Does the cycling community get a fair go in Canberra?

Tim Gavel 5 January 2021 265
Stromlo Criterium circuit

Stromlo Criterium circuit. Photo: Tim Gavel.

When the Stromlo Forest Park sporting facility was in the pre-development phase, post the 2003 bushfires, one proposal was for a 12-kilometre loop road for cyclists.

It would meander through the park offering a safe environment for cyclists to train and compete away from the aggression of motorists on the roads around Canberra.

A 1.2-kilometre criterium circuit was built in 2008, but the track for road cyclists didn’t make it through to the development stage, much to the dismay of the Canberra cycling community.

What has emerged in the past few years is a battle for space at Stromlo, most recently demonstrated by a proposal to trim part of the criterium circuit to make way for soccer fields. Thankfully, cyclists won the day and the criterium circuit will remain intact, with a reduction in the proposed number of soccer pitches.

The cycling community was effectively on the back-foot, fighting to save what they already had in terms of cycling infrastructure, let alone being in a position to campaign for more facilities.

Nonetheless, there remains a strong desire from many in cycling circles to revisit the proposal to build a 12-kilometre track at Stromlo.

Part of the reason for this is an increase in the aggression from motorists towards cyclists.

Safety – or the lack of it – has become a significant issue in Canberra.

For a safe 12-kilometre track to be built at Stromlo, the cycling community needs to prove its participation numbers. This is an almost impossible task when you look at the number of recreational riders who are not registered with any organisation.

Talking to bike shop retailers though, they suggest sales have gone through the roof during COVID-19.


Sales of bikes took off during the COVID-19 period. Photo: File.

This means more cyclists are on the road facing ever-increasing safety risks, despite the improvement in bike paths around the city.

Bike paths have also become more dangerous as the popularity of motorised scooters increases and more scooter-riders start using bike paths.

Another issue that needs to be factored in is the lack of space allocated to sporting fields in the suburbs, particularly in new suburbs.

If land had been allocated in some of the new developments around Molonglo, there wouldn’t be a need to use the Stromlo Forest Park space for soccer fields.

As the population grows, the lack of planning and problems created because of this lack of forward-thinking will become increasingly evident.

What's Your Opinion?

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265 Responses to Does the cycling community get a fair go in Canberra?
Jarrod Osborne Jarrod Osborne 7:42 pm 12 Jan 21

Two words - “BIKE...PATH”. Says it all

Michelle Richens Michelle Richens 9:02 am 10 Jan 21

Agree 100%

Gabi de Bartha Gabi de Bartha 5:25 pm 08 Jan 21

They don’t know participation numbers? Might be worth considering a small fee for registration and compulsory third party... that way there are funds to put towards the development and maintenance of bike paths and lanes - plus money to help them if injured!

Terry Larkham Terry Larkham 5:22 pm 08 Jan 21

Poor petals

Keith Abram Keith Abram 3:22 pm 08 Jan 21

Put a speed limit of 20KPH on them with a passing limit of 10KPH. I've had cyclists pass me on downhill sections dong 40KPH one was at a blind spot where the cyclists went into a bit of a wobble when he spotted me, what would have happened if he had hit me at that speed. Duel use pathways ARE NOT RACTRACKS.

Jarred Ranieri Jarred Ranieri 11:13 am 08 Jan 21

JT Multisport give your thoughts

Nick Swain Nick Swain 10:10 pm 07 Jan 21

The conversation seems to have ignored the fact that bicycles and scooters should give way to pedestrians, including people with prams and walking dogs. On the ever more crowded shared pathways this can be frustrating to those who want to go faster. The need to separate out faster traffic from walkers is growing. Also growing is the need for wider pathways so there is room for all – many footpaths are not even wide enough for two people to walk side by side yet alone share with bicycles and scooters.

Brooklyn Nun Ya Brooklyn Nun Ya 4:56 pm 07 Jan 21

So it’s ok for bikers to go on the road but scooters can’t go on bike paths seriously

    Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford 6:18 pm 07 Jan 21

    Brooklyn Nun Ya no-one has said that. Read the article.

Thomas Challen Thomas Challen 10:20 am 07 Jan 21

Bike paths are good in Canberra compared to most places. One thing, some of the non hire scooters are crazy fast, if the operater has a brain it isn't a huge issue though.

