How much can infrastructure influence peoples behaviour on the streets? Here we can look at the intersection of Foundry Way; a short lane way linking an arterial road and the quiet dead end South Wharf Drive. Notably it has a bicycle route running across the junction top to bottom as seen here, connecting to the shared path heading off the top of the view.
The shared path (in teal) is of sensible width and joins pedestrians onto well connected footpaths (in blue), but they are abutted hard against the buildings and fences so vehicles stopped at the set back give way line have little visibility to either side. This leaves the bicycle route without priority at the junction where stop signs could have been used on the other arms with little change to the delay for residents. But this is all par for the course along with a “soft” treatment of lumpy cobblestones to break up the continuity ignoring the minimum requirements for surface finishes of bicycle routes.
Worryingly the lanes of the terminating arm are just 2500mm (8 feet 2 inches) wide each, where the minimum for traffic lanes is normally 3000mm (9 feet 10 inches). This is specifically called out as a problem in the Australian guides:
Narrow lane widths (3.0 m or less) should not be promoted where significant numbers of child and/or inexperienced cyclists are likely to occur, as it would be inappropriate from a safety perspective. In these instances off-street bicycle paths should be considered to physically separate cyclists from vehicles.
And the flat cycling route is very much attracting inexperienced and child cyclists. The lanes are narrowed to accommodate plantings either side of the road providing a buffer to the footpaths, so there was space to find other solutions. But standing in the intersection it simply feels out of scale with the narrow residential streets with the long setbacks and large radiuses corners. It all becomes clear when you overlay the Australian Standard (85th percentile) passenger vehicle turning template.
These default design templates with an 8000mm (26 feet) turning radius include an additional 300mm (12 inches) of clearance either side of the vehicle and just replicate the sweeping curves of excessive speed, a lazy design taking space away from pedestrians to make the environment unpleasant with faster traffic and further distance to cross the road. Overlaying instead the template for a “Medium Rigid” truck of 8800mm (29 feet) length as might be typically associated with house moving there is still room to further reduce the corner radii and/or let the vehicle overhang the footpaths somewhat.
Such trucks would be a very rare movement and the professional driver (requiring a special license for such a vehicle) could utilise multiple lanes to manoeuvre or simply take the other exit of South Wharf Drive which has a more open geometry. But back to the everyday drivers we get this.
Having approached the intersection at a slow pace due to the limited visibility the cyclists have pulled up behind the give way line and waited for the vehicle to clear the intersection. Instead the driver of this White Mitsubishi with number plates 1GK 7VN turns into the path of the cyclist and dives at them as the rear of their vehicle sweeps its path. Displeased by the door knock on the side of their vehicle they pulled up and got out.
With the vehicle still stopped across the dividing line, they
mancarsplained that we should show some consideration and get out of their way. An interesting position to take when their vehicle is able to make tighter turns than the design pattern which has adequate space to fit with its 300mm buffer.
That drivers can be so brazen in their disregard for either road rules or care of other peoples safety speaks volumes of the level of policing in Melbourne, such drivers will continue to intimidate other users unless there is something to stop them but the police won’t get involved in such trivialities so its on with the motorised oppression.