Making Melbourne a Better City for Cyclists

30th April 2015
Cycle Lane in La Trobe Street, Melbourne

Having returned recently to cycling it's disappointing to see how the occasional good bike lane disappears into a dangerous intersection. What were the planners thinking?  Raili Simojoki and Alexander Sheko provide some answers in The Age (30/4/15):

"By building a safe, connected bike network, the Victorian government could achieve a 10% cycling mode share by 2030.  About 40% of all car trips are less than five kilometres. To reach its target, the government would only need to shift a quarter of these trips to bicycle. This would reduce cars on our roads and make the most of limited space, bikes being far more space-efficient than cars. It would extend the reach of our public transport system, through short trips to the station. And it would slash the costs of physical inactivity to the health system, estimated to cost the Victorian health budget $375 million per year. These benefits can be achieved relatively quickly, because bike infrastructure is quicker and cheaper to build than large road and public transport projects.

"The Victorian government should join leaders in New York, Paris and London, who are taking substantial and pragmatic steps to transform their cities for cycling. New York, under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, added bike lanes rapidly, nearly doubling its bike network.  In London, a number of new and improved 'cycle superhighways' are proposed throughout the city. Paris recently announced a plan to triple the share of all trips made by bike from 5% to 15%. In the next five years, it aims to double its network of bike lanes to 1400 kilometres and drop speed limits on many streets to 30km/h. ...

"Even more important than funding is the way we allocate limited road space. State roads authority Vicroads, in particular, has often obstructed or overlooked cycling infrastructure, for example, many CBD bike lanes disappear at signalled intersections because Vicroads won't approve reduced car capacity there. ...

"Laws around liability for crashes involving vulnerable road users should also be reformed to provide greater protection for cyclists and pedestrians, and to provide significant and consistently enforced penalties for endangering these vulnerable road users.  These legal measures should be complemented with education programs that start at primary school and continue into driver education and licence testing. Decades of road-oriented transport policy and longstanding neglect of public transport and cycling have created a population of car drivers. This has led to a congestion problem that sees Victorians stuck in traffic and costs the Victorian economy over $4 billion a year. The problem is set to set to intensify, with daily trips throughout Melbourne's transport system predicted to increase 75% by 2050. It's delusional to think we can fix the congestion problem with the same approach that caused it. Studies in the US and Europe indicate that building more roads only increases congestion by encouraging more people to drive. The only solution is to make alternatives to driving more compelling. ...

"Making Victoria a cycling state will be a challenge, but it's achievable, and worth it."


Read the full article at:

See the Transport Newsletter back issues on our blog site.