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Freo bid to become cycling capital

The City of Fremantle will spend more than $2 million in the next four years to transform itself into Australia's most bike-friendly city - a "Copenhagen of the south".

Fremantle's bike plan, which the council passed this week, will mean a major investment boost in infrastructure including paths, end-of-ride facilities and more bicycle hire.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said the city aimed to make cycling safer and easier with the hope of doubling participation rates to 5.8 per cent by 2017 and making Fremantle the top cycle city in Australia.

Fremantle has a bicycle participation rate of 2.9 per cent of residents, well above the national average of 1.7 per cent. No council in Australia has participation rates of more than 5 per cent.

Fremantle will also double the kilometres of bike paths, with an extra 44km to be added by 2017.

David McKay and his children Cayci and Tom, of Paraburdoo, sample a bicycle for hire as they holiday in Fremantle. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

"Fremantle plans to have around 100km of bike lanes and paths by 2017 - a large percentage of Perth's 700-odd kilometres of cycling routes," Dr Pettitt said. "Our aim is for cyclists to be able to ride east to west, north to south through the city without ever leaving a bike path."

The city will spend $500,000 over the next year implementing the plan - between $15 and $20 per ratepayer - almost double its spending last year.

The Bicycle Network's bicycle expenditure index revealed the City of Fremantle spent $8.95 on cycle infrastructure per ratepayer last year, well above the organisation's target threshold of $5.

Dr Pettitt said high-quality infrastructure and a change in community behaviour was needed.

He said free or affordable bike-hire initiatives would be encouraged to enable everyone in the locality to have access to a bike.

Bicycling WA chief executive Jeremey Murray welcomed the commitment and commended its bold vision.

"While participation rates as high as 5 per cent is a high figure, I think given the city's demographic, location and street layout that it could be in a good position to achieve this," Mr Murray said. "BWA would like to see cycling participation in WA increase to 10 per cent over the next 20 years."