    Timothy Bailey Timothy Bailey 4:24 pm 09 Jan 21

    They are NOT bike-paths they are shared paths. And most cyclists I see on them are not the sharing kind

    I've been run over by cyclists while walking on these paths, yelled at, etc.

    Rarely do they bother to ring their bell, IF they have one.

    I've been a real 'green' since 1981 when we bought a small 14-15 sq BV house in Kambah. Why? It faced North and ran due East-West. Added long & deep shaded (91% shade) deck on Nth side. R6 plus in roof space. Rock-wool in all external walls. I used to ride to work, back in the 1980s in to Barton, and to Tuggeranong in the 1990s.

    IMO&E too many Canberra cyclists are over-privileged yuppies who 'believe' they are green. Or muscle-brained exercise fanatics who HATE to slow down!

theroundone theroundone 9:49 am 07 Jan 21

Of all the things Canberrans could choose to comment on, this is the subject that gets a visceral response.

Canberran’s do not have correct priorities.

Joey J James Joey J James 7:41 am 07 Jan 21

Oh poor bloody cyclists!!and thats a lie! they never use the provided bike paths so how are they worried by scooters.

And if they cant deal with road rage and scooters how are they expected to deal with all the traffic and responsibilities of being on the road?

    Simon Wheaton Simon Wheaton 3:36 am 08 Jan 21

    Joey J James I only use the provided bike paths, and see many other cyclists using them as well.

    They can deal with scooters, no one said they can't.

    Alan Vogt Alan Vogt 12:23 pm 12 Jan 21

    Cyclists use cycleways all the time. It is very popular, now more so than ever...

Barney Voveris Barney Voveris 7:33 am 07 Jan 21

What do they want the roads and cycle paths all to them salves the next thing that will happen is that you won’t even be allowed to overtake a push bike you have your bike lanes and you can’t even stay inside them so stop whinging all of you peddle pushers you are lucky that you don’t have to pay for rego or insurance for using the roads maybe you should and that might stop you from carrying on

    Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford 9:17 am 07 Jan 21

    Barney Voveris if you're tired of paying registration and CTP the answer is simple: stop using your dangerous motor vehicle.

    Where in the article does it say that cyclists want the roads and cycle paths to themselves? Or are you just off on a little inflammatory rant without foundation?

    Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford 10:22 am 07 Jan 21

    William Scott given that:

    1. motor vehicle registration and driver licensing systems were introduced early in the 20th century specifically to address the carnage created on the roads by motor vehicles; and

    2. motor vehicles in Australia kill in excess of 1100 people each year

    it is scarcely surprising to observe that cars are dangerous. I don't see why this appears to be controversial to you.

    I'm all in favour of people sharing the road. You say that cyclists should come to the table on this without explaining what that means. I'm not sure that I understand your comment. I agree that cyclists, like every other road user, should obey the law but I also know that there is no evidence that suggests they break the law more commonly than any other group of road users. I don't know if that's what you were getting at.

    I also support dedicated cycling infrastructure but it would be naive to think that this will be anything like a solution in the short term. The cost and land resumption issues that it raises are simply too great for our political process to deal with. Look at the outcry that has been raised recently in Sydney when people opposed more cycle lanes because it meant they wouldn't be able to park their cars in front of their house (and as an illustration of our car-centric culture this is a good one. Why should people be able to insist on parking their cars for free on public land?).

    But, once you create such a separate cycling network that duplicates every road and is safe and properly maintained, I'll be more than happy to use it.

    Barney Voveris Barney Voveris 11:59 am 07 Jan 21

    Brian Rutherford you have got great bike paths so why don’t you use them instead of the roads

    Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford 12:04 pm 07 Jan 21

    Barney Voveris because I don't agree that they're great. They're so badly maintained, for instance, that the state of them was listed by the Coroner as a cause of a recent death.

    Because if I took shared use paths alone it would double my commute time and not be any safer.

    Because I don't question your right to use the road so where do you get off questioning mine?

    Now, speaking as a motorist of more than forty years experience over well over a million kays, why do you find it hard to drive around cyclists? It's a snap if your eyes are open.

    Barney Voveris Barney Voveris 12:06 pm 07 Jan 21

    Also no evidence showing that they break the road rules are you blind all you have to do is look at most of the peddle pushers and they are breaking the law no helmets running red lights running stop signs and I’ve even seen them cutting off (cars) traffic and i have even seen riders even getting up them as well

    Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford 12:08 pm 07 Jan 21

    Barney Voveris where did I say that? I didn't, so stop making things up.

