Best new website this century? Melbourne bike paths plotted on Google world

Now this is what I call a great inovation: Bikely.  It plots bike paths, and users’ favourite on-road bike routes, on a street directory, and lets you look at the map in three views: standard street directory, Google world satellite imagery, or the latter with key roads superimposed (‘hybrid view’). Check out the 10 km loop taking in the Yarra Boulevard here, for example, and the instructions here.  All Abbotsford routes here.  The first hyperlink in this post are to all Victorian routes — 1616 of them. It also has running routes, which must also be walking routes.  It will be interesting to see whether it is possible to put links to Flickr images in the instructions. Maybe one day I’ll finish this blog’s first ever post, and plot the King Walk from the Carringbush to Dights Falls on the site as a running route. The beautiful photo is courtesy of A J Shcroetlin of Colorado.  Leave a comment if you think this site is as great as I do.

St Vincent’s stands on the site of John Wren’s Cyclorama

The Fitzroy and Collingwood Sketchbook also told me this:

“St Vincent’s, the most easterly of these great [charity] hospitals, became closely linked with the residents of the inner suburbs. Today it is still conducted by the same order of nuns who founded the institution [the Sisters of Charity].

The more recent extension of the hospital, and those sections erected in 1928, straddle what was once a roaring colonial fairground, where a host of noisy and sometimes disreputable sideshows attracted a wide-eyed throng on weekends and holidays.

Later, at the turn of the century, part of the site was used for a wondrous structure called the Cyclorama, owned by the well-known sporting entrepreneur, John Wren. At the Cyclorama there were regular boxing and wrestling contests and later it was used to house a spectacular series of dioramas where the public could pay for the privilege of seeing tableaux showing the Battle of Waterloo, the Eureka Stockade and the Panorama of Jerusalem.”

Funny thing is, a cyclorama is not a place where cycles go around and around. It is a long painting affixed to the walls of a circular room. The punter stands in the middle. Now there is a book about them by Dr Mimi Colligan of Monash University (“the only historian to have made a detailed study of Australasian panoramas”, quite a claim to fame). They were very popular in the 19th century:

“The most popular traveled from city to city to provide local entertainment — much like a modern movie. As the viewers stood in the center of the painting, there would often be music and a narrator telling the story of the event depicted. Sometimes dioramas were constructed in the foreground to provide additional realism to the cyclorama.

Many circular and hexagonal shaped buildings were constructed in almost every major US and European city to provide a viewing space for the cycloramas.”

Wren’s cyclorama was variously a cycle track and boxing and wrestling theatre, but he bought it at the moment when cinema began to throw cyclorami into a decline.

A helpful guide to some of Melbourne’s bike paths

Given how big and successful Bicycle Victoria is, how popular cycling is becoming in Victoria, and how many fantastic bike paths there are, the signage of bikepaths, and their ease of use is astonishingly bad. For a long time after moving into Abbotsford, I remained confused about which of the two possible ways to proceed in order to get to the city, starting from the Walmer St bridge near Victoria Gardens or the Gipps St bridge. The thing is that to get to the city from there, you have to go in the opposite direction from the city, via Hawthorn, before looping back with the Yarra towards the city. Very counter-intuitive. Continue reading “A helpful guide to some of Melbourne’s bike paths”

Shooter of cyclist on Merri Creek bike path fined $6,000 & ordered to do 100 hours’ community work

I have earlier reported the shooting of Melinda Zygarlicki, noting with amazement the fact that she thought she had been struck by a tennis ball, and continued riding home. This is a crime with a quicker than usual denouement — I read in the paper just a day or two ago of the sentencing of one of the characters who carved up one bloke with a sword after a fight over a girl in July 2002 and chased two others, instilling such fear into them that they jumped into the Yarra and drowned — no doubt because Andrew Pernell turned himself into police and then pleaded guilty to firearms offences. ABC Online reported: Continue reading “Shooter of cyclist on Merri Creek bike path fined $6,000 & ordered to do 100 hours’ community work”

Travel Smart Maps: you gotta get one

The Yarra City Council staffs card-table stalls to promote public transport at places where Yarravites throng of a weekend: the Taste of Slow Festival, Richmond’s Gleadall St Market, etc. Amongst the badly arranged bits of paper with very useless information about walking and public transport are something truly useful to cyclists, a “Travel Smart” map about twice A3 size which folds into just a bit bigger than the largest, oblong, post-it notes. On the back are some really stupid bits to prove it’s created by the government, like this warning: “Walking and cycling, like any physical activity, are potentially hazardous. Use your commonsense [sic.].  Stay within your abilities, wear protective equipment and follow any applicable laws.” But there are more useful bits too, like lists of local bike shops, bike riding groups, train, tram and bus routes, and details of car sharing groups. If you want one — and you do — you can write to Kate Simnett, the Sustainable Transport Officer at simnettk@yarracity.vic.gov.au. Continue reading “Travel Smart Maps: you gotta get one”

Flow, a cafe on the bike path, near the Skipping Girl

On the way to Kew on Victoria St, or on the bike path, (or even on the river), depending on your perspective, is Flow. I rode past it regularly, then my dad said it was great, then Matt Preston seems to have given it the thumbs up. It certainly has a good location. I haven’t been there yet, but more when I have. Matt says:

“It’s a great spot. The look is modern, without being cold, and this cosy cottage is a warren of places to sit. Panels of swirly fabric cover one wall, while the bar is fronted by dark-stained timber blocks. The room is open to the roof beams and the floor is laid with rough, stone pavers stained charcoal. The best places to sit are by windows – in a comfy, raised red booth or at the narrow window ledge. …

We’ll come back again for their smoked salmon pizette or that burger, or maybe breakfast. I’ll order scrambled eggs with chorizo and some porridge with palm sugar and sultanas”.

They’re open from breakfast to afternoon tea and on Friday nights for drinks.

Gipps St Steps to Go


Only one flight of the forty-one Gipps St steps, which are to be replaced with a ramp are pictured. For many Abbotrigines, they are the starting point for any trip on the main Yarra bike path away from the city. No doubt many trips to the Collingwood Children’s Farm or the Abbotsford Convent, or Dight’s Falls which would otherwise be made along the safety of the trail are not made because of the stairs.

Having just spent a few days in Amsterdam, I con confirm the truth of the descriptions of the place in this treatment of the announcement in The Age. There are multistorey bike parks like Melbourne car parks there. The dedicated bike lanes means no one has to wear helmets. There are many bicycles designed for carrying substantial loads, what one might call bike utes, and kids ride regularly in their wheelbarrow like trays.

How the replacement of the stps can possibly cost $1.5 million is something I would be very interested to know. Another fascinating question is how it could have been considered a good idea for the teachers’ union’s Mary Bluett and the Police Union’s Paul Mullett to come out with the public criticism that the money could be better put towards (gosh what could it be?), yep, teachers, and police. Links: Continue reading “Gipps St Steps to Go”