Saturday, 10 November 2012

The horror of the Kent St bike path

You might expect that as a cyclist, I'd have nothing but wonderful things to say about the bike paths that have been springing up (or laid down) around the Sydney CBD.

Well, you'd be wrong.

It's been a long time since I rode up and down Kent St (which leads to that Harbour Bridge), so on a whim, I decided to give it a go this week. I wasn't going anywhere in particular - I just added a few miles to my journey to increase my workout.

As an aside, I work with a bloke who has a 20 kilometre commute. He'll sometimes leave home really early and actually ride 40km to work, or leave work a bit early and take a 60km route home. He's nuts by the way.

I used to live north of the harbour, so trundling up and down Kent St (pre-bike lane) and onto the Harbour Bridge was a daily occurrence. The bike lane was built years after I moved to the outer limits of the civilised world (the inner west). Kent St was never a pleasant place to cycle - steep hill, poor road surfaces, merging traffic, hordes of idiot pedestrians crossing in the wrong places whilst yapping on their phones and not watching where they were going and angry drivers suffering in grid lock as they waited to get onto the bridge approaches.

Not much has changed, except that there is now a two-way bike lane down the eastern side. The hill is still there. The idiot pedestrians are still there (although their phones have mysteriously gotten larger, as have the hordes). The poor road surface has been painted over with some extra-super-slippery green paint. The angry drivers and grid lock have gotten worse.

The big plus is that cyclists are no longer funnelled into a bad place to be by merging car lanes - we have our own green lane now. However, the bike lane is crossed by the drive ways into numerous office blocks, and on the day I rode through there, a driver was either parked across the bike lane (waiting to get into the grid locked traffic) or one drove furiously out of the car park from my left without considering that cyclists might be trundling down the hill on the green painted bit of stuff out of the front of their office.

I hated it. I really, seriously hated it. I reckon I would have been safer riding on the road for most of my journey.

Which is why I avoid Kent St entirely and take a much longer route around the western edge of the city. It's flat, it's fast and there's 1/10th the number of traffic lights. Did I mention that I spent more time waiting at red lights on Kent St than riding along the bike path?

With cycling, the direct route is not always the best. I quite often find that the indirect approach is easier, safer - and in this case - probably a lot faster. Going from A to B in a straight line can often be the worst possible option. And in my case, I like taking the longer route because it means more calories burned.

1 comment:

Real Deal said...

Kent Street is the only place where I have been hit by a car and knocked off my bike. That was nearly 20 years ago and I haven't ridden into the city since. I hate Kent Street.