family bike ride
Five wins for bikes in 2021

Another year is coming to a close, and before we crack out the egg nog and read those terrible Christmas bonbon jokes, we thought we’d take a moment to recognise some of the year’s highlights.

Thanks to the ongoing support of our nearly 50,000 members, we've spent another year campaigning to make riding a bike easier for everyone.

The work has paid off. So to end the year on a high note, we are counting down the top five ‘wins’ for people riding bikes.

1. More pop-up lanes

Following last year’s surge in bike enthusiasm, a suite of ‘pop-up’ protected bike lanes were built across the Australia by local and state governments in 2021.

City of Melbourne lead a sterling effort this year, with 16 kilometres of new lanes. The list includes Spring Street, William Street, and Peel Street; plus extensions along Rathdowne Street, Exhibition Street and St Kilda Road, amongst others.

In Sydney, several pop-up lanes were made permanent, including Pitt Street in the CBD and Henderson Road, Railway Parade and Bridge Street in Erskineville.

It's a great step forward, but we must ensure that our local and state governments fully deliver on what they have committed to. You can read more here.

distracted driver
2. New tech targets distracted driving

One of the biggest challenges for vulnerable road users is distracted drivers and is sadly an unfortunate characteristic on many road injuries and deaths.

In 2021, the war against distracted driving stepped up a notch, with mobile phone detection camera systems now permanently operating in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. Drivers also face hefty fines for breaking the rules.   

Bicycle Network has been campaigning for this technology for several years, and we are pleased to see a tactical response taking shape.

3. Gipps Street ramps up

After years of campaigning by the bike riding community, it looks like the notorious Gipps Street steps on the Main Yarra Trail in Abbotsford will be replaced with a gentle sloping ramp.

The call to remove the notorious steps, which are a cumbersome climb for riders, was made all the way back in 2006. Final approval for the ramp build was unanimously voted in this week.

Parks Victoria will deliver the upgrade and the ramp is expected to be up and running by Spring 2022.

4. Minimum passing distance laws unified

On April 26, minimum passing distance laws came into effect in Victoria, unifying the legislation across Australia.

People driving cars must now pass people riding bikes at a distance of one metre in speed zones below 60km/h and 1.5 metres in speed zones above 60km/h.

The law is a win for bikes, as it will give people more confidence to jump on a bike and share the road with vehicles.

5. Progress on the Tasman Bridge widens

We witnessed positive steps forward with the notoriously narrow Tasman Bridge in Hobart.

Following earmarked funding to improve the bridge for bike access, ferries between Hobart and Bellerive will now offer free trips for people with bikes who don't want to ride on the Tasman Bridge.

This in-kind service offers Tasmanian riders a safe and more comfortable thoroughfare into the city, and a chance to get on the water.

How we got involved in 2021:
  • Our 2020 Bike Rider Fatality Report found that, sadly, the number of bike riders killed on our roads has not changed in 20 years.
  • We banded together with other bike organisations to sign a joint submission on important amendments to the National Road Safety Strategy, namely the need to consider vulnerable road users.
  • Our 2021 Bike Theft Report found that the number of bikes stolen in Victoria has increased by more than 80 per cent in 10 years and shows no sign of stopping.
  • Our Federal election campaign has kicked off, where we have set out our priorities and recommendations for advancing bikes in Australia. 
  • In our Federal Pre-Budget Submission, we called on the Australian Government to back 30 per cent rebates on all bike purchases.
  • We released 15,000 bits of bike count data to the public in our Super Counts Data Dashboard, offering the community an important resource for local bike advocacy.
  • We made over 30 submissions to important state and federal strategies including the National Obesity Strategy, Melbourne Land Use Framework, Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan, and Sustainability Victoria Strategy.
  • In a submission to the Australian Design Rules Development Program, we provided important recommendations that will ensure safer freight vehicles on our roads.
  • We published over 580 newsroom articles and compiled together 23 editions of ‘In The Loop’.
  • We worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure bikes weren’t forgotten across all major road and rail projects in Victoria and will continue to fight for better connections and more places to ride.

A big thank you to all our members and friends for your continued support in making Australia a better place to ride bikes.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.