Sunday, 23 December 2012

Shopping with a bicycle

On Friday I decided to visit Claremont to buy some new socks. It was a beautiful day and I wanted a reason for a ride. I could have gone into central Perth but I decided to find out how the "shared space" in Bay View Terrace was progressing. I did a blog post about it in October. At that time there were no bicycle racks installed. I was not too critical of that issue because there were still a few jobs being finished within the street and I hoped they would come later. Well, it has been two months and there are still no bicycle racks. In practical terms it is probably OK. As you can see from this photo, the tree protectors serve as convenient places to lock our bicycles. 

Bay View Terrace, December 2012

There are two racks around the corner in St Quentin Avenue but they were not being used, perhaps because they are a bit out of the way and in a section of dead space next to the side wall of a bank. 
St Quentin Avenue, December 2012

The tree protectors are not ideal because the metal is sharp and care needs to be taken if you want to avoid scratching your frame. This lack of official bicycle parking prompted me to research what the Town of Claremont had provided prior to the change. A quick look at Google street view, which still shows the old street, reveals there were previously eight u-rails spaced along the two blocks. 

Bay View Terrace, Google street view, January 2010

From eight to zero! That does not fit with the new movement hierarchy we were promised.

One change since October has been the reduction of the posted speed limit. It was previously 20 km/h and it has now been reduced to 10 km/h. From my observation, the new limit has made no difference to the actual speed of vehicles. Cars still dominate the space and motorists are ignoring the speed limit. In desperation, the Town of Claremont have installed this huge illuminated sign that flashes between  showing the speed limit and a plea to motorists to slow down.

Sad isn't it. The Town of Claremont do not understand what they have done. Despite spending a lot of money on attractive paving, they still have a street the welcomes motorised traffic. What could be an attractive pedestrian mall is still used as a short-term car park. They have even increased the number of car bays from 31 to 32 and removed eight bicycle u-rails. A sign is not going to fix anything. The answer is simple.  Just get rid of the cars.

It is time for some thinking from this century. I noticed that the Heart Foundation in South Australia has been doing some useful research and have commissioned this Good for Business - Discussion Paper

Written by Dr Rodney Tolley, the report gives information "for built environment professionals and business people to show the positive financial benefits of making streets more walking and cycling friendly". This should be essential reading for all Western Australian Local Government decision makers. Some of the key findings shown in the report are: 
  • Space allocated to bicycle parking can produce much higher levels of retail spend than the same space devoted to car parking.
  • Car parking is of less significance to local retail activity than is often thought. Space for people on foot is a more significant attribute.
  • Retail vitality would be best served by traffic restraint, public transport improvements, and a range of measures to improve the walking and cycling environments.
  • There is evidence that improving walking and cycling environments raises property values by statistically significants amounts.

My shopping trip was a great example. I found the socks and then bought new underwear as well. I remembered that I needed to replace my swimming goggles, so I walked around looking for a sports store. I was not in any hurry.  I had ridden by bicycle instead of driving my car, I did not have to worry about any parking time-limits. After buying goggles, I decided that because Christmas day is getting close, I should not procrastinate about buying gifts any longer. I eventually spent three hours shopping in Claremont. I started with socks, then ended up buying six additional items plus some fresh vegetables to have with dinner.

Importantly, most of my time, and money, was spent away from the Bay View Terrace car park and in the Claremont Quarter Shopping Centre.

Merry Christmas to all