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Journeys : October November 2009
The newly-installed cycle lanes in Hobart sparked much discussion that highlighted the occasional angst between motorists and cyclists. It is perhaps the case that those involved in the planning and installation underestimated the amount of education required to prepare Hobart road users for the new infrastr ucture. Relatively few people would have experienced such cycle facilities in other cities where they have been in use for years, but only now for the first time have advance storage boxes and green cycle lanes been installed in Tasmania. There were genuine concer n s following installation as we all adapted to the new road conditions but there was also a bias from a minority of motorists who seem to str uggle with the concept of sharing the road with cyclists. The cost was repeatedly emphasised, as though this infrastr ucture, which assists both cyclists and motorists to share the road more easily, was exorbitantly expensive. Yet at about the same time Sharing the road Tim Stredwick and with a similar budget, a roundabout was constr ucted at the junction of Salamanca Place and Gladstone Street, without a whimper of complaint about the cost. So many of us take our road system for granted that we forget how incredibly expensive it is to build and operate. 'But cyclists don't pay rego, they don't deser ve to use our roads, they should be on the footpath' -- these are frequent calls from some motorists. In our increasingly user-pays society these complaints seem to have a basis -- but let's look more closely at the concept. It is logical to assume that as a bicycle is so much smaller and lighter than a car, the fee paid would be in proportion. Realistically, such a small fee would cost more to administer than the income generated. In addition, the largest component of car registration is MAIB insurance to cover the death and injury caused by motor vehicles. The costs associated with cycling crashes are inconsequential. Factor-in the cost savings to society from day- to-day cycle trips, which have been calculated at 50c per kilometre, and the concept of bicycle registration is even more of a non-starter. These savings are due to the health and environmental benefits but also insignificant wear and tear to the road system compared to motor vehicles. Aside from the pure economics, it is worth considering the effect cycling has in reducing congestion. For ex ample, 200 cyclists travel each way along Sandy Bay Road at peak times. Just imagine the congestion if all those cyclists were single-occupant car drivers! There is certainly a need for a greater understanding between motorists and cyclists to enable us all to go about our daily jour neys in a more cooperative and respectful way. There are many complex issues and assumptions to overcome but all road users should keep in mind that cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as the drivers of vehicles. We support National Ride to Work Day R ACT is supporting National Ride To Work Day on 14 October. A breakfast for cyclists will be held at Mawson Place on the Hobart waterfront between 6-9am. R ACT Cycle Angels will be on duty along the course to offer assistance to new riders. You can get further information by calling Cycling South 6273 4463 or emailing w w w.cyclingsouth.org Life on the move October / November 09 29
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Dec Jan 2010