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Stromlo Bike Park – Is it ever good for kids?

By Emily Morris - 6 February 2015 26

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I took my kids along to Stromlo Bike Park over Christmas and it was excellent – the wide road made for a great ‘practice’ space for my daughter to learn to ride without her training wheels and my little ones were free to play.  There were a few other people there – some cycling the track and many like us and enjoying the opportunity for the kids.

I have tried to recreate this since but every time I go there are loads of pretty serious cyclists whizzing around the track training.

I don’t for a minute begrudge the cyclists, but wanted to know if there are any times  that are better for kids (or, a time when cyclists tend not to be training).

Does anyone have any insight?

What’s Your opinion?


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26 Responses to
Stromlo Bike Park – Is it ever good for kids?
Acton 9:45 am 09 Feb 15

Maya123 said:
“I said as I passed that her child shouldn’t be in the middle of the busy path. Her astonishing reply, “But he’s so little, you can go around him.” No concept of the danger she was putting her child or others in, or the inconvenience she was causing by allowing her toddler to play there.”

No concept of the danger you are putting children or others in, or the consequence of your own unsafe, selfish and inconsiderate riding attitude.
I am seeing more and more near misses involving cyclists and pedestrians.
This is happening on our shared paths, particularly around the lake, where people are slowly walking with young kids and a cyclist in racing gear comes hurtling past, from in front or behind, without any warning, acknowledgement or slowing.
Their attitude is that they have a right to pedal at high speed without the inconvenience of prams, kids, dogs, the elderly, families, walkers, tourists, joggers etc blocking their way.
The path around the lake was intended for leisurely use, not as a high-speed velodrome for the personal use of wannabe Lance Armstrongs aiming for a new PB.
Here is the consequence to think about:
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/nsw/pedestrian-emily-greenwood-run-down-by-cyclist-20150111-12iii9.html

Ezy 8:29 am 09 Feb 15

Another option – grass ovals.

On Saturday afternoon my wife and I had a busy day looking at houses, we just needed some time out and headed to Rivett oval. Within 5 minutes of sitting down, a family appeared on the oval with a young child who was obviously very new to the bike. The dad would push the child and within 20 seconds the child would start to wobble and fall off with a laugh. Now riding on grass isn’t ideal because of the rolling resistance from the grass, but it does give the child a soft landing if they get the wobbles and have a fall. 30 minutes later the child was riding around full of laughs because he just learned to ride a bike. It was good to watch.

Nerdling 9:42 pm 08 Feb 15

Take a look at the On Road Radio Controlled Car Track in Kambah (off Kett St). It’s only in use by the club every 2nd Sunday. The track is around 3m wide.

I’ve seen plenty of young kids riding around the track on their bikes.

Postalgeek 9:08 pm 08 Feb 15

A good spot for kids to learn is Parkes, around the fountains in front of old Parliament House. Big flat areas with no traffic, lots of shaded avenues and paths which are great in the peak of summer, and the Pork Barrel cafe for refreshments.

dundle 5:31 pm 08 Feb 15

Hi I am one of those serious cyclists (although not as serious as some as I only do 30/40kmh on Stromlo and sadly not 50/60kmh). I hate it when there are kids on the track to be honest. It’s a criterium designed for cycling an I don’t think it is really a “learn to ride” type of place. I’m actually surprised Pedal Power recommends it for kids as I did not think that was its purpose.

If you go with kids then stay in the middle or at least keep left – basically just follow normal road rules you would anywhere and look out for others – I am able to go around people and have had no problems training when there are kids there who stay in the centre area (which can be fenced) or who keep left and respond to bells. It is only a problem when they are not supervised and/or stop randomly, go very slowly, stay in the centre of the path or what have you. Obviously cyclists will not try to hit anybody but when you are doing 40kmh it’s not always easy to stop suddenly and you don’t want to be in a position where you have to slam on the brakes for a toddler (for both your and their sakes).

However, I have been to Stromlo at around 8am on a weekday and it was pretty empty, if that helps. During the day probably as well (if you don’t work).

It’s probably best to pick other places though e.g. the carparks in Barton are empty on weekends and great for learning – adult clubs have been known to do cycling skills in such carparks. In fact any work-related carpark empty on weekends and some oval carparks empty on weekdays. You will have to watch for cars but they would be less frequent and slower than cyclists at Stromlo. Depending on your age of the child they could also go to outdoor paved basketball courts such as at schools when those are empty. Or just the regular shared paths. They have a lot of people cycling too but the speeds are generally lower and most people are more aware of obstacles and use their bells (compared to on the track where cyclists will take the lack of pedestrians/traffic lights etc. to really train hard as it’s the only opportunity). Some shared paths in Canberra are used more frequently than others and there are some areas around Lake BG which are wider than an average path so have more room for manoeuvring (although near the water’s edge).

Hope that helps

Maya123 12:46 pm 07 Feb 15

tooltime said :

Whats wrong with these places? Weston Park, around the lake, Queanbeyan Park, fountain area near Old Parly House, Exhbition Park. any government department parking space on a weekend. All of these are pretty good for kids to learn on….Im sure theres plenty more closer to your home as well….

