However, the further you travel from the CBD the more inflexible the system becomes due to limited interchange options. The arterial arrangement of the train and tram network dictates that passengers are often reliant on local bus services to join the dots. As a newcomer to Melbourne, I often find there are almost no options to venture further out to iconic Victorian tourist destinations such as the Yarra Valley or Mornington.
Rather than investing heavily in expanding the public transport network, why not update the existing tram system to allow a cycle compartment and update the stations to allow easy access with your bicycle? This would increase the reach of the existing network with very minimal effort and resources.
This could be achieved in a number of ways. The lightest intervention may be for bikes simply to be allowed onto the tram during off-peak hours and trams remain unchanged. Other options may look at reconfiguring the seating arrangement to run along the length of the tram and incorporate fold down seating, common on light rail in other parts of the world, freeing up space in the centre of the carriage for bikes. Low level bike racks may even be fitted between the seats to park your bike into.
More radical proposals may help to make the system functional during peak hours – new trams with profiles that allow for bikes to be easily loaded to the outside or rear of the tram could keep passenger space and bike space separate. Or additional cars added to existing trams for bike specific transit.
Making the public transport system more appealing to cyclists should have a positive effect on the numbers of people getting on their bike. Encouragement to become self-propelled may even reduce the numbers of people relying on the tram for short journeys during peak hours, freeing up spare capacity on the existing network and keeping Melbourne healthy!