Australias first bike safety program 1977 – 1982

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it is clear that the transport future will include far more ways of moving people around cities that exists today.  Not everyone will ride a bike but a great many will do so.  Geelong Bikeplan is planning for those changes.  It is appropriate now to place greater emphasis in encouraging more people to use bicycles and make the general public more aware of the rights of cyclists” – Geelong Bike Plan

On Friday 8th July 1977 Geelong launched an audacious plan to improve safety on its roads, in what was to become Australia’s very first bike safety campain.  The aim was to encourage more people to ride their bikes.  Its motto was;

every street is a cycling street

 

Image courtesy of Bicycle Users Geelong

A number of safety initiatives that we appreciate today we can attribute to the city of Geelong.  This bike plan was introduced to help improve road behavior of car drivers and cyclist and for its time implemented a number of radical changes.

These included:

  • Trialing reduced speed limits in residential streets down to 40 km/h
  • Building segregated bike lanes on some roads.  In total there were 14 km of bike lanes introduced
  • Signage was put all around Corio to help educate motorists and cyclists
  • Detailed bike maps were produced for local residents
  • Investing in bicycle infrastructure such as warning signs and bike racks for public use to encourage people to get out and ride more
  • Introducing a publication on cycling safety to be introduced to the curriculum of local schools
  • Opening their first bike path.  This connected the Norlane area north of Cowies Creek to North Geelong High School and Bell Park Technical School.  This path was primarily set-up to provide a safe way for children to get too and from school
  • Using law enforcement to improve the safety of cyclists.  Two full-time Police officers were appointed for a four month period.  These officers reviewed alternative approaches to bicycle enforcement and to observe the road behaviour of motorists and cyclists. During this period over 2,000 warnings were issued to motorists and cyclists.  120 motorists were fined as well
  • During 1980 a 12 minute film was produced for the Geelong Bikeplan
  • This campaign was marketed in newspaper, T.V, and safety fliers were developed to help educate everyone
Image courtesy of Bicycle Users Geelong

The government enlisted the help of one of Australia’s most famous cyclists Hubert Opperman to join the fight.  Opperman had served 17 years in parliament representing the city of Corio from 1949 to 1967 before retiring from politics.  Opperman was a widely respected member of the community.

He added a major presence to the campaign.

This trial was a huge success and was widely recognised at the time as a model for bicycle planning around the country.  We can be thankful that the bike infrastructure that sometimes we take for granted today.  This may not have been possible without the hard work of the Geelong Bikeplan some 40 years ago.

Image courtesy of Bicycle Users Geelong

Sources:

Images courtesy of the Geelong Heritage Centre

View the Geelong Bike Plan 1979-80 brochure (PDF).

http://www.bicycleusersgeelong.org.au/geelong-bike-plan-1977-82/

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