Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cyclists needs

A presentation by John Offer (from the City of Stirling) to the WA Cycling Safety Forum has some interesting approaches to the needs of users and appropriate treatments to cater for them (follow the link to see it). In Western Australia cyclists older than 12 are not allowed on the footpath. The intent of this is to minimise conflict between pedestrians and cyclists. But John rightly points out that many adult cyclists have very similar riding styles and confidence/skill levels as younger cyclists. They are therefore proposing to allow adults to cycle on footpaths as long as they are slow. To reduce the speed of cyclists on pathways they are trialing a 'Stirling Gate' - photo below.

It would be interesting to find out how that has performed.

With regards the types of cyclists he uses three groups - the 12-year old cyclist, the casual adult or POBSO (don't know what that means), and the Adult experienced cyclist group or commuter. My personal preference is the classification I developed after reviewing several alternatives (including 'The Principles of Cyclist Network Planning’ Land Transport NZ). 

Type of cyclist
Beginner cyclists include young children and novice cyclists. They can be unpredictable and prefer full separation from other traffic, particularly when travelling along busy roads.
Trips by beginner cyclists are commonly to school and shops and for pleasure near their homes or in recreation areas.
Beginner cyclists often find it difficult interacting safely with vehicle traffic when not on traffic-calmed local streets. They prefer grade-separation or signal controlled intersections when crossing busy roads.
Cautious cyclists include those with basic competence and more experienced cyclists who are risk averse. Cautious cyclists prefer separated cycle facilities but can ride on quiet two-lane roads, can manoeuvre past parked cars, and merge across and turn right from beside the centre line. They can cope with simple traffic signals and single-lane roundabouts that are designed for slow through traffic.
When required to travel on busy roads, cautious cyclists prefer cycle lanes and facilities at intersections. They are not well equipped to interact with faster traffic, multi-lane roads and multi-lane roundabouts. They usually lack the confidence to defend a lane where the lanes are too narrow to share.
Cautious cyclists are willing to use alternative longer routes in order to avoid situations perceived as high risk.
Experienced cyclists interact assertively with traffic. They do not require specific cycle facilities, only the space on the road when in amongst faster/busier traffic situations. Experienced cyclists will defend a lane where there is not enough room, judge the merge across faster multi-lane traffic, use multi-lane roundabouts in most cases (though apprehensively), and will not usually divert to a cycle path unless it provides a higher level of service than riding on-road.

I like this classification because it does not confuse the trip purpose, age or experience of the rider with their needs. Any classification that has a category 'commuter' does not recognise that commuters can range from novice cyclists to confident cyclists and the network needs to account for the needs of all to maximise the potential to promote cycling.

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