February 4, 2010
Many Melburnians believe that cycling in traffic is dangerous and there are suggestions Melbourne needs ’’greenways’’, bike-friendly roads with speed limits of 20 km/h where helmets are optional.
Research findings out today have found most bicycle owners who do not to ride to work have nominated dangerous traffic conditions as the big deterrent.
About 90 per cent of the 800 Victorians who responded to a telephone and online Sweeney Research survey said Victorian roads were not safe for cyclists.
The survey was commissioned by insurer AAMI and was made in the middle of last year.
It found two-thirds of drivers surveyed said cyclists were a hazard, 29 per cent said they had had an accident or a near miss with a cyclist and 83 per cent claimed to have seen cyclists break road rules and ride dangerously.
But an overwhelming number – 78 per cent of those surveyed – said they would like to see better facilities for cyclists.
Garry Glazebrook, senior lecturer at the school of the built environment, University of Technology Sydney, told a Planning Institute of Australia luncheon in Melbourne yesterday that some city roads should be transformed to make them bicycle friendly.
’’Let’s think about creating some cycle paths where you don’t have to wear a helmet, I call them greenways, places [streets] where there is a maximum of 20 kilometres an hour speed limit … all cars have to give way to pedestrians and cyclists, and on those roads you don’t need to have a helmet,’’ Dr Glazebrook said.
’’I am of the view that the mere fact that we put helmets on people is the wrong way around, it is admitting that it’s not safe to ride a bike and the reality is it isn’t safe.’’
Inner Melbourne will have an additional 600 bikes in use come the middle of the year, after the state government’s bicycle hire scheme is launched with 50 bicycle stations.
The RACV and Alta Planning and Design will run the scheme and are exploring options to make helmets available for sale or hire in the CBD.
Bicycle Victoria spokesman Garry Brennan said compliance with helmet laws was high in Victoria. It was doubtful making helmets optional would lead to more cyclists.
’’We would argue that high-quality infrastructure, in particular separated bike lanes, is the most effective … way of making cyclists feel safe and making them feel that they want to ride a bike,’’ he said.
In 2007, almost 2300 cyclists were treated in hospital after traffic accidents.