Melbourne riders crowdsource info on unsafe cycling infrastructure; Sydney academics warn of post-coronavirus car traffic surge

On Saturday, Nine News reported that a Melbourne woman hit by a stolen car while cycling in St Kilda was issuing a public appeal to the driver to turn themselves in to police. The incident occurred in March and was caught on CCTV. The footage shows the driver of a white Mercedes SUV undertaking a truck and crossing into the bike lane. The victim, 43-year-old Chantelle Prichard, was thrown onto the bonnet of the car before being hurled to the ground with serious injuries, including a fractured vertebrae.

Despite Prichard riding in a marked bicycle lane, using flashing bike lights and the incident occurring in a well-lit area, she was still hit by the car with enough force to cause the bonnet to concave. Police believe there was “no way” the driver was unaware that they had hit Prichard as they proceeded to do a U-turn before fleeing the scene of the crash.

The incident comes as St Kilda was nominated by local riders as one of the most dangerous places to ride in the city of Melbourne. As The Age reported on Thursday, more than 3000 cyclists have contributed so far to the BikeSpot 2020 platform developed by CrowdSpot with funding from the Amy Gillett Foundation. The platform is designed to crowdsource information about and draw attention to unsafe cycling infrastructure in the city.

In Melbourne’s CBD alone, users nominated 54 bicycle lanes, 38 intersections and 33 locations without bicycle lanes that were considered unsafe for cycling.

One of the study’s authors, Anthony Aisenberg, noted that “how people feel is the major influence on their behaviour” with regard to cycling participation. Feeling unsafe while riding, or the perception that cycling is dangerous, is a significant factor that keeps many Australians from engaging with active transport.

Social media users on The Age’s Facebook page were generally in agreement that riding on Melbourne roads presented a significant fear factor that dissuaded them from cycling more.

In other news, University of Sydney senior lecturer Geoffrey Clifton has warned that the city of Sydney would need to make changes to its urban transportation mix as COVID-19 restrictions ease and businesses begin to reopen. As The Sydney Morning Herald reported, Dr Clifton and other transport experts are warning that a surge of commuter traffic could be expected as people avoid crowded public transport in favour of private vehicles. To address this, the government must consider extending peak hour services and persuade businesses to alter their normal work hours.

UTS transport expert Mathew Hounsell also told The Sydney Morning Herald that the government needed to consider replacing roads and parking lanes with temporary bike lanes, while encouraging Sydneysiders to take two wheels instead of four.

On Friday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian stated that “we don’t want any more people, at this stage, catching public transport in peak”, asking Sydney residents to consider the health risk presented by a possible second wave of coronavirus infections.

In South Australia six regional councils have announced plans to build a major bike trail dubbed the Adelaide Wine Capital Cycle Trail. As the ABC reported on Thursday, the planned 250km trail would travel through 22 towns extending from the McLaren Vale region through the Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley, ending up in the Clare Valley. Advocates for the planned cycling route say that it could provide much needed economic stimulus for a region that was hit hard by bushfires in early 2020.

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