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Bike riding tipped to increase post-COVID

Bike commuting is tipped to increase by 55 per cent in Melbourne when COVID-19 restrictions ease, with people turning away from public transport.

Monash Public Transport Research Group surveyed 2000 people from outer, middle and inner suburbs in Melbourne about how they travelled to work before COVID-19, during the pandemic and what they will do when restrictions ease.

The survey found that public transport usage will drop by 20 per cent, with people opting to instead ride, drive or stay at home to work.

While the way people move around after COVID-19 is set to change, there has been no commitment from the Andrews Labor Government to create more space for people to ride and walk.

Some councils have been fast-tracking protected bike lanes and committing to builds in the next year, however state government funding and assistance is needed to have our roads ready for when restrictions ease.

If more space for riding and walking isn't made people will choose to drive instead, something that our already congested roads can't handle.

“Unfortunately, initial findings from this report don’t provide a very useful outlook for the future of Melbourne, because we have already got too many cars,” said Professor Currie, also Chair of Public Transport at Monash University’s Faculty of Engineering.

"If these numbers are correct, we’re going to see an awful lot of gridlock. As a result, and hopefully, this idea that it’s better to travel by car because it’s safer could disappear.”

Other key findings of the Monash Public Transport Research Group report include:

  • A number of respondents said they would reduce car ownership, but increase car use. Thirty per cent of respondents said they would use their current vehicle more or a lot more than before the COVID-19 shutdown.
  • There is an expected 5 per cent decline in total post-pandemic travel. An increasing number of people working from home is a contributing factor.
  • Post-COVID-19 intention to work from home is expected to increase by 75 per cent, and up to 225 per cent for regular transit users.
  • One in five commuters are less likely to travel into the Melbourne CBD once restrictions ease, mainly due to increased work from home.

Another recent survey, by VicHealth, found that 76 per cent of Victorians want local and state governments to adapt infrastructure so more people can walk or ride, showing Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan that there is nothing scary about bike lanes.

A submission made earlier this year by Bicycle Network, Pedalling to a Better Normal, proposed a $26 million investment from the state government in pop-up bike lanes.

The investment would develop 65 kilometres of protected bike lanes and be introduced alongside supportive legislation for bike riders including minimum passing distance laws and footpath riding.

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