The Brisbane Times investigates How safe is Cycling in the City?

Forgive me please for yet another cycling-related post. It’s Le Tour Fever. At least it’s only got two and a half weeks to go!

I just stumbled across this interesting video by the Brisbane Times. A reporter used Brisbane’s CityCycle bike sharing scheme to address the question, How safe is cycling in the city? It’s not at all analytical but I did pick up on three interesting factoids.

First, there’s now a 40 km/h limit on most CBD streets in Brisbane. Exceptions are one-way Turbot St and Ann St where the limit is still 60 km/h (both feed on to the freeway IIRC). Other capitals should watch and learn from this initiative.

Second, you’re allowed to ride on the footpath in Qld except where it’s otherwise signed, according to Andrew Demack from Bicycle Queensland. In Brisbane, the only place you can’t ride is on the Queen St mall and the footpaths around the mall.

I’m very doubtful about cycling on footpaths – cyclists and pedestrians sharing space is a recipe for conflict. Might work OK in the short term while cyclist numbers are still relatively modest, but cycling doesn’t need opposition from both drivers and pedestrians.

Third, Andrew Demack also reckons hundreds of cyclists are hospitalised each year from contact with vehicles but the number of deaths is very small. We’re often told cycling is a great deal safer than most people imagine, but a lot of that discussion is couched in terms of fatalities.

Perhaps people aren’t irrational after all – they’re just as fearful of sustaining a serious brain injury or quadraplegia from a conflict with a car as being killed. Cyclists who mix it with cars are vulnerable. Better cycling infrastructure and improvements to the law to gain more regard from motorists remain the highest priority.

All of the cycling in the video is in or very close to Brisbane’s CBD. Like Melbourne Bikeshare, Brisbane’s CityCycle’s performance has been lacklustre. That’s doubtless partly down to the difficulty of getting access to a helmet, but it’s evident there’s also still a lot of work to do on the safety front in order to attract more riders.