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Cycle/Bike path from Watson to City?

By forgoodnessake - 1 February 2012 26

I am planning to ride to work each day on my brand new bike (new years resolution yet to be activated). As I never ever plan to ride on the road, especially down Northbourne ave I am looking for alternative routes from Watson (near the shops) to the city.

Are there any good bike paths around Watson? Don’t really want to ride along the footpaths through Dickson and then down Northbourne although this seems to be the quickest option. Footpaths are annoying to ride on and I get the odd death wobble when I have to dodge people, animals, parked cars and tree branches.  Damn it I wish I could channel my 12 year old bmx bandit self when riding now…

Anyway. I know, how sad that I am a scaredy cat and can’t ride properly. But practice will get me there and getting practice on bike paths before I take the plunge and actually ride to work is a much more appealing option. Aside from annoying obstacles the footpaths are pretty bumpy and not having padded pants makes it a pretty unpleasant ride!

Anyway. helpful replies will be appreciated!

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26 Responses to
Cycle/Bike path from Watson to City?
forgoodnessake 5:09 pm 01 Feb 12

Thanks for the ideas I can see I am going to get a lot of practice in exploring all these areas! I am sure I recall doing some kind of how to ride a bike and ride it safely on the roads course when I was in primary school. Might be an idea to revisit that idea. Or perhaps I could go along to a stay upright course and just take my bicycle instead of a bike 😀

thanks for those links Borizuka. Im going to check out that mobile ap!

troll-sniffer 4:56 pm 01 Feb 12

I see all the standard suggestions above concentrate on the traditional bike paths etc.

I take a completely different route from Watson towards the city. It’s scenic, friendly, sees little traffic interaction and allows you to look down with disdain upon the plebs.

From the Watson shops, I take the open ground paths towards the Rosary School, cross over into Hackett and head around maitland St to cut through next to the Scout Hall on Madigan St, diagonally cross Phillip Ave and follow the dirt path up to the little bridge over the drain at the back of Duffy St Ainslie, from where there is a dead flat path on the top of the embankment all the way around the back of the houses to Chisholm St. However I normally exit at the open ground at the top of Leslie St and make my way down through any number of the quiet back streets into the City.

Another way would be to scoot down from Watson into the bike path at Dickson College and exit at the back of Dumaresq St, then follow the back streets all the way into the City. Once you know the back streets and how quiet they are (even in peak hour many streets will see less than a car every few minutes) you can appreciate just how brilliant Canberra is when away from the main roads.

And as for padded shorts, they’re OK but there’s nothing like training your bum to accept the seat as is. Doesn’t take long if you persevere.

Watson 4:44 pm 01 Feb 12

I ride along Phillip Ave to get to the Fed Highway. I ride on the road because the lanes are wide enough for two cars there, but the footpath is pretty good and usually deserted. Then I ride on the bike path until it ends and continue on the service road. The first bit of the service road only gets local traffic – hardly any. The second bit does sometimes get traffic trying to bypass the lights at the Dickson intersection, but I still feel safe enough there as it’s slow moving traffic.

Then I get on the on-road bike lane at the other end of the intersection and ride that little bit – as fast as I can – until the pedestrian lights. I cross there and get on the bike path, which will take you all the way to the City. It does meander a lot and there are quite a few crossings. But if you’re not in too much of a hurry, it’s quite enjoyable.

Sometimes I take a shortcut from Dickson through Downer on the way back if I want to go straight to the shops/school – shorter and no uphill slope. I do ride on the road there too, but there is never much traffic and the streets are wide enough to feel safe. I go Melba St and turn right after the park and that takes you to the tech college on Phillip Ave, near the street to the shops (sorry, I’m a bit light on street names).

BicycleCanberra 4:06 pm 01 Feb 12

rebcart said :

it was absolutely fine, no problems at all. … The only trouble…..idiot drivers trying to run me down .

Doesn’t inspire confidence for someone starting back riding a bike . It may be OK to ‘vehicular cyclists‘ but what about the rest of the community?

