Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Does your Victorian state MP support safe cycling paths in Melbourne?

I have sent this open letter to every Member of Parliament in Victoria.

I will add a list of who responds to the bottom of this page.

Wearing leg splint soon after the injury 

Leg splint, in hospital 
2014 VicRoad Principal Bicycle Network (PBN) - note route along Burwood Road Hawthorn


Dear  [ Victorian State MP ]

I was cycling to work on Monday 10 February 2014 down the Burwood Road hill from Burke Road travelling at about 40km/h in the bike lane.

Towards the bottom of the hill, a car travelling in the opposite direction was approaching to turn right into Gillman St. As I approached I expected the car to give way to me while I passed, but it turned right in front of me blocking the road. I braked hard but was only able to slow to about 20km/h before crashing into the car.

The right hand side of my body (shoulder, hip and leg) hit the passenger door of the car hard side on. I bounced off and hit the road screaming in severe pain. The motorist stopped and was apologetic. She said she did not see me as the sun was in her eyes.

The car has a broken windscreen and dented door from my impact. My right shoulder, right hip and right knee were extremely painful.

An ambulance then took me to Box Hill hospital emergency department. I was examined by doctors and X-Rays were taken. I was informed late in the day that the top of my fibula was fractured. The very sore spots on my shoulder and hip luckily did not have bone fractures. One week later an ultrasound revealed serious blood clots in my lower right leg. These are potentially life-threatening, so I am now taking blood thinning medication to lower the risk of embolism.

I have been informed that my injuries and loss of earnings will be covered by TAC as a motor vehicle was involved in the crash and the driver was at fault.

The Hawthorn to Box Hill Trail

I have been campaigning as a member of the Boroondara Bicycle Users Group (BBUG) for over a decade to get a safe cycling route provided in an east west direction through the City of Boroondara. This proposal is know as the Hawthorn to Box Hill Trail. You can read details about the route here:

The Hawthorn to Box Hill trail offers the following advantages:

  • Provide a dedicated cycling route that will keep bicycles safely separated from cars 
  • Provide transport linkages between the Camberwell and Glenferrie Road Central Activity Districts (CADs) and several smaller shopping centres. 
  • Reduce traffic congestion 
  • Promote sustainable transport in a future likely to be impacted by rising fuel costs and the need to reduce carbon emissions. 
  • Promote healthy lifestyles for people of all ages through recreational and commuter cycling. 
  • Encourage many people to cycle who otherwise wouldn't and would greatly improve safety for those who already do 
  • Provide a safe cycling route for students at over twenty schools and education institutions to use. 
This route is supported by the Boroondara Council. Andrew McIntosh (MP for Kew) and Robert Clark (MP for Box Hill) have both advised me that they support the route proposal in meetings I have had with them.

A detailed proposal for this route was first issued in 1996. Since then, virtually nothing has happened.

The latest draft of VicRoads Principal Bicycle Network (PBN) has a section of the route from Box Hill to East Camberwell marked as a primary cycle route, yet nothing has happened to realise this.

There is now a proposal to build a 4th rail line along the Box Hill line easement within a 10 to 20+ year time frame. The rail easement land available for this has been unused for decades, much of it grows weeds.

A recent Department of Transport study found that the financial payback period for bicycle paths is under 10 years.

There is therefore a compelling case to build the Hawthorn to Box Hill trail along the Box Hill line rail easement and then rebuild it if and when the 4th line is constructed.

There is currently no safe east west cycle route through Boroondara.

Cyclists travelling east west through the centre of the City of Boroondara either use back streets (and cross very busy roads such as Bourke Road, Glenferrie Road and Power Street) or they use roads that carry very heavy traffic such as:
  • Mont Albert Road (very narrow bike lane, often obscured by parked cars) 
  • Riversdale Road (trams, parked cars, some wide curbside lanes) 
  • Burwood Road Hawthorn (parked cars, some wide curbside lanes) - this is currently the worst cycling black spot of collisions in Boroondara, and is also marked as a PBN priority cycling route. 
  • Barkers Road (parked cars, no bike lanes) 
  • Whitehorse Road (parked cars, trams, some super stops, no safe bicycle lanes)
Bike lanes vs bike paths
Transport planners in VicRoads and local governments are implementing and promoting marked bicycle lanes on many major and minor roads. However, such routes are not a substitute for dedicated bike/pedestrian trails, as evidenced by the very high bicycle and pedestrian usage of routes such as the Gardiners Creek Trail and Main Yarra Trail.

