Urban Planning for Bicycles Hits Second Gear

melbourne bicycle

Cities worldwide are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of and opportunities created by an investment in bicycle infrastructure.

This is particularly true in Australia, with the various states and cities updating their biking networks to cater to a growing need for automobile-alternative transport means.

After completing Stage One of the Melbourne Bicycle Plan, the Victorian capital is following in the footsteps of iconic European cycling cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam in moving towards developing a more bike-friendly metropolitan area.

The first stage of the plans ran from 2007 until 2011 and focused heavily on making initial networking upgrades and developing the foundations for new cycling infrastructure. The key focuses of that development stage were setting the groundwork for safe networks and developing greater communication with the cycling community.

melbourne bicycle

Now, moving forward with the Draft Bicycle Plan for 2012 – 2016, the city’s commitment to providing ‘safe and connected bicycle routes’ has been further solidified.

According to The City of Melbourne, cyclists’ activities are expected to grow to make up six per cent of all trips to and within the city by 2016. This will account for 15 per cent of inner city peak traffic.

Now that the foundations have been set, city council hopes to build on them with the influence and inclusion of ‘cycling innovation’ standing as the next major goal. Through the first phase of the planning, new issues and needs were identified, including work on:

▪    A number of high priority on-road cycling routes, such as La Trobe Street, Princes Bridge on Swanston Street, St Kilda Road, Elizabeth, Exhibition and Clarendon streets

▪   Other off-road routes that improve transitions from off-road to on-road paths and link precincts, such as the Yarra Trail through Alexandra Gardens and Queen Victoria Gardens to St Kilda Road, Lorimer Street to Docklands and routes around Royal Park

▪    More bicycle parking and improved end-of-trip facilities

▪    Research and bicycle safety campaigns to boost participation and monitor changes and trends.

The importance of optimising this kind of infrastructure is incredibly relevant in Melbourne, given the city’s expected substantial growth and the need for the development and encouragement of low-carbon infrastructure and public transport means.

In each of the past two years, Melbourne has been named the world’s most liveable city, and that liveability hinges on the development and support of a strong infrastructure system. In a modern world, that means optimising bicycle routes, a challenge Melbourne is certainly tackling head-on.

By Tim Moore
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