Last month I wrote a rather controversial post about the importance of making cycling not only actually safer, but also making it perceived as being safer. In that post I argued that our current tendency to focus on providing cycle lanes in a bare minimum manner – generally by just slapping on a bit of green paint and putting up a few road signs – may be nice for the stereotypical ‘lycra-clad road warriors’, but it’s unlikely to really help expand the proportion of the population that chooses to cycle. In effect, while this minimal upgrade approach might actually help make a particular road safer, it is less likely to make the road feel safer – because you’re still in the same environment as big scary cars and buses. Who’s seriously going to let their 12 year old kid cycle to school along Mt Albert Road, even if it does have a bit of green paint at intersections and a few “cycle lane” signs?
A problem with taking my approach – the “if you’re going to do a cycle lane, get it off the road” approach – is that typically it’s likely to be pretty expensive on a per metre basis and involve a fair amount of disruption. Finding a cheap, easy and quick way to install proper separated cycle lanes seems like quite a challenge – which is why I find the following video pretty damn exciting:
It is entirely feasible to see this type of cycle lane being introduced along a number of arterial roads in Auckland I think. While there are likely to be some safety concerns regarding visibility of cyclists to cars turning in and out of driveways, I think that getting the cyclists out of the road environment and ‘protecting them’ through having a buffer of parked cars has some pretty significant safety benefits – particularly when it comes to improving the perceived safety of cycling. One can imagine a Ponsonby Road dieted to one lane in each direction, with the space saved dedicated to a top class cycle lane. It would be pretty awesome.