Sydney has a new plan for spending millions of dollars on new bike lanes and infrastructure, and it has met predictable opposition from motorists and radio shock jocks. The usual arguments fly round: “This is not the solution to Sydney’s traffic congestion” (No it’s not, but it’s part of the solution; every car off the road helps a bit), “It takes away parking spaces” (Very few, and every bike means one less car needing parking’), “Sydney is too big, hot and hilly – we’re not Amsterdam” (No, and Amsterdam is cold, wet and crowded, so bikes could never work there)…
I ride the bike every day when living in Amsterdam, for commuting and for fun. So I tried to imagine whether cycling in Sydney could ever take off as a tourist activity. There are a couple of companies offering guided small group cycling tours. I haven’t road-tested them, so I can’t recommend (or condemn) them, but could Sydney ever offset expenditure on its cycling infrastructure by attracting more cycling tourists?
I tested a route from inner west Petersham, into the city centre, then across the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, to see what Sydney had to offer. I was pleasantly surprised.
Here’s the route in pictures…
This is not a route for getting up great speed, and there are often frustrating waits at intersections where the cycle path stops and you share a footpath with pedestrians. However it is generally very safe, and certainly spectacular. More tourists should try it!
At Milson’s Point I met a couple of Sydney riders who had taken a week’s holiday just to go bike riding in their own city. ‘The bikes have been gathering dust in the shed,’ they told me, ‘and this is a cheap holiday.’ And how has it been? I asked. ‘Best holiday we’ve had in ages!’ was their verdict.
It was about a 26.68km round trip, including a few false turns and a bit of backtracking as I searched for photo opportunites. To see my route in detail, click here.