Sunday 28 September 2014

Perth's protected bicycle track built in 1986

The Perth suburb of Kensington has a protected cycle track that has been in place for 28 years. It connects Kensington Primary School to an underpass below Canning Highway. This is not a footpath converted to a "shared path" by painting a few symbols on the ground, it's the real thing. Pedestrians, bicycle riders and motorists each have their own space. Three modes separated.

Banksia Terrace Kensington

Banksia Terrace Kensington

Back in 1986 someone at the City of South Perth council must have had some inspiration. This 400 metre long section of Banksia Terrace had the carriageway narrowed and a bicycle track was installed along the north side. It was done by simply removing the option of on-street car parking on one side and building a buffer zone with concrete kerbs and garden beds.

Being bi-directional and 3.1 metres wide it is not quite world's-best-practice by today's standards but it is so much better than the unprotected painted lanes that are commonly installed around Perth.

Kensington Primary School on left

I was living in a rented house in the street at the time it was installed. I do not remember any details about community consultation or engagement. I think the council just-did-it, without fuss. If anybody was involved and knows some of the background, I would be interested to know how it happened. 

After it was done, there did not seem to be any complaints or "bike lash". There was just some confusion about parking for a few months. People parked their cars on the bicycle track because they did not understand what is was, this type of infrastructure would have been a first in Perth.

In those early days the bicycle track was the same colour, the red bitumen used now helps to define the space and there currently does not appear to be any parking problem.

There is "No Parking" allowed in driveways nearby but the bicycle track is controlled with the more restrictive "No Standing" zone which means no stopping at any time.

"No Parking" sign

"No Standing" sign

It is becoming common practice for Western Australia's local governments to convert standard footpaths to "shared paths", it is cheap and easy but not very safe. Driveways are often hidden behind high walls and vegetation, as shown in this photograph below. Having a protected bicycle track further away from the property line allows time for both the motorist and bicycle rider to see each other and avoid a collision.

Banksia Terrace Kensington

Unfortunately the path ends at the underpass and once you come out on the western side people on bicycles are delivered back onto a normal street with pinch points. 

Canning Highway underpass

Western side of underpass
Banksia Terrace, western side of Canning Highway

And unfortunately, the path also ends in 1986. Imagine what Kensington and South Perth would be like now if this type of infrastructure continued. If they just did 400 metres each year, there would be more than 11 kilometres of protected bicycle tracks. Why did the City of South Perth stop?

1986 protected bicycle track

2014 ?


  1. 28 years is too long for me. my name is Jon Tomas and mountain biking is best thing in my life.

  2. It's sad as even the modern day
    'bike friendly' Council of south Perth don't propose anything for this path. No extension or barely any recognition. Why?