Mosman has a reputation for hills and traffic – not the ideal combination for cycling, you would think!
But how wrong you would be. Much of Mosman is flat plateau and the old tram routes provide gently sloping access from the plateau to the foreshores. Traffic is not a problem if you stick to roads that form part of the Mosman Bike Network. This is a connected network of streets that can get you from where you live to where you want to go safely and with minimum stress, even if you are a novice cyclist. You can download a map of the Mosman Bicycle Network here
Read on to find out what you can expect, cycling on the Mosman Bicycle Network
Our aim in creating the network was to identify streets that were innately cyclist friendly – flat, safe, quiet and scenic – and link them into a network that would provide access to key destinations such as shops, schools, sporting facilities and of course, the foreshores. Where the network needed to include roads that were not innately cyclist friendly, we have used line markings and other strategies to make them so.
All streets that form part of the network have bicycle symbols marked on the pavement at the beginning and. end of each section, and sometimes as ‘reminders’ mid-section. These symbols signal to drivers that they are on a street where bicycles can be expected, that they should look out for them and not get frustrated if they are stuck behind them – after all, it was their choice to ride on a road where cyclists were encouraged when other routes could have been taken.
Conversely, the absence of bicycle symbols conveys to drivers and cyclists alike that cyclists are not encouraged to ride on this road (even though they have every right to do so). Cyclists who do ride on such roads have a courtesy obligation not to hold up traffic. Beyond the strict legal position (which regards cyclists and motorists as equally legitimate on all roads), a nice way to think of it is that on roads with bicycle symbols, bicycles are ‘normal’ but cars are also welcome to the extent that their use does not compromise the safety or amenity of cyclists. In other words cars should behave as guests. On roads without symbols cars are ‘normal’ but cyclists are welcome so long as they don’t distract drivers or trigger stress due to their slowness invisibility or unpredictability.
If some countries if a vehicle/cyclist collision occurs the driver of the vehicle is always assumed to be at fault. This is not the case in Australia but implicitly the level of cyclist awareness and vigilance expected of drivers on roads with bicycle symbols is higher than on roads without.
The Mosman Bicycle Network stays clear of heavily trafficked roads such as Military and Spit Rd. Cyclists should avoid these roads other than at times of light traffic, or times when the kerbside lane has intermittent parking, unless they can keep up to speed with the traffic.
Continuity, Way finding and Reassurance
Whenever an intersection is coming up (and consequently there is uncertainty about where next to continue on the Bicycle Network), arrows are associated with the bicycle symbols. Left, Right, Straight ahead or any combination.
Once through the intersection a further, arrow-less, symbol reassures the rider that they are still on the Network.
At present there is very limited finger board way finding signage for cyclists. Best to look at the map of the network before setting out.
Parking boundary lines
Bicycle symbols have (mostly) been placed where it is safest to ride. The two biggest risks to cyclists are parked cars opening doors into their path (dooring) and being overtaken with too little clearance, even though legally vehicles must leave at least 1m clearance (and are permitted to cross an unbroken centre line to do so). On some streets with concrete median strips and narrow traffic lanes, symbols are placed mid lane – signifying that cyclists should ‘capture the lane’ by riding mid lane even though this will hold up following vehicles. Examples are Moruben Rd near Punch St and Prince Albert St beyond Queen St, In standard 12,8 m width streets (such as Belmont Rd and Middle Head Rd) the traffic lanes are wide enough for vehicles to overtake cyclists riding on the left hand side of the traffic lane. Bicycle symbols in these streets are placed 1.4 m from the parking boundary line – far enough to avoid dooring but also minimizing the risk from sideswiping. .
High speed vehicles and low speed cyclists grinding their way up hills are not a good mix. For this reason when the bicycle network has to include a climb in order to preserve continuity, an up-hill bike lane has been created, using space released by moving the centre line over. Not just cyclists benefit, as on the uphill side vehicles get a lane clear of bikes. On the downhill side bikes can ‘capture the lane’ without inconveniencing drivers as they can move at the same speed as the traffic.. Examples of uphill bike lanes are Bradley’s Head Rd, Canrobert St, Raglan St, Stanton Rd, Upper Almora St and Avenue Rd. At the top of the hill there is a smooth transition into the main traffic lane. Where a bike lane exists you are legally obliged to use it.
Cyclists know that they need to be particularly alert at Tee intersections. Drivers emerging from the side street are often focussed on gaps between cars and fail to notice cyclists. Both left turning and right turning vehicles are a hazard. There is no substitute for defensive riding – that is anticipating that you might not be seen, but the risk can be minimised if drivers are reminded that cyclists may be present. On the Mosman Bicycle Network this reminder takes the form of green mini- bike lanes across the intersection. Vulnerable intersections have been treated in this way in Middle Head Rd, Prince Albert St and Raglan St. Others will follow.
Contra flow lanes
One way to minimise traffic on the links of any bicycle network is to allow cyclists access through dead ends and to allow contra flow travel in one way streets. Examples of this on the Mosman Bicycle Network are the dead end through passage between Wudong Ln and Wudong St and between Killarney St and Wyong Rd and the contra flow lanes in Melaleuca and Ritchie Lanes. The latter are placed on the ‘wrong’ side of the road – this was done to maximise the advanced warning drivers would have of the presence of cyclists. The plan is to use green marking on these lanes to further alert traffic. The Hordern Lane bicycle contra-flow is through a shared space so there are no specific markings. The speed limit for all vehicles in a shared space such as Hordern Lane is 10km/h.
