Getting around on a bike

Cycling is booming in Australia — not just for recreation but for transport.
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  • Updated:29 Feb 2008

02.Bike facilities

If you've ever been riding along in a bike lane only to have it suddenly disappear with a 'lane ends' sign, you’re not alone. Cycling experts emphasise the need to reconfigure the road space so it’s more bike friendly, and say that solutions need to be customised to suit the location.Bikes in lock-up cage

A real challenge for the next wave of investment is linking up existing infrastructure, while informing people about what’s actually there through signs and maps. Many local councils and State governments encourage bicycle infrastructure through local bicycle plans.

Some authorities are joining the dots between cycleways and public transport options to extend the distance you can travel with your bike. And there are some interesting proposals for change, such as Sydney City Council’s consideration of a European-style walk-up bike hire system.

End-of-trip facilities are still lacking, not just at workplaces but other common destinations such as gyms, where parking and gear storage is not always available (though at least you'll get a shower). Biking facilities in workplaces are often conspicuous by their absence as well. Talk to your employer about it — cycling organisations and local councils can give tips on how to help improve facilities for cyclists at work.

Movement on the ground

No single place in Australia has it all, but there’s a great range of new and expanding initiatives that are making cycling for transport much more appealing.

  • Adelaide: BikeDirect is a series of 13 free online maps covering greater Adelaide. Take note of the colour of your route, because they’re colour-coded to match on-street signage.
  • Adelaide: A daily bike hire scheme called Adelaide City Bikes is free, you just leave some ID as a deposit.
  • Brisbane: Adjacent to a new bus station, the King George Square Cycle Centre offers secure bike parking for 420 bikes. There will be lockers, plus shower and change facilities. It's expected to open in June 2008.
  • Brisbane and Canberra: Some city buses can carry two bicycles — using racks attached to the front of the bus. Bikes are carried for free, with cyclists loading and unloading them after notifying the driver.
  • Secure bike parkingCanberra: The Australian National University has one of the largest staff bicycle fleets in Australia, providing free bikes, helmets, panniers, lights and cycle computers for employees. Its 45 bikes clocked up 38,000 km of travel within the campus in a year, a significant proportion of which would previously have been done by car.
  • Melbourne: On weekends on Beach Road Black Rock, a popular cycling destination, two car parking spaces are converted to an on-road parking rack for 50 bikes.
  • NT and ACT: These record the highest proportion of trips to work by bicycle of the states and territories. Both have relatively flat terrain and the capital cities have good established networks of shared pedestrian/cycle off-road paths.
  • Perth: Train timetables show when bikes are allowed on the trains, which is generally outside peak hours. Folding bikes are allowed on trains at all times, and all bikes travel for free.
  • Perth: At most suburban rail stations there are now free bike lockers (BYO lock) and bike rails. They are close to the platform and monitored by closed circuit TV. At Perth station there’s a rest centre with lockers and showers for a fee.
  • Sydney: A corner of a Manly car park near the ferry terminal has been converted to 72 bike spaces. Users pay $20 and a $30 refundable deposit for a swipe card to enter the bike cage where they can lock their bikes to rails. It’s CCTV-monitored.
  • Victoria: After just eight months, 42% of trips to schools in the state Ride2School program are made by bike or foot, compared to the national average of 20%. Over 500 schools are now enrolled in Victoria, and NSW has also joined the program.
  • Victoria: Despite a brief ban earlier this year, bicycles are again allowed on Connex and V/Line trains at all times. Folding bikes are allowed on all trams and buses, provided they are folded.

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