Melbourne, Australia "Copenhagen Style" Bike Separated Lanes

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Melbourne, Australia

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Type: Policy

Status: Adopted in 2007

Source File:


The City of Melbourne has been exploring better ways to ensure all road users can share our roads safely.

In 2007, a new bike separated lane design was constructed along the northern end of Swanston Street, between Franklin and Faraday streets. Bike lanes now run alongside the footpath, with cars parking on the outside of the bike lane, closest to the road. A one metre wide island separates the bike lane from parked cars.

This style of bike lane has been used successfully in Europe, and is known as the ‘Copenhagen’ style of bike lane. The first bike lanes of this type were constructed in Copenhagen in Denmark.

Download the fact sheet here:

PDF: Bike Separated Lanes Fact Sheet (114kb)
Word: Bike Separated Lanes Fact Sheet (494kb)

What do bike separated lanes look like?
Bike separated lanes essentially provide a cycling path on the road that’s physically separated from other road users as an island separates parked cars from cyclists.

The Swanston Street bike path is two metres wide and the island separating parked cars and bikes is one metre wide. The City of Melbourne has chosen a wide island to help prevent cyclists crashing into car doors on the passenger side, or into passengers getting out of cars.

What are the benefits of bike separated lanes?
Between 1998 and 2003, there were 10 serious accidents involving cyclists and cars along this part of Swanston Street.

Bike separated lanes separate motorists from cyclists, and allow both to travel more safely on the same road.

The new lanes also reduce the risk of cyclists colliding with opened car doors. Bike separated lanes can also be installed with minimal disruption to the usual flow of traffic along a road.

The City of Melbourne has made a commitment to encourage sustainable transport choices in the city. Providing a safer environment for cyclists will encourage more people to consider cycling to the city, reducing traffic congestion and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

What impact will the bike lanes have on surrounding areas?
Cross section of Copenhagen bike lanes on Swanston Street, Melbourne.

The new bike lanes will have a minor impact on the area.

New signage and road markings highlight cyclist and pedestrian zones, and parking spaces along the northern end of Swanston Street have been reduced by eight to 10 spaces.

With construction now complete, the area looks a little different, with the new island installed and new road markings, but footpath widths have not changed.

Who funded the bike separated lanes?
This project was initiated by Bicycle Victoria and is being managed by the City of Melbourne. The project is worth $485,000, and is funded by VicRoads. It is the first Copenhagen-style bicycle route in the City of Melbourne.