    What I have said is that cyclists beak the laws at about the same rate as other road users. Police have no trouble fining them for doing so.

    Barney Voveris Barney Voveris 12:13 pm 07 Jan 21

    Brian Rutherford well i have over 40 years also so don’t tell me one day i was travelling on Adelaide avenue and there was about 30 to 40 bikes and i had to turn off but had to wait because they have got right away luckily there wasn’t much traffic at the time but a couple of cars had to take evasive action so as to not have a accident

    Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford 12:15 pm 07 Jan 21

    Barney Voveris so you had to wait until you could turn left. How sad.

    Seriously, that’s it? That’s all you’ve got?

    What about this guy? He blew through a stop sign and would have knocked me off my bike and into the traffic behind me if I hadn't seen him coming. Note also the 'watch for bikes' sign and the cop right in front of us who did precisely nothing.

    Barney Voveris Barney Voveris 12:22 pm 07 Jan 21

    Brian Rutherford the police were there why didn’t you cry to them

    Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford 12:24 pm 07 Jan 21

    Barney Voveris because I have a good relationship with the local station and save my complaints for more serious matters. If I complained every time something like this happened I’d have to set up my own office.

    Barney Voveris Barney Voveris 12:25 pm 07 Jan 21

    Brian Rutherford a good relationship you must complain alot

    Lex Boyd Lex Boyd 1:01 pm 07 Jan 21

    Brian Rutherford because you don’t pay a fee to have that right it’s free and there is the problem, believing you have a right to those services.

    Lex Boyd Lex Boyd 1:03 pm 07 Jan 21

    Brian Rutherford maybe the police agree with car drivers as they have seen so many bike created incidents themselves

    Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford 1:05 pm 07 Jan 21

    Lex Boyd what services?

    Lex Boyd Lex Boyd 1:17 pm 07 Jan 21

    Brian Rutherford the roads & bike/pedestrian paths. Your concerns are on traffic is easily solved move to the pedestrian paths slow down and cycle free of vehicles, pretty simple.

    Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford 1:19 pm 07 Jan 21

    Lex Boyd thanks for the advice, but I think I'll keep using the roads that my taxes helped pay for.

    If you drive legally that won't be a problem.

    Lex Boyd Lex Boyd 1:22 pm 07 Jan 21

    Brian Rutherford your taxes, fuel taxes pay for roads now if you are cycling you are gaining a free advantage over the funders of these roads.

    Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford 1:30 pm 07 Jan 21

    Lex Boyd provide a single government link that shows that fuel excise pays for roads. It doesn't.

    Fuel excise is collected by the Commonwealth Government and goes straight to Consolidated Revenue. The Commonwealth builds no roads, and fuel excise is not hypothecated to road construction.

    Which is a pity, because if all fuel excise was dedicated to that it would - almost - cover the damage motor vehicles do to those roads.

    Alan Vogt Alan Vogt 12:26 pm 12 Jan 21

    Lex Boyd you might want to read up on that...

    Lex Boyd Lex Boyd 12:59 pm 12 Jan 21

    Brian Rutherford slight of hand with a name change by the commonwealth

    Lex Boyd Lex Boyd 1:04 pm 12 Jan 21

    Alan Vogt All is needed is to create a registration plate system for on road cyclists.

Margy Duke Margy Duke 7:30 am 07 Jan 21

Its the arrogance that I've had enough of...Im sure not all cyclists are that way but I've sure had my share of them. I've had the roof of my car punched and slapped numerous times for stopping yo give incident a cyclist in Yarralumbla slapped my car and yelled at me because i stopped at a round about to lawfully give way and that inconvenienced the rider, I've been yelled at and sworn at for obeying car road rules, I've had my car kicked by a cyclist for the same..on and on and on. I do the right thing by cyclists on the road but the arrogant attitude i get back is nuts. I truly dont get the riding on the roads thing...they ride for excersise and health YET....they are sucking in tonns of carbonmonoxide ??? 🤔 oh...and dont even get me started on their arrogant and rude behaviours towards many times I've nearly been hit or seen others hit because they think they have thought of way.

