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  1. #1
    O RL'YEH? Smen's Avatar
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    Moving to Sydney, how's the commute?

    I'm an American, I'm used to commuting to work in a bike friendly--well relatively--part of the pacific north west (seattle) and I am moving to Sydney Australia. I am debating whether or not to get a folding bike and taking it with me to Australia or to break down my current bike and ship it over. I have no idea what the size of Sydney is like compared to the cities that I am used to riding around and I don't know how easy it is throw your bike on say the front of a bus (I can do it here, but that doesnt mean that I can do it there per say.) So any help would be most appreciated.

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Sydney is HUGE (4 million+) and HILLY. The parts I've ridden in, however, have been managable, and they allow bicycles on the trains in non-peak hours.

  3. #3
    I like my car ShadowGray's Avatar
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    From what we've been hearing, sydney isn't the most bike-friendly place in the world. I'm sure the guy who stalled can tell you more.

  4. #4
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    I commute through Sydney every day. It's OK - there are a few hills, but hills are fun, right? And the climate is great for cycling. Never very cold, generally quite dry.

    Any idea where you'll be living and working? Sydney is quite a spread-out city. One thing that really sucks is that you can't take a bike on the train in peak hour, and the buses don't have bike racks. This makes doing a half and half public transport / bike commute difficult. (The folding bike would be OK on the train if you have a bag for it, I guess.)

  5. #5
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    I do a daily commute through Sydney, 100km (about 66 miles) r/t. I sometimes ride the whole way when I'm commuting outside of peak hours but usually do about half by train, only because that half is just too dangerous during peak.

    No bikes facilities on busses at all here in Sydney. You may be able to get a *small* folder onboard outside of peak hour, maybe.

    You can take your bike on the trains at all times, including peak hours, but during peak hours (6.30AM - 9.00AM, 3.30PM to 7.00PM) you pay a child fare for the bike. Outside of those times the bike rides free.

    During peak on the trains and busses it's just not practical to get on with a folder (bus) or any bike (train) because it's so full of people. Heck, in many areas you'll be lucky just to get yourself on a bus during peak!

    As for riding on roads, it all depends where in Sydney you'll be. Different parts of Sydney are very different in terms of rideability, some areas are fantastic, other are literally suicide. Drivers here are some of the most agressive you'll find anywhere in the world, and there is a hatred of cyclists and a belief that we don't belong on the road that is prevalent throughout the population. It's fairly rare for me to have an incident-free commute.

    It's somewhat hilly, but I don't even notice the hills any more. You just get used to them.
    Last edited by Cyclaholic; 05-13-08 at 07:02 PM.
    There are 10 types of people in the world - the ones that can count in base 2, the ones that can't count in base 2, and the ones that didn't expect this to be in base 3.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Bayin's Avatar
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    Where will you be riding from and to, as I have ridden over most of Sydney I might be able to suggest a good route to take. Your right (Cyclaholic) there are hills here but after a while you just don't notice them anymore

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    Off question: in Australia, what's the default setting for brakes? Left lever is front, and right lever is back, or the other way around?

  8. #8
    Senior Member bellweatherman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whatsmyname View Post
    Off question: in Australia, what's the default setting for brakes? Left lever is front, and right lever is back, or the other way around?

    They do stuff really weird in these Commonwealth countries (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, UK). Pretty much anywhere where they drive on the left side of the road, the bikes are all backwards too. They route the left brake lever to the rear brake. And the right brake lever to the front brake. I tried it and it was just too bizarro for me.
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  9. #9
    <user defined text>
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclaholic View Post
    You can take your bike on the trains at all times, including peak hours, but during peak hours (6.30AM - 9.00AM, 3.30PM to 7.00PM) you pay a child fare for the bike. Outside of those times the bike rides free.

    During peak on the trains and busses it's just not practical to get on with a folder (bus) or any bike (train) because it's so full of people. Heck, in many areas you'll be lucky just to get yourself on a bus during peak!
    You are correct. Sorry, I was mis-informed.

