Lane love pays off

Fremantle council’s love of bike lanes appears to be paying off.

The city has bucked a national decline in bike use over the past two years, at the same time rolling out bike lanes and racks throughout the CBD: “Our bike numbers are already twice the state average, and we’ve seen probably another 50 per cent growth in that in the past two years,” Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt told the Herald.

The council installed bike counters around the city while increasing its spending, by hundreds of thousands of dollars, on lanes and other infrastructure.

A survey by Austroads and the Australian Bicycle Council found that cycling participation in Perth had dropped more than three per cent between 2011 and 2013. Weekend riders were the main culprits for putting the skids on their exercise, with only 13.2 per cent of sandgropers taking a recreational ride in the last year, compared to 16.8 per cent two years ago.

The number riding to work stayed much the same. While Dr Pettitt says the local figures are “encouraging” there’s a long way to go before Freo is classed a true biking city.

“One of the big lessons I’ve had as mayor is that any transformation of a city, be it to a bike-friendly city or recreating retail or recreating a vibrant core, is that it’s always a 20-year project,” he says, noting Amsterdam took 30 years to earn its reputation as the world’s cycling capital.


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