Brisbane has a long-established cycling scene, with a growing population of cyclists of all types. And while joining the ranks of Brisbane cyclists is to be commended and encouraged, take the time to brush up on your cycling etiquette before heading out to terrorise motorists, pedestrians, and other cyclists. Here are five tips to help navigate Brisbane’s cycling scene and ensure a hassle-free ride all year round.
1. The River Loop: Navigating Anita Street
There’s a well known street on the River Loop that causes no end of confusion for those new to cycling Brisbane’s iconic River Loop: Anita Street. Accessed via a right turn from Kadumba Street in Yeronga, Anita Street is a delightful descent to whizz down on a solo ride with nary a cyclist in sight. However, there are two route options during the Anita Street descent – a mid-way right turn onto Diane Street, or a right turn onto Esplanade at the very of Anita Street. There have been numerous close calls when cyclists have cut across others with the (false) assumption that everyone is going the same way. So bear in mind that other riders or groups will take the alternative option to that you or your group have chosen, and be sure to correctly signal with plenty of advance notice for those around you.
Tip #1: Make sure the peloton knows the route uses hand signals well in advance.
2. Coping with the Cold
Every now and then Brisbane’s autumnal season throws in a few fresh mornings that have natives scurrying for the winter woollies (and non-natives oblivious to any seasonal change). These beautifully cool mornings provide perfect cycling weather, but before you rug up against the ‘cold’, think again. Now is not the time for winter accessorising, so put down those colour coordinated arm and leg warmers. While you might feel deliciously warm and look impressively pro, a Brisbane autumn morning heats up to a scorching summer day in a flash, and once that sun peeks over the horizon those fleecy cover ups will turn into steaming, smelly rags. At this stage you’ll have two options: stay downwind of the peloton and sweat your way through the rest of the ride, or take a minute or two to remove the warmers and hope you can catch back up.
Tip #2: Save the warmers for the winter (i.e. those three freezing cold weeks in July).
3. Speed Traps for Cyclists
Nothing’s better than racing down a steep hill with not a care in the world, but newcomers to cycling in Brisbane take heed; that made-for-cycling descent from the top of Mount Coot-tha to the bottom is a particular favourite for police looking to enforce speed zones. More than a few cyclists have been busted for exceeding the speed limit down Mount Coot-tha (this author included), and while a speeding fine will announce to all and sundry your excellent descending skills at death-defying speeds, it will also cost you dollars and demerits. Penalties for speeding for cyclists are the same for motorists: less than 13km/h over the speed limit is $157 and the loss of 1 demerit point; at least 13km/h but not more than 20km/h over the speed limit is $235 and 3 demerit points; and more than 20km/h over the speed limit is a hefty $392 and 4 demerit points. Additionally, Mount Coot-that is a shared recreational area, and both cyclists and motorists should take care along these roads.
Tip #3: Stick to the speed limit at all times, and save your pennies for a new Garmin instead.
4. Swarms of Saturday Runners
Beginning cyclists beware! Avoid at all cost routes used by Brisbane’s many weekend, group, and parkrun runners. Those beautifully located bicycle paths along the Brisbane River are best avoided on Saturdays when parkrunners, regular runners, dogs, children on bikes, and parents pushing prams all take to the paths for a spot of weekend exercise. While a solo rider or two may squeeze past the hordes, albeit with much difficulty, a peloton will not and it’s best to find a route that will make use of cycling lanes rather than shared paths. Bear in mind that all path users and parkrun participants are expected to abide by standard road and pedestrian rules – walk and run to the left, don’t block the path, and share with other users – but many do not, and the sheer number of these runners can cause havoc for other users. After 7:00am on Saturdays try to avoid the Bicentennial Bikeway and nearby areas, the New Farm to Teneriffe Bikeway, the shared path along Eagle Street Pier, and other shared footpaths used by runners, groups, and parkrun through Brisbane. Interested in swapping your wheels for sneakers? Information on parkrun can be found here.
Tip #4: Get up early on Saturday morning, or stick to the roads or bicycle lanes after 7:00am. Remember to signal your presence with a bell!
5. Bicycle Parking Etiquette
The etiquette of bicycle parking is very real and very serious. Take the following example: Jane has just finished a brutal Coot-tha climb and is eagerly looking forward to a post ride coffee at one of Brisbane’s cycling-friendly cafes. She finds an ideal space to park her bike, and enjoys an expertly made flat white. Once finished, Jane retrieves her bike but to her horror three other cyclists have leaned their bicycles against hers, damaging the custom paint job. Poor Jane. Spaces available to park your pushie are limited in many places throughout Brisbane, and under no circumstances should you lean your bike against another, especially if you do not already know the owner. Bike leaning – i.e. leaning your bicycle against another person’s bicycle – is by invite only. If, and only if, you have been given permission to lean your bike against another’s, the correct method is top to tail (your handlebars face the rear wheel of the other bike). This creates a ‘flatter’ stack, and is less likely to cause the treadlies to topple.
Tip #5: Avoid the scratched paint and ensuing tears, and show respect when parking your pushie.