    I agree with the comment about how packed the trains and buses get though. Not being able to get onto a bus in the morning is one of the reasons I cycle...!

  10. #10
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whatsmyname View Post
    Off question: in Australia, what's the default setting for brakes? Left lever is front, and right lever is back, or the other way around?
    Since we're a civilized society we follow the convention of left lever-rear brake, right lever-front brake, but we're happy to accommodate foreigners that happen to do things backwards.
    There are 10 types of people in the world - the ones that can count in base 2, the ones that can't count in base 2, and the ones that didn't expect this to be in base 3.

  11. #11
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Sydney is HUGE (4 million+) and HILLY. The parts I've ridden in, however, have been managable, and they allow bicycles on the trains in non-peak hours.
    Doesn't the 4 million include Newcastle and the 'gong?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclaholic View Post
    Since we're a civilized society we follow the convention of left lever-rear brake, right lever-front brake, but we're happy to accommodate foreigners that happen to do things backwards.
    I've lived in both types of places (civilized and uncivilized ) and have ridden bikes that were hooked up each way, so I am now completely confused about what will happen when I pull on the left hand lever. Either I'm going to go right over the handlebars or I'm going to do a giant BMX-style skid. It's always exciting.

    (I was asking because I am coming to Oz soon and was wondering whether I could get myself into it).

  13. #13
    derailleurs are overrated bigbenaugust's Avatar
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    All I can say is "Luckyyyy!" My wife and I spent some time there on our honeymoon. Nice town, but I'd watch for the drivers, as they seem not to like cyclists much. But hey, you can just add "crazy ute drivers" to the list of deadly beasts you'll have to contend with!

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  14. #14
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    I don't find the drivers in Sydney so bad - no worse than in the UK, for example.

    The rationale I read for the switch in brake levers is to enable the rider to slow down with the rear brake whilst signalling a turn across the traffic (so a right turn here, left turn in the US). Because we all know that to use the front brake without the rear is suicide, right?

  15. #15
    Junior Member oz505's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny_Monkey View Post
    Doesn't the 4 million include Newcastle and the 'gong?
    No, this is just Sydney and suburbs, newcastle is about 160kms north.....

  16. #16
    Member Bernie's Avatar
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    I commute daily in Sydney - to/from a suburb in the city's North West (locally known as "The Hills" district) and its pretty hilly around here ... I actually like that as I find riding in relatively flat places (like some parts of Canberra and Melbourne) kind of boring without the constant up hill/down hill bits (I like to get out of my seat and crank it so constant changes in elevation suit me).

    The traffic is pretty solid, but mostly its fine with drivers giving you room or respecting your rights to take the lane ("usually"). The number of dedicated cycleways depends a lot on your local council as the State government doesnt appear all that interested in creating dedicated lanes unless they can force it into some public/private road building project. Around here you mostly find those useless painted cycle signs (which have no "legal" status") along the side of the road (They may as well paint "car-park" on the road as, in my experience, they usually have a car parked on them).

    You aren't going to get a bike on the bus too easily and the trains are pretty crowded ... but that why some of us cycle - to avoid tha buses and trains.

    I guess you have no idea where you plan to live, so without any idea of where or how far your commute is going to be, its pretty hard to make recommendations.

    You may like to join Sydney Cyclist, or perhaps have a quick look at some video footage I have taken of riding locally ... general riding in various places (for example Manly Beach) here and a particularly memorable commute here.

    Hope to see you in the crazy Sydney traffic some time.

  17. #17
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oz505 View Post
    No, this is just Sydney and suburbs, newcastle is about 160kms north.....
    I think the figure includes the Central Coast at least. 3.6 million in urban Sydney.

  18. #18
    Member Bernie's Avatar
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    Central Coast ?

