Death sparks call for city cycle review

A CYCLIST died after being hit by a bus on Beaufort Street this week, just months after motorcycles were banned from the bus lane due to safety concerns. 

On October 6 at 4.10pm, a route 60 bus travelling north on Beaufort Street turned left onto Newcastle Street, hitting a cyclist who was going north on Beaufort. The tight turn was introduced to route 60 this year; previously the bus made the left further up at Brisbane Street where there’s more clearance.

The cyclist, a 54-year-old man, died at the scene with an onlooker holding his hand. 

The intersection doesn’t have a green-shaded head start box for cyclists, just a “keep clear” zone to give buses extra space to navigate the tight corner. 

Bike rider and pedestrian advocate Andrew Main has long held concerns about bikes sharing busy streets with vehicles. He says while it’s not yet clear what happened, in many cases a bike head-start zone, such as those being rolled out by Fremantle council, could prevent this kind of collision.

“I think they should be compulsory on any route that’s identified as a bike route, that’s definitely something that needs to be common practice.

“We also need to look at the bus routes. If they’ve got a route where they have to swing out and turn in, that’s a design failure, and maybe they need to look at route selection.”

Until recently both bicycles and motorbikes were allowed in bus lanes on Beaufort, Fitzgerald Street and a few others. In June the Public Transport Authority announced motorcyclists would no longer be permitted in the bus lanes.

The PTA’s report said visibility was a concern: “Motorcyclists present a relatively small visibility profile compared to buses.”

The report said bikes in bus lanes “is a much debated topic between transport planners and engineers” and it acknowledged “cyclists have an even smaller profile than motorcyclists,” but didn’t propose prohibiting cyclists from bus lanes.

Mr Main says in general having cyclists in bus lanes is “not really a solution” to unsafe streets and a lack of bike infrastructure. He avoids them and says they’re generally only used by a small number of the more confident cyclists. 

Former City of Perth councillor Reece Harley has been growing increasingly concerned about the safety around bus lanes over the past few years. 

A candidate for the October 17 election, he says “the new council of the City of Perth needs to undertake an urgent review of the adequacy of city cycling infrastructure.

“We should also be liaising closely with the PTA on the safety of bus routes throughout the City, and looking especially at the interaction of buses, pedestrians, cyclists and other traffic at intersections.”

“The number 60 bus route used to head east on Brisbane Street and was recently re-directed to Newcastle Street, turning left at a much busier intersection and heading through a much busier part of the city which gets gridlocked most mornings and afternoons.”

October is WA Bike Month.

by DAVID BELL

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