$11m for 1.5km highway but cyclists don’t get lane

3
867

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The upgrading of the North Stuart Highway between the Motor Vehicle Registry and the turn-off to the Old Telegraph Station ($11m for about 1.5 km) would rank a close second in the flagrant waste of taxpayer’s money stakes, behind the railway overpass south of town ($24m).

 

Some people may say it’s all Federal money so it’s OK.

 

Has anyone ever experienced a traffic jam on the North Stuart Highway? Or been delayed by a train on the South Stuart Highway, if at all, for more than a few minutes?

 

The Larapinta rail intersection in town and leading to Ilparpa have hugely greater traffic volumes yet they are a level crossing.

 

The new North Stuart Highway section, despite featuring four lanes of extra width, does not have bicycle lanes.

 

Why not? The NT Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics (DIPL), which had carriage of the work, won’t say. It hasn’t replied to the question we put to it on July 6.

 

The lack of the cycle facility is contrary to an announcement by DIPL in February 2019 which said the project would include an “off-road cycle and pedestrian path”.

 

Photo from cycle club Facebook site.

 

All the cyclists got were signs each end (pictured).

 

Yet the highway is the access to the uphill section of the road north of the town used by hundreds of local cycle competitors and other riders for training and racing.

 

The president of the Alice Springs Cycle Club, Brenda Bruce, says the club was consulted by the department and had “advocated for a bicycle lane”.

 

“But there are two lanes on that section of road [in each direction] and there should be no reason that cyclists should be put in danger there. People can just use the middle lane,” she says.

 

“It’s not that busy that two lanes should get used.

 

“We advocated successfully for getting a nice big sign.”

 

All this while cycling and cycle sales are booming around the world as people avoid crowds in public transports because of COVID.

 

 

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. I ride that route regularly and was similarly amazed that the marked bicycle lane ends before the dual before the new divided road, disappears for the duration of the new section, and then reappears.
    On the other hand the combined pedestrian and cycle track on the east side of the highway has been extended as far as the MVR, so I guess the commitment you mention in the article has been fulfilled.
    However the serious road cyclists who train on that section of road are not going to use the cycle path as they don’t want to have to give way at every side road and driveway on the route.
    The irony is that they successfully lobbied to get the highway widened and a marked cycle lane established all the way through the hills north of town, only to have a 1.5 km gap in the lane in the new section.
    It just looks bloody silly, and must be confusing to motorists.
    Mind you, the whole cycling infrastructure in Alice Springs needs reviewing.
    We have magnificent mountain bike tracks, and good combined paths for leisurely cycling, but the network is not joined up in a convenient fashion, without strange gaps and awkward manoeuvres required at the major intersections.
    Perhaps one of the political candidates could take this up as an issue, as it involves the NT Goverment controlled roads as well as the Council ones.

  2. In my opinion, in Alice Springs there are two categories of cyclists.
    The serious cyclist, is easily spotted by their cautious approach to riding, their riding style and their adherence to the road rules and their constant observance of their surroundings.
    Then there are the cyclists who don’t, the ones who ride with I-pod headphones in both ears, ride on footpaths or the wrong side of the road and without lights when it’s dark.
    They are oblivious to the fact that anyone else in the world even exists. The P\police should target this category.
    Back to the serious cyclist. It seems that some car drivers resent the fact that these cyclists exist, let alone dare to go on “their” roads.
    On may occasions, I have witnessed vehicles passing too close to these people and although the cyclists are unlikely to make any sudden changes of direction, there is always be the chance of a mechanical failure that causes them to lose control.
    In a very recent incident, I saw a police car pass a cyclist within less that 500 mm of the bike’s handlebars. You often see cars squeeeeeezing past cyclists, instead of slowing down and being a bit patient they choose to act like morons.
    I thought that there is a minimum distance required, but as the police can do it, other drivers feel they can too.
    Perhaps its time for the police to lead by example and give these cyclists the respect on the road they are entitled to an deserve.
    Cycle lanes should not be required IF all vehicle drivers had respect and showed courtesy to the cyclists.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here