Bicycle Network: Better Transport
30% of CBD commuters could arrive by bike
With a high quality network we can get 30% of trips to the CBD done by bike
CBD bicycle commuter numbers are already at 8% (2007 City of Melbourne estimate). So to reach 30% we need to quadruple the current levels of riding.
You can see a lot of riders around these days, but really, how many are there? A busy path – the Yarra for example – carries around 500 people in one peak hour. The busiest road route carries around 450 bike riders. The City of Melbourne estimated that in 2007 around 7 500 people rode to work in the CBD each day. (See Super Tuesday for details on bicycle counts.)
We can do two things to lift the number of riders. First: we can develop more routes. The map shows those that we believe have potential. Secondly: we can improve the routes. Whenever a bike route is improved - when separation between cars and bicycles is increased, green paint is installed, path connections are made or feeder routes are added - the number of riders rises. Between 2006 and 2007, use of painted on-road lanes rose by 10%, while use of the off-road network increased by 20%.
Clearly, separation is a key to improved performance. St Kilda Rd delivers around 300 riders each peak hour. With separation, the numbers of riders could double.
We suggest that the main bike routes should aim to deliver 1 000 riders in a peak hour. Today a motor vehicle lane heading into the city might carry 600 to 1 000 vehicles per hour in the peak. When a bike route is delivering 600 to 1 000 riders an hour it is functioning, in congestion terms, as an extra vehicle lane.
There is no reason why, given a high quality network, that the municipalities within 10km of the CBD cannot significantly increase their share of bike commuter trips. The proportion of riding trips is above average from Yarra to the CBD. Bikes already have a 12% share of all journeys (2006 census). Moreland for example has an 8% rider share, Port Phillip has 5%, Maribyrnong 4%, and Stonington 3.5%. These municipalities are an equivalent distance from the CBD as Yarra.
People want to ride their bikes. The last census showed a 42% increase in the journey to work in the CBD by bike in Melbourne. The next best result in other capitals was 31% in Adelaide. In some cities, bike riding to work decreased. The last census showed an 80% increase in commuting from Darebin and Moreland and a 120% increase from Maribyrnong to the City of Melbourne. This is good news for the Government. They only have to help people do what they want to do and push things along in the direction that they are already going.
Improving the bike network will be the cheapest move in transport. It might cost as little as $500 000 to improve a bike route so that it carries 1 000 riders in peak travel times. The new Connect East freeway cost around $60m per kilometre. To move 1 000 people by public transport would require the purchase of a new train at a cost of around $6m, or $25m worth of buses or $36m worth of trams. The government is ready to spend $10m on early-bird fares on public transport to attract 2 500 passengers or three train loads. You can see that, as a way out of congestion, bicycle investments will have a strong cost benefit ratio. They will also be quick. Improvements to the routes can be started immediately.