Impact of COVID-19 lockdown on cycling in Melbourne – a first glance

Anyone who has been out on Melbourne’s street network or shared paths will have witnessed the explosion in the number of people walking and cycling. Until now, this increase has been purely anecdotal.

The other day I had a brief look at the bicycle volume and speed data from the Victorian Government data portal, just out of curiosity.

I’m not one for hyperbole, but in this case I could not believe my eyes as the huge increases in the volumes of people riding.

As one example, the Merri Creek Trial at Moreland Road saw a 38% increase in bicycle volumes in March and a massive 70% increase in April (compared to 2019).

In the graph above, the sudden drop around 2 – 5 April was probably because of the heavy rain that would have flooded parts of the path and also likely kept more people indoors.

The sort of numbers that we’re seeing are nothing short of incredible. Every counter has broken at least one previous record. Even routes used primarily by commuters – like the St Georges Road Path – has seen more riders than ever before (albeit on weekends).

These are the largest increases since this dataset began five years ago in 2015.

I have not yet had a chance to go through all 47 sites in great detail, but at a glance the highest increases in volumes appear to be at:

  • Darebin Creek Trail (at Heidelberg Road)
  • Bay Trail (St Kilda)
  • Anniversary Trail (Balwyn)

I will hopefully have the time soon to do some more detailed analysis and present these findings in another post. The full data is fiddly to use as the numbers are spread out across different spreadsheets covering individual days and counters, so it’s a bit of work to get any meaninful information.

In the meantime, a more readable data summary should be released on the VicRoads dashboard soon. If you can’t wait for that, you can access the raw data on the Victorian Government Data Portal here.

1 Comment

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

David Farrowreply
7 May, 2020 at 12:57 pm

Phillip Agree entirely

Last week I sent off an analysis of a brief count that I did on new bridge on the Darebin Link and a plea to Boroondara Council and the State Government to build some more off road infrastructure in the City of Boroondara.

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