Saturday, 20 October 2012

A long(-ish) post for a long bike route

Some time ago, the State Government announced plans to build a series of 'Super Schools'. They have since been built. One of them (Roma Mitchell High) is in Northfield just north of Grand Junction Road. It replaced about three high schools that have since been closed. As a consequence, its zone is massive. It stretches west to the other side of the railway line and south pretty close to North Adelaide. The shaded area in the map below shows only part of it. It includes the parts that are bordered by yellow lines. It may even be larger:

When it was in the planning stage, the then Education Minister, Jane Lomax-Smith, held a public consultation about it. I thought about going and asking whether the Minister planned to do anything to assist students in getting to school under their own steam rather than encouraging more traffic and hoping the bus service is good enough. In the end I didn't go but I can't help thinking the answer would have included words like 'committed' and 'encourage' but effectively would have been 'no'.

A school zone that large requires a bit of thinking. Luckily with not too much thought a decent network of bike routes could quite easily be constructed. The school itself is just south of the skate park on the corner of South Terrace and Briens Road in Pooraka. The skate park is where Northfield (or possible Stockade) railway station used to be. If you start there and go west, you can follow the old railway line as far as Dry Creek. There is plenty of space for a wide bike path. With a bit of imagination:

... it could cross the Gawler railway line and then follow the freight line towards Port Adelaide. Alternatively, if you start at the skate park and go east, you can follow Dry Creek as far as Reservoir Road. There is plenty of space for a Linear Park style bike route.

The whole route covers a fair distance. I made a map of it. Here's the eastern part:

and here's the western part:

Where the route crosses Main North Road, it is just next to the 'Gepps X' home centre. This is looking east towards the skate park:

This is looking west from the same point:

This is a close up where you can still see the platforms from the old Pooraka railway station:

You would obviously need a decent crossing treatment here with lights. For example:

Travelling west from the skate park, the route is very wide. This is part of it looking across at the children's playground which is on the way.

Near the skate park, you can see the roof of the school:

It would not be difficult to have a path from here leading straight into the school grounds.

South of Grand Junction Road where the bulk of the school zone is requires different treatment. Most of the area is residential and bordered by main roads. Dealing with them is easy. Increasing cycling permeability while decreasing permeability for motor vehicles is the way to do it. There is tons of literature on the web about how it is done. Simply lowering speed limits is not enough. You have to make rat-running impossible and through routes for bicycles not just possible but actively encouraged. That in turn requires proper categorisation of roads and their uses.

I do not for a minute pretend to be an expert but the idea is to unravel cycling rouets from car routes. Some streets can be designated as bicycle streets. That means cars are guests and the only cars that need to be there are those that belong to that street's residents or visitors. This post is a great starting point. Nothing like experiencing it yourself of course. The point is that you could make a significant difference to traffic congestion by allowing students in a school that big to get there some way other than in the back seat of a car.

In turn, the north-south main routes leading up to the school also require treatment. Hampstead Road is wide enough. Main North Road is wide enough. Churchill Road is wide enough. For roads that are busy, painted lanes are useless as we all know. Simple raised lanes are probably not enough either given the volume of traffic. Proper separation is required:

(Borrowed from here)

Having said all of this, a specific route to a specific place is probably not the best way to build a cycling network in any event. It only really serves the people who want to go to that destination or somewhere along the way (and then only assuming it's fast and direct enough). What is required is decent facilities where people need them and will use them - on main roads. That sort of visible, high quality infrastructure is what really encourages alternatives to the car. Once you have that, the secondary routes sort themselves out once they are properly categorised and treated accordingly with a combination of closures and one-way streets.

Anyway, back to the school route, if you are a train tragic like me, here's an old video showing the route from the front of a train:

At 2 minutes, the train reaches Northfield where the skate park is now and at 2:49, it is at Pooraka where the overgrown platforms next to 'Gepps X' still are

Saturday, 13 October 2012

My wife is seriously hot

My wife has been shopping again but this time at Cue. She bought two dresses this time.

The first is a very cute peach coloured dress. This is the front:

and this is the back:

There is no link to it because it was already on sale when she bought it. You'd probably have difficulty finding one now.

The next one is very different but just as cute on her:

They call it a Lace Design Jacquard Dress. The link will probably work only as long as the dress is available. At the time of writing, it was already on sale.

As with the other frocks, these would look fantastic if she wore them on a bicycle. As we all know though, looking good is fine but if riding a bike is horrible why would you bother? I imagine a frock like one of these loses its lustre if you wear it while riding on one of Adelaide's busy roads. Also, riding around wearing anything is a crime if you don't wear a plastic lid even though nobody gets to see my wife's golden locks flowing in the wind.

So Taylor Swift, for example, would be breaking the law if she came to Australia and behaved in the same way she did recently in Paris.

Nudity is ok of course as long as you wear your helmet.

All it means is that nobody gets to share in my better half's loveliness.


Your loss.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Trains again

Yup. Totally relate to him.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Streets only for some

This great little video is currently doing the blog rounds:

It shows a young Dutch child learning to ride a bike. I found the video on Tim Gill's brilliant Rethinking Childhood website along with a great article about it. The point he makes is about the importance of allowing our children to develop in this way. He also acknowledges the designers who put together an environment that allows this to happen:

let’s not forget the planners and architects who put in those wide pedestrian pathways in their neighbourhood in the first place, and the politicians whose decisions made this happen. It is hard to learn how to cycle if you do not have safe, traffic-free paved areas to practise in.

Exactly. How many streets around Adelaide allow children to do this? None of them near me do, even though the council did try to (something I have already complained about).

You would be hard pressed to find a scene like this anywhere. If you do see children on bicycles, they are either in a special purpose park (having arrived their by car) or they are wobbling along a pavement that is too narrow for them and travelling far too slowly because:

a) their parents are walking with them (or slowly driving(!) as I saw recently) and
b) every single driveway is a hazard.

There was an article about driveways in yesterday's paper. Last year, there were 1204 crashes across the state with the vast bulk (85%) caused by cars reversing. Of those, 59 involved a bicycle and 33 involved pedestrians being hit. With those figures it is hardly surprising that you see so few children like the one in the video.

It does not appear to be commonly known but you actually have to give way when reversing out of a driveway - not just to other cars on the road, but to pedestrians and cyclists on the pavement as well as posties on their mopeds. That means treating the end of the driveway as if it had a stop sign. Stop, check your mirrors both sides and then slowly reverse. Just beeping your horn is unlikely to have any effect on a child who is probably not listening out for them.

Like many problems, I think you could reduce the number of those collisions by engineering the conflict away. If our residential streets were blocked much more, the traffic levels would be reduced sufficiently to allow people to learn to ride their bikes where they're supposed to - on the road. And you can then start filling the street up with all sorts of fun things:

(Borrowed from here)