Tuesday, 1 March 2011


Last weekend I had to go to Canberra for meetings. If ever there was a city crying out for better cycling infrastructure, Canberra is it.

I stayed at University House which is part of the Australian National University. It is in one of the original parts of Canberra designed by Walter Burley-Griffin and is a textbook example of good urban planning. It is a beautiful area. The houses are attractive and surrounded by tall gum trees. There is something to be said for walking around that sort of environment and then turning the corner to see the place where the nation's laws are made.

Pedestrians are looked after with decent crossings like this one:

There are a few quite wide cycle lanes too:

Regrettably, as is so often the way, they come to an abrupt halt just where you need them most. This one ends at the roundabout but it is not necessarily a bad thing because traffic is quite sparse and slow moving. I saw a lot of people on bikes. Interestingly, like in Byron Bay, at least 50% of those I saw choose to ride like the rest of the world does - in normal clothes and without a helmet. It must be an Eastern States thing.

Once you get into the centre of town, things are not quite as rosy. Roads are wide and can be fast moving:

Only a few have bike lanes and they are only the painted on type:

Plenty of space is of course set aside for the storage of motor vehicles:

Having said that, there were still lots of cyclists. This was one of the only bike racks I saw (and there are quite a few around) that had no bikes on it (this was a Sunday!):

This one matches the concrete brutalist architecture of the High Court:

There are some decent paths if you look hard enough, particularly by the lake. From what I could tell on my bus ride back to the airport, you could probably cycle the whole way from the city to the airport on a Linear Park style track although it is poorly signposted and looked to me like you could easily get lost.

Canberra is a fairly small city but unfortunately not very walkable. The sights and monuments are relatively close to each other but can still be quite a walk. Going from Civic to Parliament House looks like a short stroll across the bridge but things can be deceiving. It takes ages. You really need a bike. A decent bike hire scheme with docking stations in the city centre and at all of the attractions would be just great for visitors. Like in Adelaide, roads are wide and there is masses of space in between them - plenty of space for an integrated bike network. You would think the nation's capital could provide an example of intelligent transport planning. The city itself is well planned. It just needs that final step.

1 comment:

  1. On Sunday I was lucky enough to be involved in one, The Canberra Tweed Ride. It is very interesting to ride in mountain places..Bikes Canberra