Bike racks in car bays lift shop trade

Converting on-street car parking into bike racks could be a gold mine for inner suburban businesses based on an analysis by Australia's top transport research authority.

In its two reports out this week, Austroads, the research body representing Australian road authorities including Main Roads WA, assessed dozens of case studies to identify ways to encourage more people to cycle.

It found adequate bike parking was a key way to encourage bicycle trips, particularly in heavily congested inner-urban areas.

In 2008, the City of Melbourne changed two street parking spaces in Lygon Street, Carlton, to a corral for 24 bikes at a cost of $30,500.

An evaluation several years later found it generated four times more spending at local businesses than if the space was used for cars - $4042 a day compared with $994.

The report said bicycle corrals were relatively cheap and increasingly popular in providing high-volume, high-turnover parking in cities around the world.

It said the City of Sydney replaced car parking with bike corrals in Surry Hills and Redfern.

Bicycling WA chief executive Jeremey Murray said the analysis supported the longstanding view that more bike infrastructure could be good for local businesses.

"Bike riders might not spend as much as car drivers but they spend it more often," Mr Murray said. "With bike bays, store owners can be assured of frequent visitors."

The report said connected and coherent cycling infrastructure was a key to increased cycling.

It said urban planners, designers and traffic and transport engineers were using innovative road treatments to encourage cycling.

One approach in Adelaide was for "bicycle head-start storage boxes" where cyclists could move to the front of the queue at red lights.

The report said this improved the visibility of cyclists and made motorists more aware of them.

It avoided conflict between cars and bikes, particularly between left-turning vehicles and cyclists going straight ahead.

Other initiatives included raised bicycle priority road crossings and bike paths on wide median strips.