This careless act is the biggest issue for Victorian cyclists

Cyclist holding onto handle bars riding fast down street.

Sue Hewitt

Posted July 27, 2020

BikeSpot survey reveals more than 80 per cent of cyclists fear being 'car doored'.

More than 80 per cent of Melbourne cyclists say they fear ‘car dooring’ and experience multiple incidents or near misses on a weekly basis. 

The findings, revealed in a major survey of cyclists and motorists, reinforce RACV’s calls for a network of cycling superhighways in Melbourne to make bike riding safer. 

The BikeSpot survey, conducted by mapping website CrowdSpot and cycling safety organisation the Amy Gillett Foundation, involved almost 6000 cyclists and motorists who used an interactive map to pinpoint danger spots for conflict between bikes and cars. The survey ran from March to May, just as the first round of COVID-19 lockdowns sparked a surge in popularity of cycling. 

As well as identifying key danger spots, respondents were asked to explain why they believed the locations were dangerous. Most cited non-existent, inadequate or unsafe cycling lanes as major concerns. Other dangers were narrow roads, traffic including trams and the risk of car dooring from parked cars. 

Based on more than 30,000 submissions to the interactive map, Chapel Street, with its trams, parked cars and narrow thoroughfare, was ranked Melbourne’s most dangerous cycling route, with cyclists reporting that most injuries in the area were caused by car dooring. 

St Kilda Road was ranked second worst due to its unsafe bike lane, followed by Sydney Road, Collins Street and the city’s Haymarket roundabout (at the intersection of Flemington Road and Peel and Elizabeth streets), where riders complained of poor or narrow bike lanes and the risk of car dooring.

Respondents were also asked to identify the safest routes for bikes, most of which had separated bike paths, off-road paths or other bike-friendly features. They ranked Wellington Street, Collingwood, as Melbourne’s safest bike route, followed by William Street.

RACV senior planner Stuart Outhred says the BikeSpot survey is significant, given the number of participants and submissions. He says the findings support RACV’s calls for dedicated bike lanes and other cycling road infrastructure to improve safety and encourage more people to ride bikes.

RACV has identified 10 cycling routes that should be prioritised for improved infrastructure to create a bicycle superhighway network across Melbourne. The cycling superhighway recommendations, which include upgrades for Chapel Street and St Kilda Road, have been listed as a national priority by Infrastructure Australia, the nation’s key independent adviser to governments on infrastructure. 

Stuart says a lack of cycling infrastructure such as dedicated and separate bike lanes is the biggest deterrent for new cyclists. “Cyclists feel very vulnerable and the BikeSpot survey shows 75 per cent of cyclists report unsafe spots because of insufficient or unsafe cycling infrastructure,” he says.

He notes that many of the routes identified by RACV as priorities for the bicycle superhighway network were also pinpointed as major danger spots in the BikeSpot survey.

“We need investment in areas which cyclists have identified as unsafe,” Stuart says. “The state government is investing $27 million to build new bike lanes on St Kilda Road to physically separate cyclists and cars, and the City of Melbourne is fast-tracking bike paths in the city, but more needs to be done.

“The individual projects being rolled out in central Melbourne are a great start, but creating a network and making it seamless is key if riding a bike is going to become a genuine transport option for more Victorians.

“The BikeSpot findings really underscore the importance of separated bike lanes which RACV has been advocating for in recent years.”

Map of Melbourne highlighting danger spots for cyclists

This map of Melbourne (above) highlights danger areas for cyclists around the suburbs and the inner city.


Stuart urges municipal councils to use recently announced Transport Accident Commission grants to invest in low-cost infrastructure to protect cyclists and pedestrians. The state government announced the grants on 15 July, which will provide up to $100,000 to local councils to create safer roads.

“We strongly encourage councils to consider using the TAC road-safety grants to address some of the long-standing issues around bike-rider safety throughout Victoria,” Stuart says.

“Being bold with innovative designs and trialling different techniques can lead to quick improvements that really make a difference in how people move around.”

CrowdSpot director Anthony Aisenberg says the BikeSpot results show that both cyclists and drivers want a physically separated and connected cycling network.

“It is the best method to increase safety and, importantly, everyone’s willingness to ride more often,” he says.

Dan Kneipp, chief executive officer of the Amy Gillett Foundation, says the BikeSpot data would help different levels of government make decisions to ensure cycling is safe for Victorians.

“We’ve known for decades that safety is a key barrier to cycling participation,” he says. “BikeSpot 2020 has gone one step further and identified exactly where and why people don’t feel safe, both when they ride and when they drive. It’s clear that separated cycling infrastructure is the preference for all road users.”

The survey found that road users’ perceptions of danger spots did not always match actual crash histories – four of the top10 locations ranked by the survey as most dangerous had fewer than three bike crashes from 2016 to 2019.


BikeSpot’s 10 most dangerous spots for cyclists and cars

  1. ·Chapel Street, (between Toorak Road and Alexandra Avenue) – narrow, car-dooring risk.
  2. St Kilda Road – unsafe bike lane.
  3. Hopkins Street, Footscray – no bike lane.
  4. Haymarket roundabout, city – unsafe bike lane.
  5. Collins Street, city – narrow, car-dooring risk.
  6. Sydney Road – narrow, car-dooring risk.
  7. Southbank Promenade and Yarra Promenade – unsafe shared path.
  8. St Kilda Junction – unsafe bike lane.
  9. Chapel Street (between Dandenong Road and Toorak Road) – poor surface.
  10. Johnston Street, Collingwood – no bike lane.

BikeSpot’s 10 safest spots

  1. Wellington Street, Collingwood – separated bike lane.
  2. William Street, city – separated bike lane.
  3. Yarra Boulevard – lots of other cyclists.
  4. Footscray Road Trail – separated bike lane.
  5. Main Yarra Trail and Chandler Highway – off-road path.
  6. Inner Circle Rail Trail – off-road path.
  7. Napier Street, Carlton – wide bike lane.
  8. Canning Street, Carlton North – not much traffic.
  9. St Kilda Road (near the Queen Victoria Gardens) – separated bike lane.
  10. Clarendon Street, East Melbourne – wide bike lane.

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