Guest Post – by “Pommie on a Brommie”
Penny (aka “Pommie on a Brommie”) and her husband have been visiting Melbourne for years now with their Bromptons and love exploring our bike paths and rail trails. We were pleased that they were happy to join us on a few MBC rides late last year.
Penny has kindly offered to share a few tips – from a British bicycle rider’s point of view – about cycling around Melbourne.
: ) Dayna
Some tips for visitors
- Obvious to some visitors, but maybe not to others – cycle on the left!
- You must wear a cycle helmet at all times – it’s the law
- If you don’t have a good reason for travelling during the commuter rush hour – don’t do it
- Have a bell on your bike to courteously warn pedestrians/slower cyclists on shared paths that you are passing. Do watch out for headphone wearers – they won’t have heard your polite warning, and they could veer into your path
(Note: bells are required by law on all bicycles in Australia – Dayna)
- Whatever your skin tone – use high factor sunscreen or cover up. Prolonged exposure to the sun is dangerous, even on a cloudy day. This is particularly important if you cycle along the coast because damaging ultra-violet rays are reflected from the water
- Cross tram tracks at as near 90 degrees as possible, particularly when wet, or you risk a dangerous skid. Watch out for tram tracks curving gently at a crossroads – it’s very tempting to follow their line.
- If a cycle path passes to the left side of a tram stop, and a tram is approaching, watch out for a pop-out signal from the tram telling you to “Stop!”. It is illegal to pass the tram as passengers will be crossing the cycle path (and they won’t be expecting cyclists)
- Carry a refillable water bottle to take advantage of water refill stations on the main trails
- Consider buying a Tourist Myki (public transport card) which has discounts to some of the main visitor attractions. If you take advantage of any of these discounts, it covers the administration costs of the card. And then you always have the option of getting back to base easily if you have a bad day or a mechanical problem
- Cycling into the wind is really no fun on a Brompton. If it’s a windy day, (hint: the kite surfers are out) and the wind is forecast to continue to come from more or less the same direction all day take public transport upwind and then get an easy ride back downwind. (However, this doesn’t work for a southerly wind!)
- Take the Metro out of the city to a trailhead. This is sometimes uphill, so you can have a great day gently rolling back to your start without having to retrace your wheeltracks
- Let sleeping snakes lie. Stamp and make a lot of noise if you step off the cycle trail for any reason e.g. to take a picture
- Use Google Maps (or similar) to search for café/bakeries/restaurants a little away from the trails so you don’t have to carry refreshments (unless you want to)
- To avoid disappointment/or having to cycle like a bat out of hell, check the closing time of your chosen teatime refreshment stop – cafés tend to close earlier than “teatime”
- For inspiration use this map of Melbourne’s Bike Trails together with Vic Public Transport Planner to plan trips, and remember that the Melbourne Brompton Club members will be able to give you tips and advice
- Finally, remove your speedometer. Don’t log in to Strava. Take the time to absorb the views, to admire the coloured birds, to smell the eucalyptus, to drink the coffee and just relax. That’s what you’ll remember years later and not that you cycled from Beacon Cove to Rickett’s Point in half an hour. Enjoy yourself!