Cycling is a great way to get around, get some exercise, and see the beauty Victoria has to offer. Whether you're commuting to work or enjoying one of Victoria's spectacular rail trails, cycling is convenient, affordable and good for you and the environment. Cycling is a sustainable form of transport, fuelled by renewable or regenerated energy – leg power – rather than finite natural resources.
Benefits of cycling
People who cycle are more active than those who don't, reducing their risk of a range of diseases, from diabetes to depression. Increased cardiovascular fitness, strength and flexibility, joint mobility, and improved posture and coordination are just some of the benefits of cycling. Cyclists are also less likely to suffer from insomnia and to have better concentration.
Cycling reduces greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change and therefore improves air quality. Cycling also reduces our reliance on precious natural resources to build and fuel cars, and the land we use for road infrastructure and car parks.
More bicycles on the road means fewer cars on the road, reducing congestion and pressure on our road infrastructure.
No parking fees or costs associated with car ownership – such as registration, insurance and petrol – or public transport fares. Cycling is one of the most inexpensive ways to travel.
Cycling is generally three times as fast as walking, for the same amount of energy, and will usually get you around city centres faster than driving.
Cycling safely is about more than wearing a helmet. VicRoads provides detailed information about helmets, safely sharing the road, cycling rules, insurance and maintaining your bike, together with general safety advice and guidelines.
Types of bicycles
If you are keen to start cycling but don't own a bike, talk to friends and family: many people have a bicycle in their garage that hasn't been used in years and they might be happy to part with it for little or no money. If you already have a bike but it needs some love, CERES will help you fix it. If you have a bike you no longer need, several charitable and not-for-profit bike recyclers accept donations.
When buying a bike, do your research to ensure that the style, frame, gears, wheels and tyres are right for you. Try to buy a second-hand bike if possible, to save energy, natural resources and money.
Folding bikes are particularly useful when you want to combine public transport and cycling, when you don’t have much storage space at your work or home, and when you like to take your bike with you when you travel further afield. Folding bikes, which tend to be more expensive than standard bikes, come in a range of styles including e-bikes.
Electric bicycles (e-bikes)
Electric bicycles are power-assisted bicycles – pedal powered bicycles that also have a backup motor or power supply, generally a rechargeable lithium ion battery system. E-bikes are limited to 25km per hour and are rated at 250 watts or less.
Pedelecs are a form of e-bike where the rider must pedal to make the electric motor function. Power-assisted bicycles can be useful for older or less able bodied riders who need assistance when cycling uphill or against the wind, or for people who live in hilly areas. Power-assisted bicycles must adhere to the same road rules as standard bicycles, and they do not need to be registered or licensed.
Cycling with children will help them to develop hand-eye coordination and introduce them to a healthy habit for their lives ahead. Do your research when buying for a child to ensure the bicycle is safe. The bike needs to be the right size, for example, and have two braking systems, a chain guard, tread on both sides of the pedal and secure handgrips.
Melbourne Bike Share is a public bike sharing program in the City of Melbourne and City of Port Phillip that consists of 51 stations, 900 bike docks and more than 600 bikes. The scheme, one of more than 500 around the world, makes bicycles available for use as another form of public transport, either to commute to work or for tourism and leisure purposes. Use of the bikes is based on a daily, weekly or yearly subscription, or they can be rented for as little as a few hours. Helmets are provided free of charge on some bikes, or can be purchased inexpensively near docking stations.
Plan your cycle
Various websites and online maps allow you to plan your bicycle journey online. Enter your starting point and destination to find your route, or click and drag to see the distance you will travel and how long it will take you.
Top 5 tips for getting on your bike
1. Cycle to public transport
Cycling to and from public transport is a great way to incorporate physical activity into your routine, and take the hassle and expense out of finding a park. External bike racks have been installed on four bus routes, and bikes can be taken on metropolitan and V/Line trains at no extra cost.
2. Cycle to the gym
Isn't it a little silly to drive to the gym to get some exercise? Why not cycle instead, getting cardiovascular exercise on the way? Cycle to work regularly and you might be able to drop the gym membership entirely, saving time and money.
3. Cycle to work
Cycling to work – at least on some days – allows you to avoid peak hour and incorporate exercise into your commute. Many workplaces now encourage staff to cycle to work, by offering changing rooms with showers, lockers and secure bicycle lock-ups. If your work is far from where you live, consider cycling in every second day, or to work one day then home the next.
4. Cycle to school
Ditch the car and cycle your kids to school instead. Cycling will help your children develop hand-eye coordination and establish a good habit for their lives ahead. Even babies and toddlers can travel by bicycle, in bike seats and trailers. With some studies suggesting childhood obesity is being fuelled by children being driven to school, cycling is a simple, fun way to keep you and your kids fit.
5. Explore Victoria
Victoria has magnificent scenery and wildlife, and cycling is a wonderful way to see it. Cycle with friends, take the kids, or even go on a cycling holiday – Victoria has the most developed rail trails of Australia's states. Combine cycling and camping for a fun, healthy, inexpensive and sustainable family holiday.