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Byron Shire
April 20, 2021

Cycling along

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Mark Oliver, Byron Bay

Very sad to hear about a local cyclist hit by a car and left to die. I was surprised to see this on page 4 of The Echo.

There was a post on the Byron Community Board Facebook page questioning whether cyclists should ride between Mullum and Byron on Myocum Road. Many car drivers were infuriated by the cyclists having the nerve to slow them down. Some even suggested you should be able to hit a few cyclists just to keep them on their toes. Yes, a little murder always keeps people on their toes but cooler minds just blast their horns and yell out the window.

Council now has a draft bike plan stating that bike crashes between 2012 and 2017 were only 11 in Byron Bay, one in Suffolk Park, zero in Mullum, one in Bangalow, and three in Ocean Shores. Seriously? These numbers sound extremely low.

My girlfriend spent about $5,000 trying to repair broken teeth from hitting a wooden post that council put at the centre of the bike path – ’cause you know that’s good design – but I guess that kind of accident doesn’t count. These bike-crash numbers are ridiculous at best.

Yes, the distances are small. Yes, you can ride a bike into town faster than taking a car. Yes, it’s healthy. Yes, it reduces carbon emissions… but sadly the prevailing attitude by our council and many drivers makes riding bicycles a very dangerous proposition.

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  1. Good points Mark. Many bike crashes do go unreported to police but a a local doctor has referred to an admission a week at Byron hospital. There are some poor designs on many older bike paths and, poor integration with the road system, and poor maintenance – all of which can cause accidents and explain in part why many cyclists prefer not to use the paths.

    We should always rebut commentary suggesting cyclist not ride on roads. People were riding on the roads around the Byron Shire before thee were cars. Cyclists pay their rates and taxes and are fully entitled to use the roads. It is very clear in law that motorists must drive in a way and at a sped that they do not hit vulnerable road users. Unfortunately in Australia we do not reinforce that principle and we allow much higher speed limits than are the norm in best practice countries. In countries like Japan and Northern Europe limits of 30 kph in residential areas, 40 kph in other urban areas and 50 – 60 kph on rural roads are now common, and the result is a much safer road environment for everyone, a larger cycle and walking transprot mode share especially among children, and lower road maintenance costs as a bonus.

    The good news is Byron and Ballina have much better uptake of cycling than other LGAs in Australia, with a lot more kids riding to school, and populations that are a bit less obsessed with speed than many others. . Councils should build on that and negotiate with government to create a slower and safer environment for all of us.

    • Well said Peter! With all future road engineering in the shire, a PBN [principal bicycle network] should be fully integrated into all road design, so that a safer link to all local towns, their schools, sports facilities etc.. is available to alternate transport like bicycles. [council did have a public bicycle survey 6 mths ago].
      Having ridden my bike throughout all the shires towns many times [& some O/S areas Peter mentioned] , many towns in the shire aren’t suitably networked for bicycles to get from A >B>C etc..; and enviro friendly ‘utility’ use of bicycles is definitely to be encouraged around densified town centres! [A future remodelled Johnson St…]
      From a tourism point of view, visitors who leave the car mainly in 1 spot & use the bicycle for local trips are tourists the shire needs to encourage! [Worldwide data casts cycle tourism very positively]

      The humble bicycle has a myriad of health benefits & can really assist in reducing our burgeoning auto reliance.

    • James A good sentiment but the advice form Railcorp and the environment department in 2004, and Arup in 2012, is that a train would not be viable and would not take a significant number of cars of the road. The recent report on the Byron Line similarly did not recommend trains but very light rail units – trains would not be compatible with multi-use of the corridor by walkers and cyclists. The reality is locals and visitors in the Northern Rivers use cars as their main transport, including in the Byron Shire where they have strongly resisted any attempt to limit their own use of cars with parking fees. The Byron Line report suggested its proposed very light rail might reduce traffic but particularly without disincentives for car use that apply to all road users including locals, it is difficult to see how small slow rail units would make more than a marginal difference.

      Within that reality we need to develop an environment for safer walking, cycling and mobility scooter transport, that allows them to share the roads safely, and encourages our visitors to cycle around our region on the rail trial and other safe routes, and to use public transport like the festival buses and any very light or Hi-rail rail service that manages to find funding.

  2. It is a great thing to be able to commute in a way other that vehicle transport as not all of us are able to do so.
    I don’t understand why council haven’t spoken with national parks to be able to create a bike/walk path on the fire trails that link our shire together.
    Shortest route, and would be loved by all in the community.

    Have a go you mugs.


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