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Is Sydney bike-friendly? A Melbournian wants to know...

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by zenali, Oct 12, 2009.

  1. I was in Sydney over the weekend and, despite a couple of business trips to our offices out near the airport, I'd never actually been into the CBD before. My other half and I spent two days walking around and doing the usual tourist things. One thing that I noticed was that there didn't seem to be as many motorbikes on the road as I would see on any given day in Melbourne.

    I know that we are lucky in Melbourne because we are allowed to park on the footpath. This makes a bike the perfect way to get around in the CBD - not only can you slip in and out of the traffic more easily than you would in a car, you never have to look very far to find a place to park. I gather that in Sydney this is not allowed (though I saw a couple of bikes parked on the footpath here and there). I've read threads on this forum that claim the reason for this is that Melbourne has very wide footpaths and Sydney has much narrower footpaths. It is true that there are a few streets in Melbourne that have very wide footpaths, but these are the exception rather than the rule. In two and a half days of strolling around I would have to say that most of the footpaths I walked along were of comparable width to the footpaths in Melbourne - and there was easily space for bikes to park without obstructing the foot traffic.

    The other thing I noticed was the maze of one-way streets. Melbourne was laid out on a grid, with two major roads sometimes having a laneway running parallel between them. These laneways are usually one-way, but the major roads are all two-way. Obviously it is too late for Sydney to do much about that, but I would be interested to know how the riders in Sydney feel about the challenges of navigating in the city.

    I'd be very keen to hear whether anybody else gets the impression that there are just fewer bikes on the road in Sydney? (It also counts for cyclists, by the way. I didn't see many of those either.)

    (Oh, and if I was a Sydney rider I'd be lobbying hard for footpath parking. It really is a godsend. I know that there is a trial for free parking areas, but seriously - footpath parking is the way to go.)
  2. There are a shitload of bikes in the sydney cbd, but they're all parked away until rushhour (except for the couriers). Besides george st, you'll see a huge mass of bikes parked 2cms away from each other every so often.

    Yes Sydney CBD sucks... takes a while to get the hang of it. Really easy to travel 5 blocks just trying to go round the block. Lots of people just avoid it. My solution is to plan my route on google maps first.
  3. Sydney is not friendly to any powered vehicle. It was laid out by halfwits.
  4. Think Sydney's bad? It is, but then try Auckland. No matter what you do, you'll end up going in the opposite direction to where you want to go. Or on a motorway on ramp.

  5. oh how true.
    no where near as many bikes in Syd and i would think its due the bike culture being larger down Mlb.
    syd is ok to get around as long as you have a full tank and there is plenty of walls to hit your head against
  6. The Sydney CBD is a shocker for any vehicle, but especially bikes. As part of passing their taxi-driving test, Sydney taxi drivers take a vow to attempt to take out as many motorbikes as they can, and they are pretty diligent in their attempts. They jump out in front of you constantly. I end up having to slap myself just to make sure I still exist - 2 minutes of this behaviour and you would swear you are invisible.

    This is mirrored by car drivers who are all intent on getting where they want to as fast as they can with little if any regard for anything that might be in front or beside them. Most of the arterial roads in and out of the city are a nightmare as well.

    Take a bus or stay in Melbourne. (and I don't mean you're not welcome here - it just makes more sense!)

  7. I try not to drive in Sydney CBD, so would probably not contemplate riding the bike there! But that's just my personal choice. Plenty of bikes elsewhere in and around the Sydney area.
  8. So it wasn't just my imagination - that is good to know!

    What about the other way around... do Sydneysiders come to Melbourne and get a shock at seeing all the motorbikes everywhere and the bicycle lanes through the whole CBD and inner suburbs?

    I've always enjoyed Melbourne as a place to live and work, but I only had foreign cities to compare it to. I'd be interested to know what Sydney folks think when they come to Melbourne and walk down Elizabeth Street past all the bikes.
  9. Sydney's a prick for any vehicle unless after midnight on a weeknight.

    Rather be on a bike than anything else, though.
  10. I really liked how Melbourne was planned.
    Footpath parking is awesome.
    The lanes are so much wider than Sydney ones! Lane splitting is easy :eek:

    But the weather sucked.
  11. Yeah... Sydney has a climate, Melbourne has weather. :)

    That being said, it was cold and blustery for my one weekend in Sydney, with the occasional downpour. (And from what I hear Melbourne was having a lovely weekend.)
  12. I prefer taking the bike into the Sydney CBD to taking the car into the CBD. Neither is truly enjoyable, but the motorcycle is a whole magnitude less painful.

