Cyclists need protection in the city

Would-be cyclists are fearful of riding through the CBD and surrounding areas because of a lack of protection on the roads, City of Melbourne research has found.

A recently-released, cycling-focused discussion paper revealed the amount of confident riders would increase from 22 per cent to 83 per cent if the council installed physical barriers rather than painted lanes.

It also found that conflict with motorists, constant blocking of bike lanes and a lack of showers and lockers in the workplace discouraged people from cycling.

Spokesman for the Melbourne Bicycle Users Group (BUG) Jonathan Nolan told CBD News it was imperative the council invested in dedicated lanes.

“The only thing we know that has any evidence behind it for getting people onto their bikes is building bicycle infrastructure,” he said.

Mr Nolan acknowledged it was “politically tough” to implement dedicated lanes in a vehicle-reliant city but “smart leaders” around the world were getting it done.

The council is asking for comments and ideas from locals that could shape Melbourne’s transport strategy to 2050, due later this year.

Melbourne BUG is encouraging contributions regarding bicycling infrastructure that will ultimately benefit cyclists in the CBD.

“There’s no safe bike routes on the southern side of the CBD. We think here’s one easy way, without spending too much money, you could make the city better by reducing the number of polluting cars that clog our little streets,” Mr Nolan said.

“You could pedestrianise a lot of the little streets, particularly Flinders Lane.”

He said painted lanes wouldn’t suffice. Not just for their lack of safety, but the number of people who didn’t pay attention to them.

“The clearway bike lanes aren’t working. The City of Melbourne fine people for parking in them every day, but doesn’t stop anyone.”

Lord Mayor Sally Capp is decidedly pro-cycling, and in one of her first moves in office, has announced she would be scrapping the chauffeur service used by former mayor Robert Doyle, opting to cycle wherever she can.

Mr Nolan said the change in leadership was desperately needed.

“We’re pretty excited at the moment as we’re coming out of the dark days of Doyle,” he said. “We think there’s real opportunity for Sally Capp and she seems to be showing a lot of interest in building the kind of infrastructure that will get everyday people doing their everyday things on bicycles.”

The Bicycles for Everyday Transport discussion paper is one of eight papers that will shape a new transport strategy.

Other papers include walking, driving and public transport.

The community can submit opinions and idea via the website.

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