City of Sydney, Australia Builds Separate Bike Lane, Bike Usage Explodes by 82%

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The city of Sydney, Australia recently constructed a separate lane for bicycle riders, which enables them to avoid the dangers of automobiles. Following the roadway addition (and some other measures), bike ridership skyrocketed by an impressive 82%.

Results from a new Sydney study showed that people are much more likely to ride bikes if they have separate lanes and don’t have to worry about being hit by automobiles or other people’s doors.

The Australian government is in the process of implementing its 2030 blueprint for a greener city. So far, as part of that, it has implemented a lot more bike lanes — 200 km (125 miles) worth. This approach is very different from that of the United States federal government, which, rather than building infrastructure, is mostly trying to green its transportation by setting minimum fuel efficiency standards for automobiles.

The Australian government surely realizes that bikes are very important to reducing its carbon dioxide and air pollution footprint, since bicycles emit nothing, require minor and low-cost maintenance compared to automobiles, and require no fuel. They are actually the most efficient main mode of transportation.

To top it off, bicycles are made with less material than automobiles. Automobiles require roughly 3,000 pounds of mostly finite materials such as steel, aluminium, copper, plastic, iridium, platinum, and many more materials (for their control electronics too). I’m sure bicycles require a small fraction of that.

So, from a material sustainability point of view, bicycles are also important.

Sydney’s government is also spearheading a program that increases ridership among its citizens in other ways — it wants 10% of the metropolis riding bikes by 2030. It is now in the process of building 55 km of bike lanes as part of that effort. Additionally, it has “decreased speed limits and extensive junction redesigns which give cyclists priority and improve visibility,” the Guardian notes.



One important element in the promotion of public transportation and bicycle reliance is safety. Public transportation vehicles such as buses and trains need to be adequately guarded and safe enough to give users peace of mind and keep them and their property secure.

Similarly, bicyclists should not have to ride among much larger automobiles, which often speed carelessly about. It is great to see Sydney addressing this core issue.

Source: TreeHugger
Photo Credit: Sydney colored bike lane by Sydney Tweed Ride

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Nicholas Brown

Has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

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18 thoughts on “City of Sydney, Australia Builds Separate Bike Lane, Bike Usage Explodes by 82%

  • Only ushbike fanatics believe they are the “most efficient main mode of transportation” From an energy efficiency stand point they aren’t very efficient at all. 
    Consider: up-right push bikes have no body work so are not very aero-efficient. They don’t regenerate energy. They can practically only travel less than 10 kms powered by a 1/16th HP human on board. They don’t carry loads and in wet weather, they become unusable! A Velo cycle with a small electric motor puts a standard pushbike to shame!In all seriousness you can’t just claim standard pushbikes avoid carbon emissions because they don’t use fossil generated energy. The human powering the device still burns fuel so that needs to be included in total energy use calculation.The low speed, limited range and only fair weather use limitations mean push bikes are NOT the “most efficient main mode of transportation” overall. 

    • So –  now there are 82 people riding bikes to the cbd on a working day? Whatever the number I have no doubt that most of those riding bikes to work caught (and still catch when it suits them) public transport to work. No energy saving there just more vehicles of a different type on the roads.  

      • if they are only occasionally jumping on a bus instead, my bet is that the bus isn’t going to run any more frequently. but with a large number of people leaving the bus for the bike for most trips, it’s very viable that the frequency will drop.

        of course, a bike instead of a car results in much lower emissions and the use of much less road space.

    • That just sounds grumpy.

      • Ross – boo hoo

    • I will explain the eficiency of Bicycles: Bicycles have a Mechanical advantage over walking. Each turn of the pedals creates up to Five (5) turns of the rear wheel by means of the gears and chain.
      I dispute your claim of the bicyclist only having 1/16th horsepower. Most Cyclists could sustain 1/4 horsepower, or at least 3/16th HP, even for a woman. Professional Cyclists can generate one full horsepower for more than four minutes (sprinting).
      And this Austrailian usage of the word “Pushbike” I believe to be incorrect. A Bicycle is called a Bicycle. A Push-Bike is like a Push-Cart, and the Bicycle needs to have a Crate , Platform, or Bin on the front in order to qualify as a Push-Bike.

      • Typo, I meant 1/6th HP! Lance Armstrong might generate 1/4 HP continuously, for everyone else its peak power. And don’t go correcting my language, the entire nation of Australia refers to them as ‘push-bikes’ ! You call them what ever you want!

    • i’m sorry, but what?

      i’ve seen numerous studies on the efficiency of diff modes of transport. they all put bikes at or near the top. they all take into acct the “fuel costs” of humans needing more food to use their muscles to move the bike. the fact of the matter is, bikes require vey little effort to move you fwd relatively fast.

      loads? you’ve never been to the NL. or many other bike-friendly places. i;ve seen them carrying couches, huge machines or other vehicles, loads of kids, and more. probably not as efficient 😉 but get a person exercise they need anyway to be healthy.

      anyway, don’t think you are going to take all that in willingly, so i want add on more.