 My concerns with bike lanes marked on roads are:
  • Many lanes, such as those on Burwood Rd down from Burke Road, are directly adjacent to parked cars, so "car dooring" is a very real risk to cyclists. I have seen car-dooring crashes happen on Auburn Road. 
  • Cars frequently push out across bicycle lanes from side streets when traffic in the main road is congested. Many drivers do not look for cyclists. I frequently experience this along Auburn Road Hawthorn. 
  • Cars also cross bicycle lanes when they turn into side streets. Again, many drivers do not look for cyclists. I also frequently experience this along Auburn Road Hawthorn. 
  • Some drivers do look for cyclists but continue on regardless and cross bicycle lanes even when they see cyclists coming. 
  • Bike lanes marked by paint to do not provide any real protection to cyclists. Some even have cars regularly parked across them, completely obstructing them (e.g. Mont Albert Road, Highfield Road). 
  • Bikes and cars DO NOT mix safely on roads, it is really only a matter of time before a regular cyclist such as myself is involved in an unavoidable crash with a car or truck, as you can see from my recent experience. 
  • I think around 80% of the general public does not cycle on roads, including those with bike lanes due to the obvious dangers. 
The TAC costs associated with numerous bicycle-car crashes in this region could amount to millions of dollars over a 10 year period, and there have also been deaths. This money would be better spent preventing collisions, injuries and deaths by providing safe cycle routes separated from cars and trucks.

In summary, I suggest that funds be immediately allocated for the planning and construction of the Hawthorn to Box Hill Trail, using land in the Box Hill line railway easement where possible.

My questions to you are:
  1. Do you support funding for the Hawthorn to Box Hill Trail (HBHT) to be built? 
  2. Do you support funding for a bicycle route network across Melbourne that is safely separated from cars and trucks?
  3. What are you doing personally as an elected representative to provide the community with safe cycling infrastructure?
Yours faithfully,

Peter Campbell
Home address supplied

  • Robert Clark, Box Hill 9/2/14, support for Hawthorn to Box Hill trail
  • Tim Bull, East Gippsland 19/2/14 
  • Greg Barber, Northern Metropolitan 19/2/14
  • Neil Angus, Forest Hill 20/2/14, support for Hawthorn to Box Hill trail
  • Terry Mulder, Polworth 20/2/14, correspondence noted for response.
  • Inga Peulich, South East Metropolitan Region 20/2/14 correspondence noted
  • Heather Uebergang for Heidi Victoria, Baywater 20/2/14 correspondence noted
  • Edward.O'Donohue, Eastern Victoria Region 20/2/14. correspondence referred to Robert Clark
  • Denise Whitelaw for Mary Wooldridge, Doncaster 20/2/14. correspondence referred to Robert Clark
  • Nicole Fewson for Nick Wakeling, Ferntree Gully 20/2/14. Acknowledges concerns re cycling.
  • John Lenders, Southern Metropolitan Region 21/2/14. Personal support for Hawthorn to Box Hill trail, investigating possible savings from avoiding TAC claims.
  • Sue Pennicuik, Southern Metropolitan Region 21/2/14. 
  • Graham Watt, Burwood 21/2/14. Regular cyclist, supports improved bicycle infrastructure
  • Bruce Atkinson, Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region 21/2/14. Supports funding for the Hawthorn to Box Hill trail and other cycling infrastructure.
  • Don Nardella, Melton 24/2/14. Will keep comments in mind when we have these discussions within the Labor Party.  We have the same issues out in the West where I am as well.
  • Luke A Donnellan, Narre Warren North 25/2/14. We are still developing our policy for bike paths and like. Happy to provide outline of our intentions at a later date.
  • Jonn Deller for Ryan Smith, Warrandyte 25/2/14.  Referred matter to Terry Mulder, Transport Minister.
  • Staffer for Dee Ryall, Mitcham 25/2/14 (phone call). Dee has supported work and progress on the Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail. 
  • Cindy McLeish, Seymour 2/3/14. Referred to local member.
  • Peter Ryan, Gippsland South 4/3/14. Referred to Terry Mulder, Transport Minister.
  • Georgie Crozier, Southern Metropolitan, 6/3/14.  Sorry to hear of your cycling accident. Referred  development of Box Hill to Ringwood Trail to Terry Mulder
  • Denis Napthine, South-West Coast 11/3/14 (letter). Referred to Terry Mulder, Transport Minister.
  • Fiona Richardson, Northcote 17/3/14. Referred to Luke Donellan, Labor's Shadow Minister for Road (which takes in bikes) 
  • Michael Gidley, Waverley 26/3. Sorry to hear of your cycling accident. I'm working hard in my electorate to improve a number of local and state-wide paths and other cycling opportunities.
  • Andrea Coote, Southern Metropolitan, 26/3. Referred  development of Box Hill to Ringwood Trail to Terry Mulder.
*Names in bold denote positive partial response to questions.

