Monday, August 31, 2009

Dispatch from Down Under – Brisbane Bikeways

While on Walkabout Down Under, we were tickled to see that the Brisbane City Council has announced plans for the controversial $1.6 million CityCycle bike hire scheme. Locations have been announced for the first 80 bike parking stations and the project will roll out in the middle of 2010.

CityCycle will allow people to pick up and drop off bikes at stations located across West End, Kangaroo Point, the City Business District (CBD), Fortitude Valley, New Farm and New Stead. The network, designed to reduce inner-city traffic congestion and parking demand, will then be expanded to take in St. Lucia, Toowong, Milton and South Brisbane with a final complement of 2000 bicycles across 150 stations.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, LADOT Bikeways staff proudly announced plans to add bike lanes to a small section of Reseda Blvd. that they claim is almost 1.5 miles in length. Transportation Engineers indicate that the bikes lanes would feature a painted line indicating the edge of the bike lane as well as a stencil of a cyclist and the phrase "Bike Lane" placed at regular intervals.

Reseda Blvd. already has 2 miles of bike lanes to the south, approximately 4.5 miles from the beginning of the proposed bike lanes, which will run to the north. This "slight" gap in connectivity in no way impedes a cyclist from enjoying a bike ride on Reseda Blvd. and will, in fact, get a cyclist within 1.5 miles of Cal State Northridge!

Both projects have received criticism, with CityCycle critics claiming that the $300 AU deposit per bicycle for casual rentals and the $150 AU deposit for subscription cyclists was prohibitive and would discourage use. However, Bicycle Queensland Manager Ben Wilson said it was a "fantastic" scheme and rejected criticism. "Anyone who gets their head into first gear can use it very cheaply with the annual subscription," he said.

The LADOT came under criticism for committing to such a small section of Reseda and for projecting that it would take a full year to finish the engineering for the project with the bike lanes finally installed in late 2010. LADOT officials were quick to point out that the painted line on the street needs to be straight when the road is straight and it needs to curve when the road curves.

When pressed to account for the length of time it takes to get bike lanes painted on the streets of Los Angeles, LADOT officials rejected the questions as "trashtalk" and reminded the audience that the bike lanes would be supported with little signs that said "Bike Lane" and that is when the project starts to get very complicated.

Brisbane is a city of 2 million people and cyclists have access to approximately 396 miles of bike trails and bike lanes.

Los Angeles is a city of 4 million people and cyclists have access to approximately 193 miles of bike trails and bike lanes.

Brisbane features the King George Square Cycle Centre, Australia's first major end-of-trip facility for cyclists and pedestrians using active transport to the Brisbane CBD.

The Cycle Centre is available on a membership basis and has a number of features including 420 individual bike racks, male and female change rooms with a total of 35 showers, lockers, ironing/laundry service, excellent security and cycle access direct to the door via Turbot Street or Roma/Herschel Streets from the Bicentennial Bikeway or through Roma Street Parklands from the north.

Los Angeles features curbside bike parking in a quantity sufficient to ensure one rack for every 2 miles of street, which means if you ever see two bike racks together, it will be 4 miles until you see another!

As for the Bike Boxes, Colored Bike Lanes, Lockers, Showers, Bike Stations and other amenities that Brisbane cyclists enjoy, Angelenos will just have to travel more if they'd like to experience them. Sad but true!

If there is ever any doubt that City of Los Angeles lacks vision, one need only take a look at the LADOT Bikeways Department and those doubts will be dispelled.

See you on the streets!

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