Bicycle riding in Boroondara today

We reviewed Boroondara’s bicycle network and travel patterns to understand bicycle riding in Boroondara today and identify what our Strategy needed to focus on. 

Our on-road bicycle network

Our on-road bicycle network is generally made up of 1.5-metre lanes or wide kerbside lanes. The lanes are often shared with, or next to, parking and traffic along roads with a speed limit of 40 km per hour or higher. Suburbs closer to the CBD, including Hawthorn and Kew, have more on-road bicycle infrastructure along main roads.There is currently only 1 km of protected on-road bicycle infrastructure in Boroondara located along Yarra Boulevard in Kew.

Our off-road bicycle network  

Formal shared paths

Our off-road bicycle network includes 37 km of formal shared paths. Formal shared paths are designated through linemarking or signage, and usually have sealed surfaces such as concrete or asphalt.

Our formal shared paths include the:

  • Anniversary Outer Circle Trail
  • Koonung Trail 
  • Main Yarra Trail 
  • Gardiners Creek Trail. 

These paths generally run along historic railway lines, rivers or creeks. Between Monday and Friday, these paths are used a lot for commuting. On weekends, they are mainly used for recreation by pedestrians, dog walkers, joggers and cyclists. 

A person riding their bike along a formal shared path

Informal shared paths

Our off-road bicycle network also includes 75 km of informal shared paths. Informal shared paths are not formally signposted or linemarked. They are usually unsealed and have a gravel surface.

Most of our informal shared paths run through parklands or open spaces. They are generally used by more pedestrians than bicycle riders for recreation and local trips. 

An informal shared path for bicycles and pedestrians

New technologies: e-Bikes and e-Scooters

The number of people using electric bikes and scooters is growing in Melbourne due to their affordability and convenience. People using e-Bikes and e-Scooters must follow the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017 to keep a safe environment for all road and path users. This includes restrictions related to power output and travel speeds.

E-bikes must have a maximum rated power of 250 watts with power-assistance slowly reducing and cutting off completely at the top speed of 25 km per hour. The rider must also have to pedal to access the battery power. 

E-scooters must have a maximum rated power of 200 watts and can’t travel faster than 10 km per hour. If an e-scooter doesn’t meet these requirements, it can’t currently be used on Victorian public roads or footpaths.

Victoria is currently completing a controlled trial of higher-powered e-scooters available for hire in several local government areas. This includes the City of Melbourne, City of Yarra, City of Port Phillip and City of Ballarat. These e-scooters can reach 20 km per hour and can only be used on bicycle lanes, shared paths and lower speed roads (up to 50 km per hour) within the trial areas only.

Demand on our bicycle network

Bicycle count surveys show that Gardiners Creek Trail is the most popular bicycle route in Boroondara. We recorded the highest count along this trail near the Monash Freeway underpass in Hawthorn. Within a 2-hour morning peak period in 2021, we saw 798 bicycle riders. Main Yarra Trail is the second most popular route, with 419 bicycle riders recorded near Walmer Street in Kew.

Off-road routes are significantly more utilised than on-road routes. In 2021, the average weekday morning peak (7 am to 9 am) count recorded along off-road routes was 271 bicycle riders. The average count recorded along on-road routes was 63 bicycle riders. 

Bicycle riding participation

Bicycle count surveys in 2021 showed that women made up 16% of bicycle riders across Boroondara. This is lower than the Victorian average of 27% female riders and the Australia-wide average of 25% female riders. 

The cycle to work mode share for Boroondara is 1.9%. This is higher than most of the nearby municipalities, as well as the Greater Melbourne average of 1.4%. The City of Yarra is a clear leader at 8.6%. 

Across all trip types starting in Boroondara, including education, shopping and recreation, around 1.4% are on a bicycle. This is compared to 65.9% by private vehicle. The average distance travelled per trip was similar across these mode types. This was 6.4 km for bicycle riders and 7.1 km for private vehicles. 

Lower numbers of bicycle riders cycling on the road doesn't necessarily mean there is a low demand for these routes. This is a result of the unprotected facilities and people's safety concerns. The existing on-road network is currently only suitable for confident or advanced-level cyclists, which are a very small minority of the overall number of bicycle users.

Safety of our bicycle network

In recent years, there has been a general downward trend in the number of reported crashes involving bicycles. From 2015 to 2020, there were a total of 269 casualty crashes involving bicycles reported to the police throughout Boroondara. This included one fatality in 2018 and one in 2020. The number of crashes declined by around 24% over the 6-year period, from 55 in 2015 to 42 in 2020. Around two-thirds of crashes happened at intersections. All crashes were recorded on state-managed or Council-managed roads. 

We rarely receive reports of injury crashes on off-road paths, but there are a number of common risk factors that can affect safety. 

They include:

  • path width
  • lighting
  • surface quality
  • linemarking
  • signage. 

Busy shared paths with pedestrians, dogs and cyclists can also lead to near misses.

Pedestrians and other people who use the path

While off-road paths provide a safer environment for bicycle users, it’s important to think about the safety of pedestrians and other people who use the path. Pedestrians have right-of-way on formal shared paths. Bicycle riders must travel at an appropriate speed and give way to pedestrians. We have found the best way to avoid conflicts on busy shared paths is to provide separate facilities for pedestrians and bicycle riders.