Saturday, January 2, 2010

On-road cycle lanes

I was down in Yamba for a week over Christmas and was interested by the on-road cycle facilities provided in the area. Instead of having 1.5m wide cycle lanes on each side of the road a 3m wide bi-directional cycle lane was provided on one side of the road. The roads were all rural roads serving small seaside holiday towns and have traffic volumes (I would suspect) and speeds of 80km/h.

This type of facility is not in the Austroads guideline and is a hybrid between a bicycle path and an on-road cycle lane. Although there may be issues of safety for cyclists travelling in the direction opposite to the adjacent traffic stream, there may be advantages for routes that have large numbers of sports cyclists. These cyclists tend to enjoy riding abreast or in groups and a 3m wide lane serves them far better than a 1.5m lane. if cyclists come in the opposite direction there may be safety issues if there is heavy traffic but I assume the local road safety people would work with local cycle groups to raise awareness of the etiquette of using these facilities.

The major advantage of a facility like this is that it may be cheaper to construct to retrofit cycle lanes on an existing road without paved shoulders. The tricky part is how to deal with cyclists at cross streets and at the end of the route if cyclists are accommodated in traditional cycle lanes on both sides of the road. Drivers at cross streets would not expect cyclists on the wrong side of the road but sports cyclists would prefer to stay on-road. It would be interesting to know the safety performance of these facilities.

In this example they took the cyclists off-road at the intersections and they crossed at a bent-out crossing. Although not the most convenient arrangement for cyclists I saw two cyclists use it. At the end of the route a pedestrian refuge and appropriate signage was provided were cyclists exited the facility on-road onto a low speed and traffic volume residential street where no pathways or cycle lanes were provided.
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