    Why would the central coast be included ? If you look on a map, Sydney only goes as far north as Hornsby, South as far as southerland and west as far as Penrith/Camden. Once you cross the Brooklyn bridge to the north, you ain't in Sydney any more ... same for the mountains to the west and the National Park to the south. Have a look here

  19. #19
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    Syd isn't nearly as bike friendly as other Aus cities, but the more of us doing it the betterer it gets I inner west/city commmute and it can get pretty narly. Despite good awareness I still got clipped by a pissed off bus driver a few weeks back. Whichever bike you bring, remember your locks as well

  20. #20
    Studs Terkel Johnny_Monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie View Post
    Why would the central coast be included ? If you look on a map, Sydney only goes as far north as Hornsby, South as far as southerland and west as far as Penrith/Camden. Once you cross the Brooklyn bridge to the north, you ain't in Sydney any more ... same for the mountains to the west and the National Park to the south. Have a look here
    Don't ask me, ask the Bureau of Statistics. It says Wyong and Gosford are part of the Sydney statistical area.

    It also includes Liverpool and Campbelltown IIRC.

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    are there many bicycle lanes on road in sydney?

  22. #22
    <user defined text>
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    There are various sorts of bike 'lane' in Sydney. In descending order of frequency:

    Bike Routes

    These are not lanes, merely ordinary (back) roads marked with occasional painted on bike symbols. There are also blue signs every now and again which tantalise you with a direction you should take if you want to follow the bike route to somewhere. If you try to follow the signs, though, you will discover that it's really just a plot to get you lost in the suburbs, as the signs invariably stop after a couple of km.
    Bike lanes
    There are quite a few of these, identified by a painted-on bike symbol underneath a parked car. Best avoided unless you like being forced into the door zone. The RTA produce a map showing where they are, which is handy as you can then avoid them.
    MUPs
    There are a number of MUPs (shared bike / walkways). These generally start about 200m away from any convenient road, and finish at a pedestrian crossing from which it is difficult to rejoin the road safely.
    Purpose built cycle lanes
    There are a very few of these, and they start where you aren't, and finish where you don't want to go.
    Cycle expressway
    There is one of these - over the Harbour Bridge. It allows you to build up a tremendous amount of speed on the long downhill before you come around the bend and discover a metal barrier in front of you behind which is a long set of steps...

  23. #23
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    Excellent

  24. #24
    Member Bernie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny_Monkey View Post
    Don't ask me, ask the Bureau of Statistics. It says Wyong and Gosford are part of the Sydney statistical area.

    It also includes Liverpool and Campbelltown IIRC.
    Really That's so stoopid!! Liverpool yes, Campbelltown maybe (I lived there 20 years ago and it was a fair drive) ... but Wyong and Gosford!!

  25. #25
    Member Bernie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trombone View Post
    There are various sorts of bike 'lane' in Sydney. In descending order of frequency:

    Bike Routes

    These are not lanes, merely ordinary (back) roads marked with occasional painted on bike symbols. There are also blue signs every now and again which tantalise you with a direction you should take if you want to follow the bike route to somewhere. If you try to follow the signs, though, you will discover that it's really just a plot to get you lost in the suburbs, as the signs invariably stop after a couple of km.
    Bike lanes
    There are quite a few of these, identified by a painted-on bike symbol underneath a parked car. Best avoided unless you like being forced into the door zone. The RTA produce a map showing where they are, which is handy as you can then avoid them.
    MUPs
    There are a number of MUPs (shared bike / walkways). These generally start about 200m away from any convenient road, and finish at a pedestrian crossing from which it is difficult to rejoin the road safely.
    Purpose built cycle lanes
    There are a very few of these, and they start where you aren't, and finish where you don't want to go.
    Cycle expressway
    There is one of these - over the Harbour Bridge. It allows you to build up a tremendous amount of speed on the long downhill before you come around the bend and discover a metal barrier in front of you behind which is a long set of steps...

    Excellent call Trombone Mind if I plagiarise this ?

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