Will Greater Infrastructure Spending Increase Bike Commuting?


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Part 2 in a 3-part series by Nina Vucetic – Director of Sydney-based Electric Bikes firm Reef Bikes.

Australia’s biggest city is attempting to increase cycling, with ambitious plans to introduce a 200 kilometre network of cycle lanes (55km of which will  be fully separated) by 2016. Whilst 84% of Sydney’s residents consider the plan a positive addition to the city’s infrastructure, it will be a few years before the success of the scheme can be judged. However, some North American cities have already invested heavily in their bicycle infrastructure, seeing a resulting increase in usage.


In Portland, the construction of 500km of developed bikeways has resulted in approximately 10% of Portlanders now identifying bikes as their primary mode of transport.

Portland had a non existent bike culture 20 years ago. The man behind the transformation of Portland into a bike friendly city says that Sydney can also become a cycling city, citing the construction of more dedicated cycle paths as vital to this. He also noted that it was a question of government and political will – something that Sydney has embraced with their planned $76 million spending over the next four years on bike path infrastructure.


Bicycle use has increased by as much as 40 per cent since 2008 in areas of Montreal where the city has invested in bike paths or lanes, according to a new McGill University study.

New York

From 2006 – 2009, New York City built 200 miles of bike lanes and saw a 45% increase in commuter cycling

There is hope that government financial backing, community approval of the Cycle Plan, and new cycle paths will help turn Sydney into bicycle friendly City, with improvements in health, the environment and a reduction in Sydney’s congestion and greenhouse gas emission problems. Whilst the success of similar plans in North American cities can’t act as a guarantee of improved cycling rates in Sydney, it certainly is a positive sign.

Images courtesy of misswired, urbanista_1, bob august, and James D. Scwartz on flickr

  • atomheartfather

    It all depends on the quality of the infrastructure. If traffic planners think in terms of making it feel safe for a 10 year old child or 70 year old pensioner to cycle, they are on the right track. If their vision of a “cyclist” is the 30 year old slender sporty male, well, cycling will continue to be dominated by such people.

    But as the article points out, there have been many successes recently. Darlington in the UK increased cycling rates by 113% in 3 years to a modal share of 3%, and Sevilla in Spain by 1000% to a modal share of 7% over the same timespan. And of course the Netherlands has had a high modal share for a long time, very much based on more and better cycling infrastructure.

    Cycling infrastructure needs to be consciously designed to shift the cycling paradigm away from vehicular cycling and towards a much more relaxed and pleasant way to move around towns and cities.

  • http://twitter.com/NhTammi Tammi Nh

    What was the name of the article on the Montreal Gazette? The link is broken because they changed the URL of the blog.

    Was this the article, or was it something else?