design and work spaces
It then gives policy interventions that will deliver positive outcomes - including 'quick wins'. And then it also provides links to a wealth of tools and resources. This guideline is a valuable resource that is aimed at the non-technical leader / decision makers in cities. It would be good to get more awareness of it amongst transport planning professionals and public figures.

Brisbane is doing many of these interventions and that is one of the reasons I love living here. Wouldn't it be great if these principles could be completely embraced by our cities.