A Bridge Too Fast?

In response to the SMH’s beat-up of yesterday

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jason Brown <redacted@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 2:41 PM
Subject: A Bridge Too Fast
To: letters@smh.com.au

Regarding Melanie Kembrey’s Monday piece on Pyrmont Bridge, I feel I might have to clue your readers (and writers) into Cycling 101.

A bicycle is a simple device which relies on momentum to provide stability. To put this simply, the slower you travel, the more of your attention must be devoted to keeping your bike upright. Stable when moving, unstable when stationary, grey area in-between. Pretty simple.
The fact that riders exceed 10km/h on Pyrmont Bridge is not, in the main, because they are hoons, or irresponsible, or bad citizens. It’s simply because tottering along below 10km/h feels markedly less safe, stable and controlled – to most riders – than cruising along just that bit faster.
This is just physics. Physics and human nature.
Putting it back in context, this makes Pyrmont Bridge – and in fact most ‘shared’ paths – a poor choice of cycle route. However Sydney’s infrastructure deliberately funnels CBD to Inner-West riders into this busy corridor, with few other routes available. Alternative routes are either stocked with hostile traffic, prohibitively circuitous or simply unworkable.
The solution? As David Borella states: More and better infrastructure, not griping about riders exceeding an arbitrarily-defined speed limit.
 SMH declined to print this, instead opting for two anti-bike responses, both attempting to tar the many with the brush of a few, one citing a cyclist running a red light and hitting a child, the other citing a cyclist hitting a pedestrian on a footpath in Earlwood. As ever, these solitary, context-devoid isolated incidents alone say nothing about the overall ‘problem’. I’m sorry they happened, but they’re NOT relevant to the larger debate. I could cite statistics of people being injured by drivers, by joggers, by skateboarders and, yes, by pedestrians. Isolated incidents are useless in examination of wider issues.
The real problem is that too little infrastructure is safe or suitable for multi-mode transport options. Too many roads are hostile to riders, forcing them onto footpaths or backstreets, where they come into conflict with pedestrians. Too many ‘planned’ cycle routes – Pyrmont Bridge included – are run in denial of the realities of multi-mode transport. Shared infrastructure should NEVER form part of a commuter route, yet that’s exactly what City of Sydney have done by funneling Inner-West traffic to and from the CBD over a busy pedestrian foot bridge (two, in fact, if you count the Anzac Bridge).
That’s the problem here. Not the stupid actions of a minority – Idiots will always exist no matter what you do – but the absurd cycling ‘infrastructure’ that Sydney riders must deal with day-in, day-out.

2 Thoughts on “A Bridge Too Fast?

  1. Bobm on 17 June, 2014 at 4:18 pm said:

    Opportunity for an elevated cycleway all the way from Harris St to York or even Elizabeth St was lost when the monorail staunchions were removed.

  2. Anthony Seiver on 20 June, 2014 at 1:54 pm said:

    I always thought there was a MTB trials film in someone like Hans Rey doing a manual the whole way around the monorail track…

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