For the purpose of safety and to clarify on NZTA’s advertising concept ‘See the person, Share the Road’ an e-petition channelling the overseas experience was made live today. http://wellington.govt.nz/have-your-say/epetitions/petitions/current/2015-05-a-bylaw-to-enforce-cyclists-use-cycle-lanes-where-provided-at-all-times
The petition proposes a bylaw change to restrict cyclists to cycle lanes when they are available.
The overseas experience shows cyclist are required to use cycle lanes where provided and is embedded in their Road Code.
In discussions with interest groups regarding separated cycle lanes in Island Bay it was suggested the commuter cyclist would not use them based on a theory the speed of cyclists on the purpose built lanes would slow them down.
As much as I like having rules and enforcement, my preference is to use design to encourage behaviour instead of legislation, but I think there’s a reasonable discussion that could happen. Reading through comments on various social media, the issue of cycleways not being used by all cyclists comes up regularly.
How would a bylaw like this fare in terms of consistency?
- Buses are not required to use bus lanes. Drivers of Route 32 often stay out of the bus lane along Kent Terrace because the cost of merging at the Basin Reserve is higher than the benefit of bypassing traffic in the other lanes.
- Cars are not required to stay on arterial routes and avoid local roads.
- Pedestrians are meant to stay on footpaths when available, but legality of crossing is only specified within 20m of a signal or pedestrian crossing.
If the bylaw were in place, how likely would it be adhered to and how likely would it be enforced? There’s no point in creating an ineffective law. We already struggle with all sorts of traffic problems, such as parking on footpaths or running red lights, where personal convenience is driving the bad behaviour and enforcement is either difficult or institutionally ignored.
The bylaw would have to presume that a given cycleway is fit for purpose. A cyclists shouldn’t be forced into an unsafe path. Would the bylaw then be limited to separated cycleways or would green-stripes through the door zone be included? Given the level of vulnerability to injury, cyclists are often having to choose between paths, balancing risks. For the bylaw to be effective, all cycleways would need to be designed to accommodate the needs of all cyclists. Which brings me back to my statement of preference above: if we can design a cycleway to be universally attractive, it would be more effective that a bylaw.
My opinion is certainly not the only one out there. Use the comment section below and let me know what you think about this. Would there be benefits of a bylaw beyond those of building good cycleways?