      • Don’t believe every study you read, they’re usually published by someone trying to promote their own interests! I’ll give you some empirical data instead!

        Sydney Australia is not the Netherlands! It’s a harbour city with low population density that covers  2,000+ sq. km that includes 300 suburbs in mostly extremely hilly terrain with a fairly poor (in big city terms) public transport system. Unless you are travelling to the next suburb (i.e. single digit kms) in bright sunshine (and even then you’re going have to tackle some large hills in at least one direction) push-bikes are mostly impracticable as an adult &/or commuter form of transport in this city.Making the argument for push-bikes is comparable to being pro horse drawn carts! Just because they’re extremely low-power/low-speed does not automatically mean they are energy efficient. Generating horsepower requires kilojoule input no matter what the method of converting it to motion. There are no free lunches! You wouldn’t call a horse drawn cart aerodynamically efficient would you? And you wouldn’t describe it as TIME efficient either! I used to race push-bikes semi-professionally (when I was a kid) so I’ve done more than my fair share of riding bikes around Sydney, but they are not even close to being the ultimate transport solution. Push-bikes are for kids (inc Uni Students) &/or recreation at best!

        • everywhere i’ve lived, i’ve heard people say bicycling is impractical. everywhere i’ve lived, i’ve found that to be untrue.

          the fact of the matter is: humans need to exercise to be healthy. so counting the energy used to ride a bike is really not the same as counting the energy used to run a car. we very much do not need to drive cars to be healthy. 😀

          the fact that people drive 30 minutes to a gym to exercise rather than bicycling for transportation bewilders me.

          i don’t trust every study i read, but when every study on a subject shows the same thing, it might be time to start paying attention. 😀

          • The comment I picked out was your claim ”  most efficient main mode of transportation.” now you’re talking about exercise.  I’d have to conclude you’re agreeing with me! Push bikes are for recreation (I prefer mountain biking myself) not daily urban transportation, unless you’re a Chines peasant and can’t afford a car! 

            The distances that need to be covered in an average day’s driving around a major metropolitan area are IMPOSSIBLE to cover on a push bike in the same time period! If some study tells you that taking a week to cover the same distance covered in a day by car is “efficient” I’d say that’s make believe! We’re not talking about getting around a city centre, we’re talking about doing real business in a large metropolitan area. 

            You want to talk about the most energy efficient vehicles then talk about solar race cars. If you want to talk about a more practical version then look at plug-in EVs powered by roof-top solar panels. 

            If push bikes were even close to being a SATISFACTORY mode of transport…. then no-one would buy cars would they?? End of story!

          • I’m still sold on bikes being most efficient. I was just trying to meet you halfway. 😀

            The link on that text is actually to a short post/infographic on that.
            “25 percent of all trips are made within a mile of the home, 40 percent of all trips are within two miles of the home, and 50 percent of the working population commutes five miles or less to work. Yet more than 82 percent of trips five miles or less are made by personal motor vehicle.” (US) — VERY bike-able distances.

            EVs + Solar — yes, i’d assume that is more efficient. will go with you on that one. the studies i’ve seen on such topics didn’t include this option.
            last line: not at all true. we are no rational beings. no debate about that. and the car industry puts out the most commercials of any industry last i checked. cars are not sold on practicality — they are sold on emotions and advertising.

  • It is very promising to see large cities taking this on.  Sydney’s success will surely inspire similar projects.  Americans do love their cars but I’d bet many would happily bike if it was made safer and more convenient.

    Light cycling burns about 25 calories per Km.  So for a 10 km round trip you’d burn 250 calories.  Changing nothing else about their habits, the rider would drop a lb for every three weeks they road to work; something many of us could use.  

    @tsport100:disqus Every time you convert energy from one form to another, your efficiency decreases.  Assuming you eat like the rest of us and have two working legs,  human power will be more energy and cost efficient than an electric motor and battery system.  I’m not too familiar with electric cycles but they do seem ideal for people with long, hilly journeys or those with leg issues.  
    With regard to rain: there are plenty of professionals who commute year round in the soggy Pacific Northwest.  So-called freight bikes can haul plenty of cargo.  One concern I’d have about motorized cycles sharing bike lanes with their human powered counterparts is speed.  Many local and state governments regulate electric bicycles along similar lines as mopeds for this reason.  Limiting the power source to your legs is good for health, mechanical simplicity and most importantly, safety. 

  • Next step, electrifying the bicycles.  Then allowing electric motorcycles and electric bicycles to share the bikeways.

  • Yesterday I ate breakfast and rode 40 kms before I stopped for lunch.  Today I ate breakfast and picked up my car and only made it to the end of the drive way before I collapsed.  From this I conclude that cycling is 20,000 times more efficient that taking a car.  (40 kilometres divided by 2m.)

  • …and its a great way to stay in shape!

  • Pingback: Study Finds Bicycle Infrastructure Reduces Risk of Cycling Injuries | BikocityBikocity

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