For a city of over 4 million residents, the inner suburbs at any time of day is a gridlock of cars. However, the network of trams criss-crossing the city slows down the traffic enough to actually make it pleasant and safe for cyclists. Just watch out for those slick tramlines on a wet day, they can be very scary.
City bikes, ie NOT mountain bikes, are ideal. Big tyres, mudguards, upright seating position, a carrier with a saddle-bag, it’s all style and functionality rather than speed.
The Yarra River is a natural cycle highway, meandering through the suburbs leading to the CBD. On both sides of the river, this is a means to get away from the traffic and enjoy the gentle flow of the brown water. In the weekends, Port Philip’s cycle-way and roads become a hive of activity as the road cyclists hit the tarmac en-mass to take over the coastal path.
There are several popular city rides, but none more scenic and enjoyable than the Capital City Trail, approximately 29 kms of almost totally dedicated cycle-lanes circumnavigating the city. The route includes the Yarra River from the CBD, Abbotsford, Richmond, Collingwood, Clifton Hill, then leaving the river through Fitzroy North to the Melbourne Zoo, Royal Park before heading back to the city to Docklands. The route can be ridden either direction, with plenty of spots for refreshments along the way (as noted in my cafe blogs in this site).
Interestingly, and frustratingly, it was impossible to obtain a comprehensive cycle map of Melbourne. Without a doubt, if you can, take your bike to Melbourne and really enjoy the city at its best. We took our single speed bikes, which gave us speed, simplicity and comfort.
I highly recommend the local book “The Casual Cyclist’s Guide” by Matthew Hurst. It can be bought at any bookshop in Melbourne for about $20. Very good read, with some of the more common cycle routes. It’s not aimed at cycle nuts but for those of us who want to get off the conveyor belt, slow down and enjoy the “ride”.
Crumpler bags are the best, waterproof and the courier bags are comfortable and have a stabiliser strap to stop the bag flipping under your belly whilst riding. I have the Barney Rustle Blanket (basic courier bag) and the Moderate Embarrasment (which is a laptop bag for 13″). The former is more functional as a cycle courier bag. The latter is less so, but service-able, with a padded sleeve for the laptop or camera.
Check out the links to maps and resources I used here.