Imagine you're approaching this stretch of road at about 40kph—actually quite easy to do, as you've just come off a steeper downhill section, so it's not unusual for anyone to be coasting along at a fair clip here. Notice any particular hazards at this point?
Let's go in a bit closer:
Yep, that's a base of one of those flexi-poles that I didn't much like when they were installed last year. A number of these poles have been bent and a couple have snapped off, leaving the near-invisible base as a collision hazard for cyclists. And if a cyclist gets tipped off after crashing with that, where are they going to land…?
That this has been broken for weeks (and possibly months) without repair reflects poorly on the City of Melbourne's willingness and/or ability to maintain dedicated cycling facilities. Not good when these lanes carry 17% of total vehicles in the morning peak on Albert St.
In fairness, it's not all downside. Both of you might remember this dangerous drain cover:
Astonishingly, that wheel-jamming hazard was simply left there unmodified as part of the initial installation. Well, over a year later, it's had an upgrade:
That's an improvement, but really that should have been fixed in the first place.
Any good at all?
Having sworn off Albert St in favour of Victoria St, I have found myself back there a bit more often, in spite of my ongoing concerns including:
- increased likelihood of clashes with entering traffic on the eastbound/downhill lane,
- turning lane conflicts—being dumped into a turning lane is still dangerous by design,
- the increased difficulty in merging into the main traffic flow to make a right-hand turn, and
- those damn poles are still a collision hazard (even when they aren't broken).
I've also noticed a tendency for cars to stop in (and block) the bike lane during clearway times, something that drivers wouldn't have dreamt of doing before the bike lanes were there.
But if I'm back on Albert St, does that mean I'm a convert? No way: I remain a committed bike lane agnostic. Maybe Albert St is better with curbside lanes than without, but for me it is just the least worst option on that part of my commute route.