A major challenge our cities face is how to mobilise an increasing urban population. Now more than ever, people are scrutinising their means of mobility, where they go, why, how, and the impact it has on their lives.
Healthy, sustainable and convenient, cycling is more than just beneficial to riders, embracing it as a core mode of transport in the design of urban areas has wide ranging benefits for neighbourhoods and communities alike.
In dense parts of our cities, journeys under 5km made by bike are usually faster than driving (Australian Bicycle Council and Austroads 2001). When you consider just under half of all car trips in metropolitan areas are less that 3km, there’s an obvious opportunity to encourage more people to adopt cycling.
There are also plenty of places not serviced by public transport that become more accessible when cycling is an option. Currently over half of people living in the outer suburbs can’t walk to public transport (Infrastructure Australia 2018).
Not everyone has the same access to mobility, so the more options available, the more accessible a city becomes.
When accessed through cycling, key facilities such as schools, district recreation facilities or public transport nodes can serve a more spread out population, without increasing demand on other transport and road infrastructure.
Cycling changes patterns of movement in how people get from place to place, between home, work and play. By adding cycling networks to our cities, we increase permeability, opening up more places for more people. As a result, urban areas become more vibrant, better connected, and enlivened, which is good for a sense of community, as well as generating footfall for local businesses and contributing to greater real estate value for property owners.
Cycling promotes activation of places at street level. By reducing the anonymity of transport, and giving commuters a human face and form on par with pedestrians, cities develop a much more human scale.
The autonomy of movement and ability to ‘get a park’ wherever you want is key to the flexibility that cycling provides. This encourages a diversity and fine grain urban activation, not reliant on cars or the larger scale transport node activity hubs.
When cycle infrastructure works well, cyclists are taken from fighting for a place in the streetscape to secure access, to having the opportunity to be embrace public life as part of their journey.
“There is no chicken or egg. There is only infrastructure”.
Mikael Colville-Andersen: Bicycle Urbanist.
Delivering an integrated network of cycleways and cycle friendly streets is key to achieving positive urban outcomes for our cities. The City of Sydney has an established strategy of Liveable Green Networks, which link walking and cycling with village centres, major transport hubs, cultural precincts, parks and open spaces. Through this lens, our urban villages and mobility networks can be planned as an integrated system.