Cycle/Bike path from Watson to City?

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?
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borizuka borizuka 2:02 pm 02 Feb 12

Here you go guys. Join the virtual comp, and rate your performances on Northbourne!

Southbound: http://app.strava.com/segments/818644
Northbound: http://app.strava.com/segments/924495

I find Northbourne pretty good compared to Limestone Av. Really just keep up your speed, watch for cars and keep eye contact with cars during intersections. The bike lane is pretty wide compared to places with no bike lane.

The more bikes there are on the road, the quicker the acceptance and education process will be for fellow motorists and new cyclists.

Watson Watson 12:25 pm 02 Feb 12

KB1971 said :

Bussie said :

If you’re riding down Northbourne and you’re coming up to a bus stop with a bus behind and the bus drivers slows down to let you get past the stop before they pull in please ride faster if possible.

Just curious, if I were punting towards the city at the busy time at 30-40km/h would I be a PITA (given that my average speed from Lanyon to the City is 30km/h)?

Are these the guys that hold the bus up or is it the riders that dawdle along on crap bikes with half flat tyres & screaming chains?

Not trying to start any crap its just that Northbourne does not flow that fast at the best of times.When I am approaching from the south across Commonwealth Ave I quite often find myself passing cars or doing a similar speed at the busy times. For me the worst time is the transition period between quiet & busy as the people travelling then seem to be in an awful hurry & tend to do stupid things while I am negotiating the green lanes.

I guess one of the reasons I mention this is as I am approaching Vernon Circle I am doing anywhere between 30 & 35km/h & I am tapped out at that point…… 🙂

I slow down if I think I’m not going to make it past the bus stop before the bus reaches me and let him overtake and pull over ahead of me. If I think I can make it, the race is on and usually I am past the stop before the bus starts slowing down to pull over.

So I reckon it all comes down to judging your speed and the bus’ and getting your timing right? If you make a misjudgement – or are one of those cyclists who refuse to slow down for anything, you’d be less of a PITA if you’re fast getting out of the way.

I do think mirrors on push bikes should be made mandatory. I couldn’t ride without mine anymore and it greatly helps me in anticipating and adjusting to traffic.

KB1971 KB1971 11:58 am 02 Feb 12

Bussie said :

If you’re riding down Northbourne and you’re coming up to a bus stop with a bus behind and the bus drivers slows down to let you get past the stop before they pull in please ride faster if possible.

Just curious, if I were punting towards the city at the busy time at 30-40km/h would I be a PITA (given that my average speed from Lanyon to the City is 30km/h)?

Are these the guys that hold the bus up or is it the riders that dawdle along on crap bikes with half flat tyres & screaming chains?

Not trying to start any crap its just that Northbourne does not flow that fast at the best of times.When I am approaching from the south across Commonwealth Ave I quite often find myself passing cars or doing a similar speed at the busy times. For me the worst time is the transition period between quiet & busy as the people travelling then seem to be in an awful hurry & tend to do stupid things while I am negotiating the green lanes.

I guess one of the reasons I mention this is as I am approaching Vernon Circle I am doing anywhere between 30 & 35km/h & I am tapped out at that point…… 🙂

Watson Watson 11:15 am 02 Feb 12

Bussie said :

If you’re riding down Northbourne and you’re coming up to a bus stop with a bus behind and the bus drivers slows down to let you get past the stop before they pull in please ride faster if possible.

Hehe, I do. Which still isn’t very fast, but I do actually enjoy that sprint and it’s a good feeling when I “win” and don’t hold up the bus.

I once was on the green painted bit of the bike lane approaching the Dickson intersection, going North in peak hour traffic, when I heard a firetruck coming up behind me. I tell you, that made me ride faster than I ever had because you never know which way the truck’s going to go and I really didn’t want to be the one holding it up and the only way I could safely go was forward and onto the traffic island.

jackthemartin jackthemartin 10:48 am 02 Feb 12

A good way off-road way to get from watson shops to the city is to use the ‘ainslie houses trail’, which is the lowest dirt road around the base on mount ainslie.

It is quite flat, relatively direct (compared to the main inner north bike path), smooth enough surface that it can be done with fairly skinny tyres, and doesn’t cross any roads between the top of phillip ave and the top of ainslie ave.

You can get to the start using the behind-the-houses footpath from near the watson shops to the catholic university, then the dirt path along the drain from dickson college to the top of phillip avenue. A side path will take you to the top of Ainslie avenue, which is just a few blocks from the city with a good footpath

Bussie Bussie 10:08 am 02 Feb 12

If you’re riding down Northbourne and you’re coming up to a bus stop with a bus behind and the bus drivers slows down to let you get past the stop before they pull in please ride faster if possible.

Innovation Innovation 8:21 am 02 Feb 12

So do I. It’s just that I’ve seen quite a few cyclists get caught doing it.

Watson Watson 6:52 pm 01 Feb 12

Innovation said :

As a returned cyclist after a long break, I understand your concerns about riding on busy roads. I can’t help you with other routes but I have started regularly riding on Northbourne. It’s actually not that bad, especially riding towards Civic in peak hour as the cyclists are often moving faster than the (parked) cars. The only issues are beware of cars with their left hand indicator on (hopefully) as they might not see you behind/beside them when they turn and passing stationary buses is a problem as the buses often pull out too quickly when you are only half way past.

IMO the more cyclists and small motorcycles on the road the better. Drivers will learn to expect them more often and drive accordingly and it wouldn’t hurt to slow the traffic down a bit in some areas.

I NEVER overtake a bus at a bus stop on Northbourne! That is definitely not worth the risk IMO. I either get on the footpath to pass it or just wait behind the bus until it moves off.

Innovation Innovation 6:03 pm 01 Feb 12

As a returned cyclist after a long break, I understand your concerns about riding on busy roads. I can’t help you with other routes but I have started regularly riding on Northbourne. It’s actually not that bad, especially riding towards Civic in peak hour as the cyclists are often moving faster than the (parked) cars. The only issues are beware of cars with their left hand indicator on (hopefully) as they might not see you behind/beside them when they turn and passing stationary buses is a problem as the buses often pull out too quickly when you are only half way past.

IMO the more cyclists and small motorcycles on the road the better. Drivers will learn to expect them more often and drive accordingly and it wouldn’t hurt to slow the traffic down a bit in some areas.

poetix poetix 5:49 pm 01 Feb 12

forgoodnessake said :

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!

Don’t go on the road. It’s not worth the risk. Just read some of the other threads on this site to learn about drivers’ attitudes. Stick to the bike-paths. Then you’ll only be abused by idiots (particularly older men in lycra) if you’re not going fast enough, and that’s not fatal! (It is totally unnecessary and rude and stupid and gung-ho, but not life-threatening.)

I used to ride on the roads in inner Melbourne a long time ago, but I think Canberra drivers are far more intolerant than in Melbourne.

forgoodnessake 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!

    johnboy johnboy 5:15 pm 01 Feb 12

    Another big tip is eye contact.

    If you’re coming up to and intersection where you’re hoping a car will give way it seems to help a lot to get the driver’s eye.

    Then you can give them a friendly wave or head nod when they stop for you!

troll-sniffer 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 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 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 KB1971 4:00 pm 01 Feb 12

Rollersk8r said :

Blah, blah, blah.

rebcart 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 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 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 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 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!

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