Entry point treatments
Where cyclists need to enter traffic on a street, either from a shared path or a side street there is a risk of being cut off by cars coming up from behind the cyclist (and making the same turn). On the Mosman Bicycle Network hot spots have been given special treatment to minimise this risk. Examples are the slip lane at the Muston / Middle Head intersection and the protective marking at the Stanton / Spit intersection.
In a suburb like Mosman, with its topological constraints and through traffic challenges it has proven impossible to configure a bicycle network giving continuity of access from every house without resorting to the footpath to link parts of the network. Examples are Spit Rd between Parriwi Rd and Stanton Rd and Military Rd between Bond St and Cardinal St. (both sides). There is also a shared path through bushland from George’s Heights to Rawson Park, from Pearl Bay Avenue to the foreshore and under Spit bridge.
Sharing means just that. Please slow down when pedestrians are about and be aware of just how frightening it is for an older person to have a cyclist come up from behind and swoop past. Ringing your bell as a warning can be just as frightening. A better approach is to wait until you have wide clearance, then overtake the pedestrian very slowly or even dismount. Riding at a safe speed is your responsibility but there is a legal requirement for cyclists to give way to pedestrians and give them at least 1m clearance. Be particularly careful around dogs and small children as they are often unpredictable in their movements.
Apart from these designated shared paths it is against the law to ride on the footpath unless you are accompanying a child under 12. There may be a temptation to illegally ride on the footpath along Military Rd between Cardinal St and Cremorne Junction between Bickell and Medusa St. These are two places where Council recognises that shared paths would provide greater network continuity, but on balance has chosen to maintain the status quo. Consequently the legal position is that you must dismount. The same applies to using a signalised pedestrian crossing unless there is a bike signal as well as a little man. Better to walk your bike if there is any risk at all of colliding with a pedestrian.
There are some roundabouts on the Mosman Bicycle Network, for example on Belmont Rd, Bardwell Rd, Bradley’s Head Rd and Moruben Rd. The approach to the roundabout is always narrowed to a 3 m lane. Cyclists should look behind them, then signal a move to ‘capture the lane’ when it safe to do so, then enter the roundabout when it is clear of traffic.
Dedicated Bike Paths
At key points on the Mosman Bike Network you will find bike racks. Capacity will be continuously expanded to meet demand. Current locations include Civic Square, Bridgepoint, Mosman Junction, Mosman Wharf and Balmoral. . Council will be rolling out bike parking rings on parking signs in Military and Spit Roads.
Enjoying your ride
We are all creatures of habit so you probably instinctively reach for your car keys whenever you leave your house. But next time it’s a nice fine day and your trip destination is local, consider riding your bike. (If it has been sitting unused in your garage for a while, perhaps you should prepare by getting your bike serviced at the local bike shop). Here are some suggestions about how make that first bike ride enjoyable.
Map out your route before you ride before you begin by studying the bike map. You don’t need to ride the whole way – walking is just as healthy as riding and it might be better to park your bike and walk in congested areas. Unlike driving where you always take the same route, with cycling you might choose your route depending on time of day (hence traffic conditions) or even what your energy levels are (a short hilly route or a longer gentler climb).
If you need to make a right hand turn, but don’t feel confident about moving to the centre of the road, make a ‘hook turn’ when traffic in both directions is clear.
On the road be particularly on the watch out for cars entering from or turning into driveways of side streets always assume you haven’t been seen until it is clear that you have.
Do you bit to keep the blood pressure of drivers and pedestrians you encounter non-elevated by being courteous and predicable. It goes without saying that you should obey all the road rules . And don’t forget that your good cycling behaviour will be a good model for children.
Part of being courteous (and it is in your own interest as well) is wearing a fluoro vest or jacket and having good head and tail lights (the latter is a legal requirement)
Legally you need to carry photo ID and wear a helmet.
The mere fact that you are seen riding will encourage others to ride and the more people ride the safer riding will be for everyone.
The Seven Bay Bash is a glorious almost 30 km work-out ride through Mosman taking in Pearl,Hunter,Chowder, Taylor, Athol, Mosman and Quakers Hat bays, which exploits the Mosman Bicycle Network. There are many coffee opportunities along the route and toilets at The Spit, Balmoral, Chowder Bay and Mosman Bay. Download the map here.
There is a shorter recreational ride that avoids the hills associated with moving from plateau to foreshore and reverse apart from one descent to The Spit and an ascent up Parriwi Rd. This is an ideal family ride. You can download a map here.
For commuters from Manly to the city there are two alternative routs. One through North Cremorne and the other South Cremorne. You make the choice at the top of Parriwi Rd coming from Spit Bridge
We confidently predict that “Build it and they will come’ will mean ever increasing numbers of cyclists in Mosman. Once that happens it will be easy to justify further
development of the Mosman Bicycle Network. The next major works will be to increase cyclist safety along Rangers Ave. The RMS has also funded an upgrading of the North Cremorne commuter rote between Spit Bridge and St Leonards park.
Need to build confidence?
Bike North runs regular rider confidence building courses for adults ans City of Sydney runs courses for groups of school children. Check the Council website for local cycling events.