“around the lake”.
It’s not really a good idea for a new rider to wobble along the lake side bike paths until they are a confident rider. It’s better to find a less used path. I am most familiar with the Lake Burley Griffin bike path and families with small children who don’t ride very well and wobbly about the path and don’t have a good concept or the brain development yet of the concept of keep left, are a hazard at any time, but especially in peak hour when adults are cycling to or from work at much greater speeds. All parties involved could get hurt in such a situation.
But sadly I don’t think some parents can see the danger to their children or others. This was brought home to me some years ago when riding home from work at peak hour. The path was busy with a person cycling past every few seconds. This was of no importance though to the mother sitting watching her toddler playing in the middle of the path with people on bikes having to go around the child. I said as I passed that her child shouldn’t be in the middle of the busy path. Her astonishing reply, “But he’s so little, you can go around him.” No concept of the danger she was putting her child or others in, or the inconvenience she was causing by allowing her toddler to play there. Not as bad, but inexperienced children on bikes are a hazard too, both for themselves and to others. Better they learn to ride away from busy paths.

Emily Morris 7:52 pm 06 Feb 15

tuco said :

Hamlet201 said :

It’s the same problem for dog walkers.

Do you mean you walk your dog on the crit track? And you think that’s a problem for dog walkers – imagine how the cyclists must feel.

OP – you’ll find people training there will go fairly hard. That’s the nature of it. Your best bet is to find a time when the training or racing isn’t on – check here for events:

http://stromloforestpark.com.au/bookings-events/confirmed-bookings

Have you had a look at the wide flat paths around the water settlement ponds near the RSPCA? Flat and quiet, and you won’t run into any other traffic. It’s also close to Stromlo if travelling is a factor.

Best of luck.

Thanks – I wasn’t aware of the paths near RSPCA!

tooltime 6:02 pm 06 Feb 15

Whats wrong with these places? Weston Park, around the lake, Queanbeyan Park, fountain area near Old Parly House, Exhbition Park. any government department parking space on a weekend. All of these are pretty good for kids to learn on….Im sure theres plenty more closer to your home as well….

OpenYourMind 5:33 pm 06 Feb 15

It is open to the public, however it’s designed for racing. Bit like going to Wakefield Park (albeit it’s a closed track) in your 120Y and wondering about all those cars whizzing past. If you’ve got kids, there’s a dedicated kids area with safe fences and little intersections and whatnot.

Really, if you are going to use the big racetrack, it’s probably not a wise move to have an unstable, new to riding family member using the same space as a racing cyclist training at up to 50-60km/h.

tuco 4:00 pm 06 Feb 15

Hamlet201 said :

It’s the same problem for dog walkers.

Do you mean you walk your dog on the crit track? And you think that’s a problem for dog walkers – imagine how the cyclists must feel.

OP – you’ll find people training there will go fairly hard. That’s the nature of it. Your best bet is to find a time when the training or racing isn’t on – check here for events:

http://stromloforestpark.com.au/bookings-events/confirmed-bookings

Have you had a look at the wide flat paths around the water settlement ponds near the RSPCA? Flat and quiet, and you won’t run into any other traffic. It’s also close to Stromlo if travelling is a factor.

Best of luck.

watto23 3:34 pm 06 Feb 15

I never thought Stromlo bike park was for children to learn to ride at. It was always aimed for mountain biking etc.

Alexandra Craig 2:57 pm 06 Feb 15

I’ve only ever been there once – it was for a 101 Humans/Human Brochure activity – and there was hardly anyone there at 8.30am on a Saturday morning. However, that was in June and it was about 1 degree so maybe all the cyclists come out in summer.

thatsnotme 2:35 pm 06 Feb 15

Outside of work hours are always going to be busy. Early morning or after 5 on a weekday, and pretty much every weekend all day – but then again mostly busier in the morning and evenings in summer.

If you were able to get out there on a weekday between around 9am – 4pm, it’ll probably be pretty quiet. Other times, it’s going to be a gamble.

Check out local schools for basketball / tennis courts that are accessible outside of school hours too, they’re also nice open areas for bike riding practice.

Ezy 2:33 pm 06 Feb 15

Good work for getting your kids out on the bike! It’s a sport/recreation that they will value!

I am a out at Stromlo at varied times with my mountain bike – and you can never really guess when the criterium track is going to be used by cyclists for training or racing. Sometimes you will also encounter roller bladers and skateboarders. It would be vary rare to have the track all to yourself. There is usually a handful of cyclists on the track every time I head out there. It is mostly used during the week each day straight after work when they hold criterium races.

When the races aren’t happening – there is a section in the middle of the track that can be used (hopefully you know the area I am talking about), but be vary wary of your kids if they are going to be learning here – tell them not to go onto the actual track as the cyclists tend to reach speeds of 50-60km/h on those straights.

Can I suggest maybe trying somewhere else if you find that the track is over run with cyclists when you are there? Some of the schools in the local area would have basketball courts or big open hard surface areas for teaching your daughter to ride. Stromlo High has a really nice surface.

Hamlet201 1:31 pm 06 Feb 15

It’s the same problem for dog walkers.

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