I ride a bike. I like riding my bike. There are so many reasons why I do.
- It’s often quicker than driving – especially from Port to St Kilda at peak hour.
- It’s less effort than walking in flat Port Phillip
- Parking is convenient and free.
- I bump into people. It’s easy to stop and have a chat.
- I can feel the mild climb up the (Emerald) Hill and the pleasure of the downhill descent from the South Melbourne Market back to Port.
- I love rounding Point Ormond and seeing Port Melbourne, the Westgate Bridge and Webb Dock come into view.
- If I’m tired, I can stop for a while.
- I can feel the wind direction change.
- I can see the seasonal changes in the gardens as I pass
Yet at the same time riding is fraught with risk and frustration.
- Drivers open car doors unexpectedly.
- Drivers reverse out of angle parking and only then look to see who’s coming.
- The bike lane peters out into the intersection.
- The bike path peters out and you are admonished to dismount.
- Cars, especially large ones, pass too closely and too fast and you can feel the chill of a near death experience.
Progress has been made
Port Phillip’s off road paths along the foreshore and through the Railway Reserves have been in place since the early ’90s and serve riders well. Bit by bit, year by year, the City of Port Phillip adds to safer crossings on routes to schools. This investment and Council support has led to Port Phillip having the highest rate of school participation in Ride2School Day in Victoria – 16 out of 19 schools. The bike parking at all campuses of Albert Park College is overflowing. Serious injuries to cyclists in Port Phillip have declined from 42 in 2014 to 17 in 2018.
What’s the catch?
At 7 am each year on the first Tuesday in March, I take up my post at Site 448, the Eel (Webb) Bridge at Yarra’s Edge in Docklands, to count cyclists past this point for Bicycle Network’s Super Tuesday. Between 7.00 and 9.00 am on 5 March, 770 riders passed this point. 150 were female and 620 were men. Or to put it another way, about 20% were female.
It has been observed that only when there is equal gender participation in cycling, can you be said to have reached that holy grail of a cycling city.
We’re a long, long way from that.
In several studies, Jan Garrard has found that female cyclists prefer maximum separation from motorised traffic. She concludes that providing a high degree of separation from motor traffic is important for increasing women’s participation in cycling.
Cycling and Fishermans Bend
Site 4448 at the Eel Bridge in Yarra’s Edge is the place where many cyclists make a sharp turn heading towards workplaces in Fishermans Bend.
Wayfinding and connections to Fishermans Bend from the City by bike are very poor. The road environment is hostile.
The objective in the Framework is for Fishermans Bend to be ‘an exceptional place to cycle’.
To achieve that objective it will be essential to strengthen the connections between the City and Fishermans Bend and make riding safer.
I’ll be sharing some thoughts on cycling at the Port Phillip BUG AGM on Tuesday 15 from 6pm at the Port Phillip EcoCentre.
It’s Ride2Work Day on Wednesday 16 October. Join a community breakfast at South Melbourne Market from 7.30 to 9.00 a.m (byo cup)
Jan Garrard Bikes as transport: getting Australian women along for the ride The Conversation August 11, 2011