16 March 2009

On (or off) your bike

Two variations on a cycling theme

#1 Bike parking provision

The photo on the left shows a cycle stand in Rundle St East. A very worthy idea, but why is it necessary to take up a car parking space when the pavements are wide enough to permit bike stands to be placed parallel to the kerb, as they are on the other side of the street?

Unfortunately this situation has been replicated at several other places in the CBD.

I'm a keen cyclist and was happy with the amount of cycle parking space available in the city before this latest surge. After all if you can't find an officially designated place to park your bike
there are always street signs or railings nearby as backups.

I think that the benefits of cycling are self-evident. Unfortunately many car drivers and people who live in the hills don't agree and, especially the former, often express their disdain for cyclists in the media. Some of the most prominent cycling advocates, eg the bike shop proprietor who repaired my bike and who thought that a day promoting cycling and walking should be held on a working day rather than a weekend, veer towards crackpottery and reinforce negative perceptions instead of engaging in dialogue

#2 Bikes, bureaucrats and Belair trains

I took the photo on the right on the 1255 Adelaide- Belair train on Sunday after it stopped at Mitcham and took on a significant number (at least 12 I estimate though I didn't count them) of mostly young mountain bikers. They normally travel to a station in the hills and ride (possibly illegally) down the steep slopes to Mitcham.

The train was, as the photo shows, not well patronised, yet the TransAdelaide attendant on board and a "security contractor" on the platform prevented at least three young cyclists from boarding, leaving them to wait an hour for the next service. When I spoke to the attendant he said that safety "laws" laid down a maximum number of bikes on each train. No doubt it was more than his job was worth to vary the application of these laws (though before we arrived at Mitcham he did advise me to move my bike - the blue one in the foreground of the photo- to make one more space for the newcomers).

TransAdelaide does make some effort to cater for cyclists using the Belair line but the goodwill it generates is diminished by the rigid application of policies and procedures (to call them "laws" is disingenuous claptrap). As signs at stations say, once people step on to a platform they are demonstrating an intent to travel, so why can't TA do more to accommodate intending passengers with bikes?

Perhaps parents and guardians whose cycling children use trains should know that on the TransAdelaide network inflexibility overrides commonsense. Will it take a serious incident to bring about change?

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