Getting Around Cities

By Sue Brunskill, Teacher, National Environment Centre, and member of Wooragee Landcare

I have just had a weekend in Melbourne and my friend and I hired a bike- $45 each for two days hire including helmet and bike chain. We left from the city and rode out to Williamstown on great bike paths along the river, through parks, around Melbourne port which is all being revamped, often right beside the water with lovely landscaping.  We discovered Westgate Park– “bush” landscaping where you hear blue wrens and other birds. There is a bike punt ($7 return) that crossed under the Westgate bridge that doesn’t run to a timetable – it just goes back and forth all day on the weekend when there is a rider waiting to cross. We came back via Docklands and Yarra – rode home to Richmond mostly on the track along the river.

The second day we rode along the Yarra River to Abbotsford convent, had lunch, then home along Nicholson St and Lennox St. These two streets have a dedicated bike lane and I felt very safe. This area of Melbourne has very few hills so it’s very gentle riding and as Melbourne is doing some great work for cycling its very cycle friendly place.

So the things I like about discovery via cycling over cars if the area is suitable and the weather good: you can get further than by walking; if you are discovering a new place via car you can get lost and stuck on a freeway for kilometres not being able to get off; you don’t have to pay for car parking; if you get in a tight situation you just pick up the bike and get onto the footpath. You are getting some exercise and you won’t be regretting the food and wine that you often indulge in when you go on holiday. You can really get to know the character of an area much more so than in a car, and the occasional getting lost means you discover great places that aren’t on the tourist maps.

We have the free bikes in Melbourne too. You pay a daily rate of $3, and then if you use the bike for less than 30 minutes then it’s free. There are lots of stations in the city. While I have been to Melbourne many times, I felt I discovered much more of Melbourne this time by riding around.