I have certainly been spoilt by living right by the Yarra bike trail: I can ride into the city anytime, in complete safety and comfort (apart from the odd renegade lycra-cycla or kamikaze duck). However, I think this lucky state of affairs has left my road cycling skills somewhat lacking.
On the weekend, I had to cycle from Williamstown to North Melbourne, along some very busy stretches of road. Man, it was scary. Most of the time I was pedaling like mad on my big ol' Pashley, fingers mentally crossed and breath held as a truck/motobike/car seared past me. Every time I got onto the footpath after such an encounter, I would release my breath and say a little prayer of thanks.
It got me thinking, why don't we have more bike paths around Melbourne? Not just a laneway painted on the side of the road which might, for instance, COME TO AN ABRUPT END HALFWAY ACROSS A BRIDGE WITH NO FOOTPATH (hello Maribyrnong city council), but proper cyclist/pedestrian only paths that are separate from the road? It would certainly go some way to encouraging timid or new cyclists to take more journeys by bike, which has multiple benefits for everyone involved, as well as society in general.
Less congestion. Less pollution. More space. More freedom. Better health. Less expense. More enjoyment!
The cynic in me thinks that politicians aren't interested in supporting cycling infrastructure as it doesn't provide any source of revenue. If only they saw that investment in the quality of our collective environment and lifestyle will have it's own many knock-on benefits.
Lately I've been getting more involved with the Melbourne cycling community, which is made up of various interesting people from all walks of life; families, sporty types, alternative thinkers, hipsters. I'm proud to be associated with The Squeaky Wheel, a fantastic volunteer group that's all about promoting cycle culture in Melbourne. Next weekend we start the My Bike program, where we'll be working with migrant communities to pair up young people with bikes donated by the Victorian Police.
One of the things we'll be doing is teaching them about road safety. I could brush up on this, myself.
I can't wait!