    Four reasons:
    * Dedicated motorcycle parking areas scattered around, for free.
    * Can park in timed car spaces for free.
    * Bus lanes = motorcycle lanes; the red carpet treatment all over Sydney :)
    * Filtering (though many roads are too narrow to do it comfortably) and using the unused half-lane left over by parked cars.

    Mind you, I got my L's and restricted license while living in Melbourne.

    I miss Melbourne's free urban tollroads, urban expressway system and painless footpath parking and - I think - stronger motorcycle culture. I think I found it easier to filter through CBD traffic in Melbourne too, but I was on a narrow VTR250 back then, not a inline-triple 1050cc. I think Melbourne's roads were usually wider.

    I don't miss the tramlines.

    I disagree that the footpaths of Sydney can accomodate parked motorcycles. Anywhere around the CBD core or Chinatown on the weekends, the footpaths are shoulder-to-shoulder packed with people, right to the edge of the road. No street furniture to make a 'gap' for bikes to park in either. Maybe some footpaths can do it, but it's nowhere near as extensively parking-friendly as Melbourne.
  13. You really need to know the Sydney CBD inside and out in order to get around it comfortably, otherwise it's a mess.

    Whenever I go to Melb the CBD is just refreshing.
  14. Sydney taxi drivers take a vow to take out anything that isn't a taxi, although the Melbourne taxi driver that decided to take on a train this morning has clearly upped the ante.

    The most horrific experience of my life involved a taxi in Sydney, where - I kid you not - the driver spent almost the entire trip from Neutral Bay into the city with his head swivelled around having a conversation with me. I think he was only alerted to what was happening in front of his taxi by the varying looks of terror on my face, depending on whether we were about to be crushed by a bus or about to crush a pedestrian. I was shaking when I finally got out.
  15. Now that is something to be happy about. I'll have to look into the stats to see whether there have been any accidents between buses and bikes in Sydney so that I can join the agitation for bikes in bus lanes here.

    Didn't see the wall to wall pedestrians though. I spent most of the weekend on foot in the CBD and actually took photos of how eerily empty the streets were. Cafes were closed at lunchtime on a Saturday. It felt like I was on the set of a zombie movie... you know where you see hardly any people on the streets? (Circular Quay and Darling Harbour were the obvious exceptions.)

    Maybe it was just the bad weather that kept them away. The only other people we saw were tourists.
  16. i am in the CBD everyday and surrounding suburbs so i think i can say it is getting better.

    we can use bus lanes ( not bus only lanes ) which melburnians cant. there are a shitload of these now so you are straight at the front mostly without splitting.
    parking is free in any green spot for the designated time limit. no footpath parking :(
    tolls the same as cars except for a qtrly harbour bridge pass which means unlimited crossings so you can really get value for money if you cross our fantastic harbour bridge. ( $4 at peak hour or $95 a qtr....I go over sometimes 6 times a week so it saves )

    it's getting better with more dedicated parking for bikes but has a long way to go. our Lord Mayor Clover Moore consulted motorcyclists and scooters ( which have taken off hugely ) to make it more bike friendly.

    much like melbourne is different to sydney, so is biking. ( we have some tolerance for speeding, nah-nah, you dont! )
  17. You didn't notice many bikes or pedestrians because, as you said, you were in the CBD on the weekend, it's almost like a ghost town then.

    The CBD on the weekend is mainly tourist people, try visiting on mon / fri and you will notice a difference....
  18. I don't think Sydney was laid out by anyone. I think it somehow just sort of happened!

    When I have been in Sydney, I have also commented on the lesser number of bikes generally on the road than I find riding in Melbourne.

  19. Bus lanes also = Taxi lanes. Taxis tend to stop. Suddenly. Most tend to neglect the maintenance on their tail lights, as I found out the hard way the other day. Now that was a good lead up to my MOST obstacle avoidance test 0_0.

    Other than that, it makes it a helluva lot easier to get around.

    Also, I wouldn't park my bike on the footpath in Sydney. It would get trampled.
  20. This is true, though I find that sort of wild behaviour's not limited to just the bus lanes. D: