sign directing cyclists to leave the road

Timed to Disaster

12 Months in since raising the immediate danger presented by the intersection of Lorimer St, Wurundjeri Way, and Montague Streets the result is having received several dismissive responses that each fail to address the concerns raised and of course no changes to the problem. To further explain one of the simple problems of traffic light timing is this composite video to show cyclists travelling through the intersection as if they cross the stop line as the traffic light turns amber.

This does not even represent a corner case or extreme example, several mitigating factors are already making this example safer for the virtual cyclists:

  • Travelling at 24km/h the second cyclist is already much faster than the average and design speed for bicycle infrastructure, at the design speed they would arrive 2.5 seconds later.
  • The intergreen period shown in the video is longer than typical for this intersection and more commonly the cross traffic would be released 2 seconds earlier.
  • Moving from a stop the cross traffic is slower into the intersection than traffic which was already in motion as the light turns green delaying them by 0.5 seconds.
  • The cross traffic accelerates slowly by choice and through the vehicles shown in this example slowing their arrival to contention with the path of cyclists by 1 second.

Tallying these up there is at least another 6 seconds of intergreen period required to protect normal situations (still not covering the extreme corners), and despite all the mitigation in the example the cyclist still ends up in the path of the cross traffic. The danger is not a theoretical possibility but a routine occurrence that cannot be predicted by cyclists entering the intersection along the on road bicycle lane.

The government ombudsman accepted an application for investigation and after more than 4 months has concluded that as plans are in place by VicRoads to possibly improve some of the situation in the first half of 2016 that no further action needs to take place. Numerous significant deficiencies exist in the constructed design but every attempt to raise them specifically ends with diversions to other issues which are possibly going to be solved and the real problems are not addressed. On the question of how cyclists are expected to travel through the intersection they replied with suggesting a detour along the proven dangerous wooden wharf and this comedic answer for those cyclists instead following the on road bicycle path into the intersection:

“if cyclists wish to use Lorimer Street through to [other streets], they are permitted to join a traffic lane and ride within the traffic as is the case at many other intersections”

Which of course explains VicRoads choice of signage where the on road bicycle lane is terminated without merging into the other lanes.
sign directing cyclists to leave the road
Larger images and descriptions of these terminations are here and here.

The fundamental problem remains that such a dangerous intersection for cyclists and pedestrians with so many deficiencies could be built at all. Yet when the ombudsman tried to answer this question by requesting the audit documents for the project:

“VicRoads was not able to locate and provide these documents”

And that was that for the ombudsman, no need to find any documentation to show that VicRoads acted lawfully, they just close the case without addressing the complaint.

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