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As the sixth largest country, Australia has a lot of space. Unfortunately, this also means road engineering guidelines cater for wider cars and not people walking or riding bikes. 

Compared to the rest of the world, Australian roads are planned around a wider car at 1.9 metres such as a Holden Commodore.

For Europe and Asia, roads are planned around smaller cars and therefore narrower roads are built. 

Currently in Australia, on roads with low speed limits and limited trucks, the guidelines suggest lanes be 3.0 - 3.4 metres. On urban arterial roads with higher speeds, the lane should be 3.6 metres wide. 

Below outlines the road widths around the world:

Bike food delivery worker with meal

Why change to narrower car lanes?

Larger cars actually cause more congestion. This is because larger vehicles on arterial roads cause more congestion than smaller cars, because these larger cars prompt smaller vehicles to actually slow down. This happens because larger vehicles block the line of vision of smaller ones, and drivers of smaller cars know they would come off second best if a collision occurred. 

Instead of continuing to build roads for wider cars, let’s start repurposing the excess space for active transport. 

This would allow for wider footpaths or fully separated bike lanes, encouraging active transport, whilst reducing congestion, carbon emissions and health issues across NSW. 

Below are examples of how streets can be repurposed to allow for more people to travel. 

Bike food delivery worker with meal

Road dedicated to cars

Source: Global Designing Cities

Bike food delivery worker with meal

Road repurposed for better flow of people 

Source: Global Designing Cities

“We know moving people around is a complex problem. However repurposing streets can offer a solution and encourage people to rethink their transport needs, perhaps towards more active options,” commented Kim Lavender, Bicycle NSW Communications Manager.

Bicycle NSW encourages the Government and councils to rethink the road design and plan to move more people on streets that promote active transport. 

 

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