Is Melbourne a cycle-safe city?
How Melbourne stacks up against other cities globally for being bike-friendly.
As COVID-19 carves out a ‘new normal’ for almost every aspect of our lives, more and more people are jumping on their bike for exercise and transport.
The City of Melbourne has responded to the emerging cycling boom by fast-tracking 40 kilometres of bike lanes over the next two years to connect suburbs including Carlton, East Melbourne, North Melbourne, Brunswick and West Melbourne with the CBD.
But while RACV’s senior planner Stuart Outhred says the bike lanes will help make cycling more accessible and safer for more people, he believes Melbourne still has a long way to go to become a truly bike-friendly city. “We’ve got pretty low rates of cycling, relative to what we potentially should have,” he says. “I think that’s in large part because the road environment isn’t safe. It’s quite intimidating."
That’s why Stuart and RACV have put forward plans to develop a network of ‘cycling superhighways’ across the city, providing separated bike lanes and other cycling-friendly infrastructure on key routes to make it safer and easier for people to move around by pedal power. The plan has been listed as a priority by Infrastructure Australia, the government’s key advisory body on infrastructure projects.
Bicycle Network spokesman Alexander Miller hopes initiatives like the cycling superhighway network and the City of Melbourne’s pop-up bike lanes will encourage those who have jumped on a bike during the pandemic to feel more confident about riding as the COVID crisis subsides.
“We need to make sure that people still feel like they’re able to ride to work, when work returns,” he says. “So if you can swap out a five-kilometre car trip with a bike ride then that goes a long way to improve your health, and a healthier Australia.”
So what else can be done to make Melbourne more bike friendly? Stuart and Alexander agree there’s much to learn by looking at what some of the great cycling cities around the world are doing to encourage more people to get on their bikes.