Macedon Ranges cycling push goes up a gear

Wilkinson's Wheels initiative started last November. Picture Shawn Smits.

Macedon Ranges residents want the council to take the lead and develop a more cycle-friendly culture.

The residents, in a submission to the council’s draft leisure strategy, have called for more bike paths and areas to park and secure bikes.

They have also highlighted the need for safe bike routes, particularly for children riding to school.

Wilkinson’s Wheels founder Phil Wilkinson has submitted a strategy to the council, based on consultation with the community and cycling groups.

The submission focused on engaging all age groups in cycling more regularly, and proposed a “strong focus on behaviour change at a local level, improved assets and an integrated leisure and cycling plan”.

Mr Wilkinson said the council’s current draft leisure strategy was “really weak on cycling”.

The founder of local female cycling group Femmes and Velos, Tiffany Winchester, said residents wanted to combat bike riding being considered as simply sport.

“We want it to not be seen as a big deal to get on your bike, but rather something that is normal behaviour,” she said.

Dr Winchester said her children being able to ride to school on a bike path was “the exception rather than the norm”, as most children did not have a safe route to ride on.

Bike Safe Macedon Ranges member Jem Richards’ contribution to the submission agreed schoolchildren should have a safe route to ride to school.

“We believe that everyone within three kilometres of the station and school should be able to walk or ride to school safely,” Mr Richards said on behalf of the group.

The need to improve and establish more bike paths and facilities to park and secure bikes has been emphasised in Mr Wilkinson’s strategy.

“Our cycling paths need to go somewhere and be connected for people to use them,” the submission stated. “It’s difficult to get around unless you are OK to go on/off the road.”

The groups also want a change in the mindset towards cycling culture.

“There also has to be drivers that look for kids on bikes,” Dr Winchester said. “Cyclists are still seen as always being in the way.”

The Macedon Ranges cycling submission also claimed a co-ordinated cycling strategy would help increase tourism to the area.

“The community’s delivered a big picture strategic plan, now it can partner with council to move it forward,” Mr Wilkinson said.