It’s official, Melbourne is becoming a cycling city. Abby runs us through all of the major bike paths in Melbourne and what you can expect from them.
Melbourne – The Cycle City
Thanks to the City of Melbourne and their bicycle plan, new cycling routes, parking spaces, and maintenance stations are cropping up all over town.
Every year more Melburnians are choosing to ride, with the number of cyclists in the city almost doubling since 2008. This is great news for Melbourne and its people, since cycling doesn’t only benefit the rider’s physical health and fitness but also helps the community by reducing carbon emissions and traffic.
Melbourne’s bike trails are made with all levels of skill and fitness in mind. All the routes listed here cleverly avoid steep hills by following rivers, creeks, railway lines and the coast.
Most of these paths also feature wide lanes, making over-taking easy for those on a mission. With the city newly released from lockdown and the weather finally warming up, there’s no time like the present to take advantage of Melbourne’s beautiful bike network.
More of a walker? Read more: 17 Best Day Hikes Near Melbourne
Capital City Trail
Distance: 29 km
Start/end points: Flinders Street Station, but since the trail is a loop there’s no harm in jumping on wherever
The Capital City Trail is the poster child of Melbourne’s bike network. This 27km loop encircles the city, passing by iconic sites including Flinders Street Station, the Melbourne Zoo, and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The trail showcases some of Melbourne’s best streetscapes, parklands, and rivers. Most of the trail follows the former course of the Inner Circle railway line and as a result, features few road crossings or steep hills.
The Bay Trail
Distance: 20km (from Port Melbourne to Half Moon Bay)
Start and end points: The most popular section of the Bay Trail stretches from Port Melbourne to Half Moon Bay
The extremely popular Bay Trail closely follows the coastline from the CBD through the southern suburbs. This trail is mostly flat and features very few road crossings, making it an ideal route for families and casual riders.
Many of Melbourne’s most iconic tourist attractions, including Luna Park and the Brighton Beach Boxes, can be seen from the trail. Winding through intermittent sections of scrub, sand, parks and beach-front cafés, the Bay Trail is rife with temptations, so make sure to allow yourself extra time for sightseeing and snacks.
This trail’s also popular with rollerbladers and dog walkers. Make sure to help these people have a pleasant time by giving them plenty of room when overtaking.
It’s also important to note that the Bay Trail is notorious for strong and unpredictable cross-winds, even on calm days, so ride carefully!
Throw in a line while you’re there! Read more: 7 of the Best Fishing Spots in Melbourne
Main Yarra Trail
Start and end points: The Main Yarra Trail starts at Westerfolds park Templestowe and ends at Southbank
One of Melbourne’s most underrated bike paths, the Main Yarra Trail runs from the eastern suburbs into Port Melbourne and forms part of the Capital City Trail.
This elegantly constructed trail follows the course of the Yarra River and uses many extravagant design solutions, including boardwalks and bridges to avoid road crossings. Highlights of the trail include city views, and its proximity to the Botanical Gardens.
The Main Yarra Trail is popular with joggers and walkers, particularly when close to the city.
Melbourne’s many creek trails provide pleasant access to the city from every direction. These winding paths often run through strips of bushland, allowing the rider to travel into the city through natural environments.
By following creeks and rivers, these paths avoid most roads. Although the creek paths are currently being upgraded, some sections may be narrow, winding and have poor visibility in places, be careful when overtaking!
Rail trails are the main alternative to creek tracks for those wanting to take the trail network into the city. Although most of Melbourne’s railway lines have footpaths, many of them are narrow or poorly maintained.
However, with the city investing billions of dollars into removing level crossings over the next four years, significant improvements to Melbourne’s Rail Trail network are on the horizon. The Djerring trail, which follows the Cranbourne-Packenham line from Dandenong to Caulfield, is an example of what the future has in store.
Melbourne Bike Paths FAQ
Are Melbourne’s bike paths child friendly?
Yes, but all the paths feature significant hazards including road crossings, dogs, and other riders. Children should only ride on busy bike paths if they are confident and aware.
Can I take my bike on public transport?
Bikes can be taken on trains but not trams or buses (including rail replacement buses).
Where can I park my bike?
It’s legal to park your bike anywhere unless it’s obstructing others, breaking any local laws or otherwise signposted. The best place to park is usually at dedicated bike hoops, the City of Melbourne has installed over 2700 of these on streets around town. The city is also building free-to-use ‘Parkiteer’ bike parking cages near train stations.
What do I do if I get a flat tyre?
To avoid unnecessary damage to your tyre and rim, stop riding your bike as soon as you notice your tube is deflating. If you don’t have a pump and patch repair kit (or know someone who does) your best options are to catch the train or walk home or to a bike shop. Alternatively, the City of Melbourne has installed several free ‘bike maintenance stations’ which can be used to pump up your tyre.
When are the best times to ride?
The bike paths can be used at any time, although they do become more dangerous when wet, in high winds and during busy periods. Riders on the bike paths need to always be aware of who’s around them, especially dogs, children and people on rollerblades, roller skates, scooters, and skateboards.
The busiest periods on the paths are usually weekends and public holidays. If you want to avoid the crowds your best option is to go early in the day or during the week.
Where can I hire a bike?
Many bike shops offer half, full or multi-day bike hire. There are also thousands of Lime e-bikes parked around Melbourne which can be hired using the Lime app.