N.B. I am not advocating that cycle lanes be 'discontinued' but that the configuration that is being established as 'the norm' in New Zealand is not 'the way forward' if we want to open cycling up to the 'general public'.

What's wrong with forcing cyclists to share the roads with cars (even in 'cycle-lanes')? 

*Requiring cyclists to relinquish the control they should have a right to, to unknown drivers of potentially lethal motor vehicles, is fundamentally a human rights issue as it deprives cyclists of the right to make snap decisions about which path is the safest and most appropriate for them in any given circumstance.

*Riding between parked and moving vehicles is fundamentally dangerous.

( if you wouldn't let young kids ride in such conditions, how can you agree with a law that expects and forces others to do it ? )

*Car doors opening into the path of cyclists are a constant and real threat.

*Motor vehicles cutting into the cycle-lane to undertake right-turning vehicles which have stopped in the middle of the road (the nature of traffic flow )

*Vehicles cutting across the path of cyclists before and when turning left or when pulling over to park.

*Vehicles cutting through queues of traffic do turn a right are often not visible to cyclists and are 

a particular danger.

*Vehicles pulling out of parallel and angle parks and pulling out of drive ways and side streets who are looking out only for other motor vehicles or who are dismissive of the presence of cyclists approaching.
( there are others.... )


08.08.02 To Vorb re Road Safety Concerns Evident In Bike Sheds ( from Gisborne, N.Z )

 "Mr Udall said some parents encouraged their children to ride on footpaths to avoid getting hit on the road.  "It is a concern when kids feel footpaths are safer than the roads," he said." 


Alan Preston's contribution to that thread...

  Having spent 10 accident and incident free years riding with 86 million other cyclists on the footpaths in Japanese cities and two stressful and very threatening years on the roads in New Zealand's ( mythically )'most cycle friendly' city  I can only say it is no wonder that the bike sheds of New Zealand's schools are empty ( or are even being removed !)
  The logic behind the law drafted by our non-cycling 'Authorities' that compels ALL bicycles ( being defined as 'vehicles') to share the road with motor vehicles while  depriving them  of THE CHOICE to ride (where they deem safe) to use the 'existing network of segregated facilities (i.e. those presently designated as 'footpaths' ) is fundamentally flawed.
 The fault is not in driver behaviour but in the very configuration that puts cyclists ( even in our beloved (but fatally flawed) cycle lanes ) between parked and moving vehicles with the greatest danger coming from car doors ,  vehicles cutting in to undertake right turning vehicles , cutting across the path of cyclists when  turning left,-or right , through queues of traffic etc etc etc...  I am confronted by these situations on a daily basis and it is only a matter of time before I'll become another statistic.
NEVER  in 10 years of riding every day  in Japan did I get 'doored' or 'wiped out' by a car and I never hit any of the thousands of pedestrians with whom I was sharing the pavements.

 Cyclists in Japan have always chosen to ride (despite the law which continues to  prohibit them from doing so), on the footpaths.
 Queensland , Australia has also made provision for those of us cyclists who have no interest in asserting our 'right' to ride motor alongside motor vehicles while a safe alternative exists.

I know where I'd rather be..
Alan Preston


Sydney bike plan: shared pavements

 read about Sydney's solution

 There are more ideal solutions,- that will require either the removal of the right of motor vehicles drivers to park beside roads,- or  a configuration ( which is used in Europe ) that puts parked cars further to the centre of the road with segregated cycle lanes running between them and the pedestrian footpaths.

 See also:



Cycling Safety on Bikeways vs. Roads
by John Pucher

The following article by John Pucher appears in the autumn 2001 issue of Transportation Quarterly, vol. 55, no. 4. It is Pucher’s reply to John Forester’s spring 2001 TQ article “The Bikeway Controversy,” where he opposes separate rights of way as well as any special provisions of any kind for cyclists. Read the original report which started the controversy “Making Walking and Cycling Safer: Lessons from Europe” [PDF Format] by clicking here.

In his spring 2001 article, John Forester argues that separate facilities for cycling are unnecessary and dangerous1. He claims that cycling in mixed traffic on roadways is far safer than any sort of bike lane or bike path. Thus, he strongly opposes the current efforts at federal, state, and local government levels to construct systems of bike paths and lanes. Furthermore, Forester opposes special provisions of any kind for cyclists, such as turning lanes at intersections or priority traffic lights. His recommendation is that all cyclists be forced to cycle on the roadway and learn to operate their bikes as they would motor vehicles. Forester calls this concept “vehicular cycling.”

Although Forester makes a number of theoretical arguments why bikeways are unsafe, his empirical test of the superiority of vehicular cycling is based on a sample of one-a single bike ride he took on a new bike path in Palo Alto, California. Cycling at the rapid speed he was accustomed to (from cycling on roadways), Forester estimates that the “risk rate was at least a 1,000 times greater on the sidepath than on the roadway.”