  • Mon 10/2 - collision, Box Hill Hospitable Emergency ward all day 10/2
  • 12/2 to 14/2. Returned to work. Mobility very difficult and taking pain killers. 
  • 16/2 New pain in lower right calf when standing - Emergency Epworth, injection to thin blood
  • 17/2 Ultrasound. Clots found - given prescription to thin blood.  Box Hill Hospital orthapaedic - advised not to wear brace
  • 19/2 walked to Through Rd slowly. Knee bending a bit better but still very stiff. Difficult to walk up or down steps. Soreness at fracture point when knee bent and loaded. 
  • 20/2 Calf sore, knee stiff, fracture site sore. May have overdone it yesterday. Resting in bed.  Still difficult walking up and down stairs.
  • Fri 21/2. Last night the leg was sore Pain in the calf where the clots are. Getting more movement in my knee and feeling a bit better walking up and down stairs.
  • Sun 23/2. Rode folding bike slowly to Maling road.  Leg stiff but not too much pain.  Can now bend my knee without much discomfort.
  • Mon 24/2. Doctors appointment for previous back injury (fractured L1, L3 transverse processes). They have healed. Doctor noted subsequent (leg) injury in notes to GP.  Called in at work. Walking better but fracture site still sore.
  • Thu 27/2. Caught the train into work.  Leg feeling much better. Walking without too much of a limp and not much pain.  Swelling going down too.
  • Sun 2/3.  Kitesurfing again.  1 hour session.  Leg a bit sore afterwards but o.k. during the session, except for right tacks that were a bit painful.
  • Wed 12/3 to Fri 14/3. Three days off work to rest further. Right knee sore near fracture.
  • Sat 15/3, Sun 16/3. Kitesurfing both days. Leg was good, no pain.
  • Mon 17/3. Leg has improved further, I can walk normally now with no pain.
  • Tue 18/3.  X-rays at Box Hills hospital showed break has healed well.  All clear from the doctor to resume normal physical activity. 
  • Wed 26/3. Cycled to work off roads as much as possible. Bike is veering to the left so I am getting it checked for damage.  Still very wary of all cars now.


James said...

If Boroondara Council is genuinely supportive, they could prohibit parking on Mont Albert Rd and Wellington St tomorrow. Both are council roads where parked cars are a safety hazard to cyclists. If I cycle to work late ( 8.30 ) I actually use Barkers Rd because Wellington St is so full of off-road vehicles delivering princes and princesses to the private schools there.

Peter Campbell said...

James, I agree about more prohibitions on parking where there are bike lanes that are supposed to improved safety for cyclists.

Unfortunately, the motorists lobby sways Council away from such actions. They fear the backlash.

So cyclists will continue to have car does opened in their path and roads blocked by cars taking children to schools and kindergartens.

Russ Eden said...

Hi Peter, I feel you pain mate. Good that you are recovering now. I went down on 5th Feb from pretty much same scenario, same speed, same road but down at Glenferrie intersection - car turned right in front opt me with no other interfering traffic, and claimed not to see me. Hit the boot and bounced off onto the tram tracks at about 20kmph. Broken collar bone, broken ribs, large haematoma on RHS of abdomen and hip, cuts and bruises, bike crumpled and ruined. There has to be a safer way to get around Melburn ! Cheers, Russ.

Peter Campbell said...

Russ, very sorry to hear you suffered a similar collision. Those injuries are serious. Rest up and get well. Its the most dangerous road for cyclists in Boroondara. I will be avoiding most roads from now on. Cycling is great but its not worth dying or getting smashed up. Take care.

Hamster said...

Hi Peter
I am sorry to hear of your accident. I am a friend of Russ Eden and bike rider. I had an accident on Mont Albert Rd about 5 years ago - I was city bound and driver turned right in front of me without giving way. He was on the phone at the time. My injuries were more superficial than yours. The ambulance guys talked of 'picking up' many cyclists in the traffic corridor between the Gardner's Creek Bike Trail and Yarra River Trail. So I fully support a Box Hill - Hawthorn - Richmond Bike Trail. Lets hope we all stay safe in teh mean time until it comes to fruition. All teh best for a speedy recovery. Joe Spano

Peter Campbell said...

Joe, thanks for your support. It sounds like all three of us have had very similar collisions with drivers being clearly at fault.

Many just don't seem to see bikes. I will get an online petition going for the Hawthorn to Box Hill trail route and circulate the link.

I walked my daughter to school today so me leg is getting better.