Survey reveals Melbourne commuters ditching cars for bikes

Moving Well | Sue Hewitt | Posted on 25 February 2020

Changing gears: Survey reveals Melbourne commuters are swapping cars for bicycles.

More and more commuters are choosing to leave the car at home and cycle into the city, according to a new traffic survey.

The survey by the City of Melbourne shows a marked increase in the number of people cycling into Melbourne’s CBD during the morning peak over the past 10 years, while the number of cars has declined sharply. (More: A beginner's guide to riding a bike to work.)

Cyclists in Melbourne

According to the study, bike riders now make up 17.1 per cent of all vehicles travelling into the city in the three-hour peak from 7am to 10am, compared with just 7.6 per cent of vehicles 10 years ago. At the same time cars declined from 79.4 per cent to just 66.2 per cent.

The survey conducted last September recorded 10,427 cyclists riding into the city, compared with 40,446 cars, 8646 trucks and 1532 motorbikes and scooters. 

When the council started the survey in 2006, just over 2000 cyclists rode into the city in the morning peak, accounting for just 3.5 per cent of inbound traffic, while cars made up 83.6 per cent.

RACV senior manager transport, planning and infrastructure, Peter Kartsidimas, says the growing number of bike riders demonstrates a clear demand for better, safer cycling infrastructure, such as dedicated bike lanes, which would encourage more people to ride because they feel safe. 

He says the council figures point to the potential role of bike riding in Melbourne, but that growing demand has exceeded investment in bicycle infrastructure over the past 14 years.  

RACV is committed to promoting safer, cheaper and more active ways to get around while reducing congestion on roads and public transport, Peter says.

RACV has commissioned detailed research to identify 10 potential cycling ‘super highways’ or new dedicated bike lanes that would allow high-speed, safe access to key inner-city employment and educational hubs for commuters in suburban Melbourne.

The routes include St Kilda Road and Chapel Street in the city’s south east, and Flemington Road-Mount Alexander Road in the north-west, as well as seven additional priority routes in Footscray, Sunshine, Williamstown, Port Melbourne and Surrey Hills. 

Peter says high-quality, separated infrastructure on these routes would be for everyday bike riders not just lycra-clad enthusiasts. 

City of Melbourne councillor and transport portfolio chair Nicolas Frances Gilley says more and safer cycling infrastructure must be put in place to encourage bike riders, with the aim of lifting the number of cyclists coming into the city in the morning peak from about 10,000 to 30,000.

The council’s plans include protected bike lanes in Exhibition Street to separate bikes from moving traffic and car-door opening hazards.

He says Exhibition Street is a “missing link” in Melbourne’s bicycle network, because while dedicated bike lanes on Rathdowne Street in the north and the Main Yarra Trail in the south feed into Exhibition Street, bike riders “peel off” along other routes because they believe the street is dangerous for riders. 

Work on stage one of the Exhibition Street project, from Flinders Street to Bourke Street, will start later this year. 

Did you know we have roadside assistance for bicycles?