The last fortnight has seen several petrol price increases, just at the time when all the gas guzzling SUVs and people movers that have been sitting in their garages for the last year were starting to find their ways on to the streets again. All those people that thought last years record prices were a temporary blip need to take note, and start to prepare for much worse to come. Oil will become far too scarce a resource to waste powering a vehicle to move one person. And this has got to be a good thing for the environment, as less car use means less polluting emissions.
So it has been interesting to watch a number of developments over the same period of time, developments both political and scientific.
First, our own city council appears to be more dysfunctional than ever, with an amazing article in the Wellingtonian last week.
Confusion reigns over the Basin Reserve flyover. Some city councillors believe it will definitely be built, others think it is yet to be voted on, and a public opposition group is gathering strength to fight it.
“It is council policy that we support the flyover,” says Cr Andy Foster, while Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon says ‘…I don’t think we voted on the flyover.”
Meanwhile, in the States, (or at least two of them), legislators are trying to make up for the poor planning of their cities’ cycle ways. Every cyclist knows that annoyance of having to stop for a red light or a stop sign. Yes, we are officially vehicles, and must obey the road code, but the energy needs to restart after stopping are huge compared to those of maintaining speed. This is fine for cars, in which you simply put your foot down and the car accelerates, but on a bike you are supplying the motive power. Another problem that I personally experience, is that a lot of traffic lights are sensor activated. They register the weight of a car waiting, and change to allow that car to proceed. I (and my bike) weigh at a tenth of even the lightest car – not enough to trip the sensor. So I either wait (sometimes minutes) for a car to pull up, or go against the traffic light. Traffic planners have their parts to play in this, but where they fail, maybe a change to the law will help.
These are the questions raised by newly-proposed legislation in Oregon [and existing legislation in Idaho]. The statute, proposed by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, would allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs [give way in NZ terms!], requiring them to yield to traffic with the right of way, but otherwise allowing cyclists to roll through stop signs if they have the right of way…
[and in Idaho]
…A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a steady red traffic control light shall stop before entering the intersection and shall yield to all other traffic. Once the person has yielded, he may proceed through the steady red light with caution.
I mostly cycle to work before 7am, there is very little traffic around. I have clear visiblity in all directions approaching most intersections, it would be really lovely if I didn’t have to come to a full and complete stop at every stop sign.
Lastly, frogblog has an article about a laser projector bikelane. I agree with the comments that lights and reflectors would be a good idea too!, but it is astounding the number of cars which do not realise how wide a bike is. Any and all visual reminders are welcomed.
With the fantastic weather over summer, the bike lockup in my building is chocker every day. Hopefully, the number of people choosing this great means of transport can only increase, and our city planners get finally understand our needs – and that when 79% of people say they don’t want something, they should not build it anyway!
…Ms Prendergast said a new Mt Victoria tunnel should be a high priority, regardless of what submitters to the study say.