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Aerial arterial bike ways

By Roger Kalla - posted Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Urban roads in cities all over the world are choking with traffic. 'Peak hour' along Eastern Freeway, a major arterial in Melbourne starts well before 7.30 am in the morning and stretches to 9.30 am after parents dropping of their kids at school have finally arrived at their workplaces. Then the race back to pick up the children at school starts at 3.30 pm and doesn't let up until the last stragglers are back at home after 6. 30 pm.

This daily grinding commuting routine is bad for your physical and mental health, bad for the environment and bad for society.

The solution that many generations of politicians have relied on is to build more roads or to widen existing roads. Naturally the problem is that cars fill the new space or there is a bottleneck somewhere further down the transport infrastructure system. The newly built roads are soon filled up again prompting calls for more investment in roads for cars to meet increased demand.


It's a modern tale of the tortoise and the hare, the hare i.e the car runs fast for a short stretch during the commute until it gets caught up in traffic and then nods of for long periods of time barely moving forward while the tortoise i.e the public transport gets you there faster in the end although you are stopping all stations and are squashed up with other weary travellers.

The actual mean velocity of a car travelling in peak hour traffic on Melbourne's clogged up motorways can be as low as 20 km per hour and rarely reaches 60 km per hour.

The Melbourne East West link proposal is the latest suggested fix to the seemingly insurmountable problem with traffic during peak hour. It involves major surgery cutting a tunnel through park land which would connect the end of the Eastern Freeway to the Tullamarine Freeway. Some say that spending the money on building the long mooted railway line in the middle of the Eastern Freeway reserve to Doncaster is money better spent.

An example of how this could be done is the Mandurah railway in Perth, Western Australia, where a railway was retrofitted into the middle of Kwinana Freeway thus providing a boost in public transport for the south eastern suburbs of the Western Australian capital.

Over the years many have eyed the corresponding road reserve in the middle of Melbourne's Eastern Freeway, originally set aside for a railway line to the eastern suburb of Doncaster, as a way to future proof this vital transport link.

Alternative uses of this road reserve has been put forth. One is for a commuter bike pathway to be built in the middle of the Freeway thus considerably increasing the carrying capacity of bicycle traffic along this route to the City. The Victorian Government though has resisted the possibility of using the road reserve for anything else but a railway line.


However there are engineering solutions that allow for the building of a dedicated commuter bike path and a rail way line along the same road reserve. This dual use transport solution has been put forth by urban planners in London as a way of increasing the amount of commuter traffic into the City of London. If this proposal that calls for Aerial bicycle highways to be built over railways lines would be implemented in our cities the objection raised that one use of the road reserves along our Freeways excludes another would be addressed.

Cycling in London has taken off recently, perhaps as a result of a British bike rider, Sir Bradley Wiggins, winning the double in 2012 ie Le Tour de France and the Olympic Gold medal in the road race during the London Olympics. During peak hour, 25 % of all traffic in central London is now by bicycle. And along certain streets over 50 % of traffic is on two wheels. However, cars and bikes have until now had to coexist on the same road causing an ever increasing risk for collisions and ugly scenes of road rage.

The optimal solution is to separate cyclists from cars. The SkyCycle concept for a network of elevated dedicated bike routesthat would run above rail train lines in central London. This could equally well work for the Kwinana Freeway in Perth, where the Mandurah railway line has been built, or the Eastern Freeway Road Reserve that could carry trains and bicycles on an elevated commuter bike route above the newly constructed railway line.

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About the Author

Dr Roger Kalla is the Director of his own Company, Korn Technologies, and a stakeholder in Australia’s agricultural biotechnology future. He is also a keen part time nordic skier and an avid reader of science fiction novels since his mispent youth in Arctic Sweden. Roger is a proud member of the Full Montes bike riding club of Ivanhoe East.

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