Disappearing road

  • Sumo

This is about some poor road planning, as I see it, that increases danger to cyclists. In two cases, there was a safe riding option that road authorities changed into a dangerous one. In the third case, a careless use of road markings suggests a safe place to ride but increases the risks.

All these examples are in Albury, but I don’t pretend to know who is responsible for each decision and piece of roadwork. For that reason, I am not naming and blaming any local or state authorities. This is a post to point out seemingly thoughtless road set-up.

Atkins St, South Albury

This road is quite new, with a good surface and wide shoulders. Recently there was a change needed – an entry to the parking area for Albury Railway Station. Before the change, there were two lanes going north and one lane south. To make the right turn lane, a third north-going lane was added. The shoulder went from full width to zero.

In the video, you can see former shoulder-lane divider (now painted black), with ‘straight ahead’ arrows painted onto this part of the road surface. The part of the road is already on a curve, so the possibility of being on a bike and hit from behind has increased considerably.

Kaitlers Rd, Springdale Heights

This is a major road in Albury’s north. Running east-west, it receives plenty of traffic. East-west is important, because it means that sun in the eyes is a major problem at certain times. (At the eastern end of Kaitlers Road there are now traffic lights. These lights were put in place after a man was killed at the intersection early one morning. Coming home after night shift he was probably blinded by the morning sun. The media reports included plenty of, ‘We always said the sun makes this intersection dangerous.’)

When some shops were put in on a street corner, the wide shoulder was reduced to zero to create a turning lane for the shopping car park. Would it not have been possible for the car park entry to be on the smaller side street?

As the video starts, you can see the bike symbol painted on the road. I edited out about a kilometer of footage before the present start – the lane has plenty of these painted signs. Just as the lane/shoulder disappears, you can see briefly a signpost on the left: bike lane. What is the point of that? Did someone feel guilty? I am confident it makes no safety difference at all.

To make this decision even worse, the disappearing lane is about 200m from a large high school. The resumption of a normal lane is precisely where the ‘school zone, 40km/h’ starts. Australia says that students should increase their activity levels. And then we act to make riding in the vicinity of school more dangerous. Message and action, in this case, do not agree with each other.

Urana Rd, Lavington

This is a different kind of problem. Urana Rd is a very pleasant tree-lined drive into town. On Atkins St and Kaitlers Rd, the changes were from a good and safe set-up to a dangerous one. I have a lot more sympathy for the difficulty of marking Urana Rd safely. Yet I think it was not done too well.

In the video you will see that the left side of the road has two markings. Broken lines mark parking bays. About a metre away, a solid line apparently indicates the border between cycle lane and motor vehicle lane. Unfortunately, the ‘cycle lane’ is not safe. If anyone were to try and ride it, they would either have to swerve repeatedly into motor traffic, or ride straight ahead into tree roots.

When riding this road, it’s safest to ignore the solid line by riding a metre to the right. This avoids trees, as well as avoiding dangerous and unpredictable swerving. My suggestion for the road markers would be forget the solid line – just include the broken lines.

Thanks to my son Nahum for providing the camera work, keeping us both safe and legal while I did the driving.