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Response to a letter in Mercury

posted Oct 4, 2012, 4:18 PM by Austin Greenwood   [ updated Oct 7, 2012, 6:51 PM ]

In response to David Hurburgh ('Bike lane reality check', Oct 5), advocates of the Sandy Bay Walking and Cycling Project have taken a reality check. It's called research. It comes in the form of data from other cities as well as data on our own riders and residents. Hobart City Council has undertaken various surveys and bike counts to determine actual and projected levels of use. Lower Sandy Bay and Taroona has a particularly high proportion of residents who would like the healthy option of commuting, shopping and visiting by bike. 2012 data show 60 bike riders per hour on Sandy Bay Road. Roger Geller's work in Portland, Oregon shows that if you only cater to the 'strong and fearless' who don't mind mixing with cars, then you'll only get a few percent of people riding. Provide separated facilities, as is proposed along Sandy Bay Road, and you get dramatic uptakes in cycling. If the facility is upgraded, people will ride. Again, data from many other cities shows what is possible. The Swiss city of Basel is built on the steep banks of the Rhine and yet 23% of journeys are made by bike. In Bern, where many roads have a gradient of 7%, 15% of journeys are made by bike. Traffic engineers at the Council have demonstrated that Sandy Bay Road is wide enough to accommodate a variety of modes of transport, without disruption the flow for buses and cars. Given health benefits of physical activity and the possibility of overcoming hills with pedal-assist electric bikes, Hobart needs this infrastructure to give residents the option of leaving their cars behind.