In fact, the overwhelming evidence is that cycling is much safer and more popular precisely in those countries where bikeways, bike lanes, special intersection modifications, and priority traffic signals are the key to their bicycling policies. As shown in our summer 2000 article “Making Walking and Cycling Safer: Lessons from Europe,” the modal split share of cycling is more than ten times higher in the Netherlands (28%), Denmark (20%), and Germany (12%) than in the USA, where fewer than one percent of urban trips are made by bike2. Moreover, the fatality rate per 100 million bike trips is less than a tenth as high in the Netherlands (1.6) and in Germany (2.4) as in the USA (26.3).

Forester does not dispute these statistics, and he cannot explain away the greater safety and popularity of cycling in northern Europe. If bikeways and bike lanes are so very dangerous, slow, and inconvenient-as he claims-then why is cycling overall so safe and so popular in the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany? Conversely, if vehicular cycling is so much safer, faster, and more convenient, then why is cycling so unsafe and so unpopular in the USA? Vehicular cycling, as Forester points out, is already possible on most urban roads (except limited access highways). Yet, with vehicular cycling already possible, and with Forester-inspired “effective cycling” classes offered all over the country, cycling still accounts for fewer than one percent of all urban trips.

Within the United States, Davis, California is generally recognized as having the most elaborate system of cycling facilities of any American city. It also has, by far, the highest bicycling modal split share (22%), and a very low fatality and accident rate, among the lowest in California. If Forester were correct that separate facilities are so dangerous, one would certainly expect Davis to be overwhelmed by all the resulting bicycling injuries and deaths. Yet cycling in Davis is extraordinarily safe3.

In short, those countries and cities with extensive bicycling facilities have the highest cycling modal split shares and the lowest fatality rates. Those countries and cities without separate facilities have low modal split shares and much higher fatality rates. Forester claims that this is pure correlation and proves nothing. Nevertheless, the differences we have cited are dramatic-indeed, an order of magnitude or greater-and they directly contradict Forester’s claim that separate facilities are so unsafe and inconvenient.

Whatever the merits of separate cycling facilities, they cannot be the sole policy to promote safe and convenient bicycling in the USA. In our summer 2001 TQ article, we recommended a multi-faceted approach that includes a wide range of measures to improve bicycling conditions:

  • traffic calming of residential neighborhoods
  • urban design oriented to people and not cars
  • restrictions on motor vehicle use
  • better traffic education of both motorists and nonmotorists
  • enforcement of traffic regulations protecting cyclists

Our summer TQ article specifically recommended accommodating the sort of “vehicular cycling” that Forester advocates, but certainly not to the exclusion of separate facilities. Moreover, in an earlier article cited by Forester, my colleagues and I insisted on enforcement of the legal rights of “vehicular cyclists” to use most urban roads. We also recommended that roads be made more “bikable” through wider curbside lanes and shoulders, drain grate replacement, pothole patching, clear lane striping, and bike-activated traffic signals4. In short, our policy package would permit vehicular cycling as well as cycling on separate facilities. Forester, by contrast, favors eliminating all choice by forcing all cycling onto roadways, regardless of what cyclists themselves prefer.

Forester’s policies are aimed at serving fast cycling by well-trained cyclists. All of his comparisons in the spring 2001 article are made only for the high cycling speed he advocates. He completely ignores the willingness, desire or need of most people to cycle at slower speeds. Thus, his analysis and policy recommendations apply mainly to the small group of high-speed, well-trained vehicular cyclists.

Separate paths and lanes are especially important for those unable or unwilling to do battle with cars for space on streets. Training courses may help, but they do not eliminate the inherent danger of cycling on the same right of way with motor vehicles, particularly for those whose mental or physical conditions limit their capacity to safely negotiate heavy traffic. The slowed reflexes, frailty, and deteriorating hearing and eyesight of many elderly make them especially vulnerable. Limited experience and unpredictable movements put children at special risk on streets. Moreover, regardless of age, many people prefer to avoid the anxiety and tension of cycling in mixed traffic, aside from the safety hazards. Bicycling should not be reserved only for those who are trained, fit, and daring enough to navigate busy traffic on city streets.

Forester admits in his article that virtually all surveys of the American public indicate that most people believe bikeways would be safer than cycling on roadways. Moreover they explicitly state that they would be far more likely to cycle if they had bikeways available. Clearly, Forester does not trust the preferences of ordinary people, whom he explicitly deems “most ignorant of the subject.” Thus, he finds all such surveys to be irrelevant. But if most people prefer cycling on separate facilities, why not at least offer them that possibility, so they can make the choice for themselves, instead of being forced onto the roadway by Forester’s proposed policy of no separate facilities at all?

Read the original report which started the controversy “Making Walking and Cycling Safer: Lessons from Europe” [PDF Format] by clicking here.