    Donna Fitzgerald-verrent Donna Fitzgerald-verrent 10:04 am 07 Jan 21

    My daughter was driving her car from manuka not long, when she got to the traffic lights on Wentworth Avenue and Cunningham Street lights a cyclists pulled up beside her he kick her mirror and broke it off and damaged her car because she was to close to him the cops seen what he done and charged him, she had done nothing wrong

Lisa Maree Dalla Lisa Maree Dalla 6:15 am 07 Jan 21

Pay rego for the roads, simple

    Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford 7:42 am 07 Jan 21

    Lisa Maree Dalla rego doesn't pay for roads.🤦

    Adam Craven Adam Craven 2:46 pm 07 Jan 21

    William Scott it has been looked at and it was found it wouldn’t be economically viable. I don’t have the source for that to hand but can try to find it if required

    Brian Rutherford Brian Rutherford 2:46 pm 07 Jan 21

    William Scott no, in fact registration barely covers the administrative cost of the registration scheme. You’re also ignoring the cost that motor vehicles cause by their damage to roads because of their weight and torque.

    Governments around the country have repeatedly looked at bicycle registration and concluded that it wasn’t worth the effort or expense. That’s their call, not cyclists’.

    Interestingly, it’s also opposed by the NRMA, RACV and RACQ.

Sarah Fahey Sarah Fahey 5:18 am 07 Jan 21

Cyclists need to remember to give way to pedestrians always.

Peter Shrekidis Peter Shrekidis 9:20 pm 06 Jan 21

How will scooter riders make it more dangerous for bike riders? You just throw that sentence in the without any justification.

    Simon Wheaton Simon Wheaton 3:35 am 07 Jan 21

    Peter Shrekidis it is just saying that the shared paths are more busy with the added traffic of scooters added to them recently, not that scooters themselves are a greater danger to cyclists.

    Simon Wheaton Simon Wheaton 3:41 am 08 Jan 21

    William Scott they do have an idea on how to deal with people on paths.

    Some cyclists simply want an separate road course loop at Stromlo so they can practice competitive cycling away from the traffic of normal roads.

    Imagine drivers who whine about them being on the road, whining about a facility that would take some of them off the road, LOL!

Adrian Hobbs Adrian Hobbs 9:09 pm 06 Jan 21

I cycle. I also pay registration on 3 vehicles. So I reckon I have 3 times as much right to be on the road as most people.

    Gordon Arthur Truesdale Gordon Arthur Truesdale 1:17 pm 07 Jan 21

    Adrian Hobbs, I agree with you, so long as you are driving your three vehicles at the same time!

Morgan Small Morgan Small 8:28 pm 06 Jan 21

Funny how everyone who comments on this topic is a saint…

Illyria Tyers Illyria Tyers 8:19 pm 06 Jan 21

oh well .. maybe they will have to be considerate themselves instead of thinking the world revolves around them

    Ted Hennicke Ted Hennicke 8:46 pm 06 Jan 21

    Illyria Tyers As a cyclist myself, I always assume that of course the world revolves around me. Are you telling me that I'm wrong? Gee, I'll have to do some self-reflection if that's the case. Thanks for the heads up

Tim Stevenson Tim Stevenson 5:41 pm 06 Jan 21

Try cycling in any other city in Australia. Cycling in Canberra is a breeze!

    Paul Mychailuk Paul Mychailuk 9:07 am 07 Jan 21

    Tim Stevenson 100%. I've ridden in Perth where there are no bike lanes and little to no shoulder, and Cairns where I was t-boned by a car, and assaulted by a ute driver (who I called out for nearly side swiping me), in separate incidents.

    Canberra drivers have been nothing but considerate in all the road riding I've done here, unfotunately it's only good riding weather for maybe 4 months tops 😕

    Tim Stevenson Tim Stevenson 9:39 am 07 Jan 21

    William Scott in Newcastle cyclists can't ride on footpaths, there's hardly any cycle paths and next to no shoulders on the roads. Cars miss you by a foot or two constantly. A friend from Canberra rode with me here and was terrified

    Simon Wheaton Simon Wheaton 3:43 am 08 Jan 21

    William Scott they don't want to ride in the gutter and break down lane, that is why some choose to ride in the normal lane instead of the bike lane, why they want to ride in the normal lane when riding in groups, and why they want a separate road training facility to practice on.

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