Following a surge of people getting on their bikes in 2020, governments began building new bike lanes to foster the growth in sustainable, active transport.
The Victorian government announced its 100 kilometre Pop Up Bike Lanes project with new and improved bike routes across Melbourne. The City of Melbourne fast-tracked protected bike lanes from its 2030 Transport Plan, while other councils built more places to ride.
It is an exciting time for Melbourne and another step towards becoming a more bike-friendly city. Here’s how we can make a fair evaluation of bike lanes and ensure a change forever.
What is a fair evaluation?
As part of any trial, local and state governments must monitor and evaluate infrastructure to ensure that they are good investments and fit-for-purpose. In the case of bike lanes, a common evaluation method is counting increases or decreases in bike riding volumes before and after installing the lane.
So to determine whether pop-up bike lanes have had a positive effect on people riding bikes in a way that is reasonably fair and balanced, a carefully detailed monitoring and evaluation plan spanning at least 12 months is required.
This will ensure that seasonal changes in bike riding habits and external factors, such as lockdown restrictions, do not affect the trial findings. Let’s break it down further …
Five key steps to evaluating a new bike lane
1. Control sites
It is important to compare new bike lanes with a nearby untreated or ‘control’ site.
This allows us to account for any changes in bike volume due to outside effects, such as rainy weather or lockdown restrictions.
2. Mixed methods
Evaluating isn’t just about counting bikes. As well as quantitative (number-based) data, we should also collect qualitative (descriptive-based) data. Surveys, for example, will be essential for evaluating community attitudes to bike lane treatments.
3. Use modern counting technology
State-of-the-art traffic counting methods, such as AI-based counters, allow us to go above and beyond. We can gather long term data over wider areas, whilst also classifying road users and tracking their individual movements.
4. Pick good data collection points
Selecting the area for data collection must be done carefully. Consideration should be given to the location of key destinations such as schools, business and retail areas. Zones of high bike riding should be prioritised, so that bike traffic flow behaviours can be monitored.
5. Establish a 12-month timeline
Climate, weather patterns, school terms and daylight hours change throughout the year and will all have an effect on people’s choice to ride bikes.
A fair evaluation should be long enough to accommodate for these factors. A period no less than 12 months will allow for reasonable insights to be made.
Read our submission on pop-up bike lanes
In June 2021, Bicycle Network prepared a submission that details our recommendations for a fair evaluation of pop-up bike lanes.
To assist state and local governments with the roll-out and evaluation of pop-up bike lane treatments, Bicycle Network provided five key recommendations for measuring the effects of pop-up bike lanes in a robust and systematic manner.
These recommendations were provided in kind to ensure a fair go for the new bike lanes, and to help foster more active transport-focused urban planning.
As explained in the submission, the need for data goes beyond simply measuring the success of the bike lanes. The Victorian Government has highlighted its aims to increase bike riding patronage into the future, but to achieve this, we require strong policy that shapes Victoria’s bike riding experience. Strong policy requires strong data, and this needs to start now.READ OUR SUBMISSION
We know that collective action can make a difference. Help show the government that new pop-up bike lanes are a positive step towards a more healthy, sustainable and liveable Victoria.
Here are some ways that you can show your support.
Email the Minister for Roads and Road Safety
Send a quick email to Minister Ben Carroll about your positive experiences using the new pop-up bike lanes.Email Minister
Share our submission
Take snaps of you and others riding on the pop-up bike lanes. Share your photos on social media.Our Submission
Share on social
Help spread the word about pop-up lanes and share this website with your friends and family.