Bike SA’s CEO Christian Haag examines at the recent proposal from the State Liberal Party to allowing motorists to turn left at red lights. 

If you’ve read today’s copy of The Advertiser, you would probably notice that Shadow Transport Minister David Pisoni has put forward an amendment to allow motorists to turn left at red lights.

(To be specific, his amendment to parliament would expand the network of intersections where motorists could enter a road on a red traffic light where the speed limit is 60km/h or lower.)

Why? To assist in the reduction of our ever-growing traffic congested roads.

Of course, not an issue for those of us who pedal our way through the gridlock, smiling happily with each and every turn of the crank.

There are already a small number of intersections in Adelaide that allow this and are signed accordingly. The Shadow Minister wants to bring SA in line with Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT, where these road rule changes have already taken effect.

Based on statements in The Advertiser’s story, neither the Transport Minister, RAA, or the Centre for Automotive Safety Research are particularly keen on this amendment, pointing out the increased risk of injury to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

So what would be the implications for bicycle riders?

Given the multitude of road treatments at our intersections, our concern is that “confusion and motorist inattention” could reign supreme – standard intersections, intersections with white paint bike lanes, green paint bike lanes, bike boxes and the like. It’s a busy world…

So, on the proposition to allow more Left Turn On Red? Our risk assessment is – Risk Increased…!

But lets go back to Shadow Minister Pisoni’s original intent, which is to reduce congestion.

Dedicate a strategic 4% of the government’s total transport infrastructure spend on safe separated cycling infrastructure across the metropolitan arterial network.

There are some political leaders around the world that are prepared to throw their leadership stake in the ground and say ‘enough is enough’.

Case in point – the Mayor of Houston. When he realised that his citizens spend 14% of their net incomes on their car-based transport, whereas Copenhagen citizens spend just 4%, he realised that something had to change.

By my quick calculation, Adelaideans spend around 14% on their net income on having to rely on their small car for transport – let alone the ‘trusty’ SUV.

Just think of the rewards for our small businesses if that level of additional discretionary spending was transferred away from our transport costs!

On a personal note, when it comes to personal mobility, I do not identify myself as a cyclist, a motorist nor a public transport user or pedestrian. I am simply someone who takes advantage of the multiple transport options available to me to go about my daily business in the most cost effective and convenient manner.

My gripe is that there is a deeply imbedded inequity in the choices available to our citizens for safe, active transport options. And that single fact impacts how we define “cost and convenience”.

It is a sad fact that today, transport is progressively expensive and inconvenient.

The stereotypical silo mentality of separating how people transport themselves is not a healthy narrative – it is in fact a narrative of a ‘city in decay’, where the easy ‘business as usual approach’ to transport policy will see Adelaide continue to grow as a grid-locked and increasingly unproductive city.

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