KB1971 4:00 pm 01 Feb 12

Rollersk8r said :

Blah, blah, blah.

rebcart 3:52 pm 01 Feb 12

I spent a year riding down the Northbourne on-road cycle lane and it was absolutely fine, no problems at all. The only trouble I ever had with either glass on the road or idiot drivers trying to run me down was going up Northbourne towards Watson, in the other direction.

johnboy 3:43 pm 01 Feb 12

Watson to civic doesn’t need special cycling gear.

If you’re new to it I’d suggest making sure you’ve set the seat high enough that a lot of your weight is on the pedals. Going over those bumps won’t matter as much then.

carnardly 3:40 pm 01 Feb 12

helpful replies? Definitely buy the padded shorts. You will NEVER go back to normal shorts.

I seriously have no hesitation in riding on Northbourne Ave. And I stop at red lights and stop signs every time. 🙂

BicycleCanberra 3:38 pm 01 Feb 12

It will be some time before there will be a decent cycle-track or path along the side of Northbourne Ave so there is only the cycle lane. No need to where any special clothes just your work clothes and take your time.

The Sullivan’s creek path is best if you want to be away from traffic, or some of the side streets through Dickson ,Ainslie and Braddon are another option.

Gungahlin Al 3:29 pm 01 Feb 12

I agree – I avoid Northbourne like the plague. Life on the line…
The on-road cycle lane from Watson along Federal Hwy is nice and wide. Then cross over to the west side at Barton Hwy. Off-road lane to Antill/Mouat. Short bit of footpath to the Lyneham School turn-off then left into streets that run parallel to Northbourne all the way to Civic.

If you don’t like that short bit of footpath, then just go one block further west before turning south. Or a tad more and then you are on those pink off-road paths all the way to Civic.

A mirror on the helmet is an investment at $15. Between cars and bloody non-bell-ringing cyclists, it will help heaps to avoid anything wizzing past and spooking you.

Enjoy the ride. Tight buns coming up!

Rollersk8r 3:01 pm 01 Feb 12

Don’t blame you for avoiding Northbourne. The worst thing about riding to work is all the bloody cyclists! If you’re riding on the road you have chosen to become a road user and must at least attempt to follow the road rules. Blatantly ignoring red lights in peak traffic is not only stupid, it gives all cyclists a bad name.

KB1971 2:54 pm 01 Feb 12

borizuka said :

You want to stay on the pink as much as you can.


Amen to that 😛

niftydog 2:36 pm 01 Feb 12

All “bike” paths are actually shared paths, so you’ll still have to dodge people.
Also, despite what some people think, Canberra’s off-road cycling infrastructure is actually pretty patchy. It’s also meandering and entirely aimed at recreational riding – not commuting.

If you’re not in a hurry one option is to make your way on the back streets and footpaths to the shared path to the west of Dickson College. Then you’d cross Northbourne and follow the path through O’connor and Turner where the path cleverly terminates right at one of the busiest intersections in the whole city. From there into the city it’s all footpaths or on-road cycling lanes I’m afraid.

If you were me you’d make your way towards Mt Ainslie – loads of fire trails running behind the houses up there.

borizuka 2:26 pm 01 Feb 12

Take a look at
You want to stay on the pink as much as you can.

Another decent mapping site is:

Also, maybe check out your selected trip on the weekend first.

In relation to riding on the road, it’s really not that bad. My commute is 80% on the road, yes you get the odd bad driver however overall it is fine. I will say though that it does require confidence. I know there are some biking courses that are run through pedal power to help people gain confidence.

The other thing about commuting to work, is you will soon start to get bored. So try take alternative routes, get a bike computer for tracking speed! (don’t under estimate how much they help) and also if you have a fancy phone, get the Strava app, and sign up at!

Also, consider doing 3 / 4 days a week. Usually I have 1 day a week to drop my clothes, food and pick up my dirty clothes. Saves me carrying it each day.

metal 2:23 pm 01 Feb 12

when i lived in Watson – i rode the shared/bikepath on northbourne from watson to Dickson. Then at the Dickson intersection crossed over the road to Moaut st, then took the bikepaths from Lyneham neihbourhood oval (you will see the big storm drain). Then you can meander all the way to the ANU and the city via bikepaths

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