Bike group pushes speed cuts

Slowly does it: Bike group wants speed cuts to make cycling safer. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

WA's leading bike-riding advocacy group wants to reduce speed limits on suburban roads - perhaps to as low as 30km/h - as part of its push to double cycling participation rates within six years.

In its strategy paper, Bicycling WA said most of Perth's potential cyclists considered cycling to be dangerous when riding alongside cars and vehicles.

"We believe we can make roads safer for all road users by reducing the speed limits in local suburban roads," it said in the soon-to-be-released paper.

"According to an overview of recent studies, at a collision speed of 20km/h, nearly all pedestrians survive a crash with a passenger car."

The paper said lowering the speed limit on residential streets would encourage cyclists and pedestrians on to the streets, reduce the need for separated bike lanes and dissuade motorists from using local roads as rat runs.

"Most importantly, lowering the speed limit is a low-cost strategy that can be rapidly implemented," it said.

The paper said Berlin had dramatically reversed its declining bike use by introducing 3800km of traffic-calmed neighbourhoods where local street speed limits are 30km/h.

The speed limit on Perth local roads is 50km/h but, in some precincts, it is as low as 40km/h.

Bicycling WA chief executive Jeremey Murray said the aim of the strategy was to have 800,000 WA people riding a bike in a typical week by 2020 - twice the current number.

He said this would increase cycling's share of all transport trips from 1.8 to 3.6 per cent.

The strategy paper said the potential for major increases in cycling in Perth had not yet been realised because of a lack of safe cycling facilities.

"In WA, nearly half of all car trips made are less than 5km," it said. "Interestingly, a 5km journey can be accomplished on a bicycle within a comfortable 15-20 minutes.

"Buildings that have secure bike parking and showers for cycle commuters will encourage more people to choose active transport over car transport, as will better secure storage facilities at train and bus stations encourage more people to combine cycling with public transport."

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