Saturday, 1 August 2020

Melbourne Bike Grid Map

Summary: Google Maps bicycling layer is a useful cycling infrastructure tool but it's hard to find complete routes and its directions are always sub-optimal. Actual cycling experience is needed to identify the preferred complete routes, links and cycling-specific destinations. Hence, I've created a Melbourne Bike Grid Map to collate these insights. I continually update the key routes, destinations and info of most relevance to Melbourne cyclists. This post will explain how to use the custom map and provide answers to common queries.


Related Posts:


How do I find and easily access the map?


Google Search: Search for "Melbourne Bike Grid Map"

Save to your Google Maps App: Click the Star icon (right side of map description) to save it in your own Google Maps account. Then access in the Google Maps app (e.g. on your phone) from the Saved tab and scroll to the far right to view saved maps.






How do I contact you and what can I contact you about?

Contact Adrian Lobo at loboadrian AT gmail.com

Please do not contact me with any commercial queries or projects. Please do contact me if able to help make the cycling network map more extensive, accurate or useful in the local areas you know well.


What type of infrastructure are the Off-road Trails/Paths in Melbourne and Victoria?

They are almost all Shared Paths: generally paved paths for use by cyclists and pedestrians - with pedestrians defined as including wheelchairs, mobility scooters and all wheeled recreational devices (skateboards, rollerblades, push scooters.)

Please give way to, and take care around, pedestrians and more vulnerable users (using bell or voice when passing). These shared paths are not intended for going as fast as you can (especially over 30km/hr) when there are other users travelling much slower.


Can this map be used for walking?

Yes, the Off-road network is useful as these are shared paths typically following waterways, railway lines or through parks or green space.

Walkers, especially dog or bush walkers, will find Google Maps Bicycling layer useful for finding additional Trails adjacent to the major trails mapped here (particularly the unpaved trails with dashed green or brown lines). In Australia, virtually all Trails in the "Bicycling" layer are also for walkers.

In the Points of Interest layer I list selected walking markers of tracks that are either legally for walking only (e.g. Gresswell Hill tracks) or are principally used that way (e.g. Andrews Reserve Walking Trail).

More comprehensive websites specifically listing walking routes are:



How does this map compare to Google Maps Bicycling Layer and Cycling Directions?

Google Maps Bicycling Layer aims to include every "bike lane" (whether in a door zone, shared with parked cars, very narrow, alongside fast traffic), every street marked "Bicycle Friendly" in a bureaucrat's imagination, and every shared path no matter how short or circuitous. Meanwhile it has various gaps and errors and does not minimise redundancy or optimise usefulness.

As there is no human selection of preferred routes, Google Maps' Cycling Directions very rarely show the optimal route.

For example, below is the Google Maps Bicycling Layer for Melbourne - a dense mash of hard-to-differentiate green lines with the best routes always requiring manual investigation.


By comparison, below are the Off-road routes from the Melbourne Bike Grid Map - it's much easier to find useful routes, and, if you know the name of the route you are trying to follow, you can just select it from the A-Z menu.

Melbourne Bike Grid Map - Off-road routes only

And below is the On-road network from the Melbourne Bike Grid Map. The redundancy is stripped out, and only the most preferred, connected and useful streets are included as well as links with the Off-road network.

The On-road network is only 25% complete as it takes a lot of local experience and time to make these selections properly.

Melbourne Bike Grid Map - On-road routes only


What do the different coloured lines represent?

The On-road network uses:
- Aqua blue lines to show preferred routes
- Brown lines to show some necessary but not preferred routes

"Preferred" is relative to the area. So in the inner-north of Melbourne there are many streets not included in the map that are perfectly suitable for cycling. But in outer suburban areas most arterial or useful roads may be bike-unfriendly so "preferred" just means the best available to traverse an area.

The Off-road network uses a variety of colours:
- Various colours (excluding Aqua and Brown) are currently used to differentiate distinct routes
- Dodger Blue is the default colour used by Google Maps when creating routes. I use it for short off-road paths and connectors; typically they have no formal path/trail name.


What is included in the Points of Interest?

In the Points of Interest layer I list:

- Velodromes, Pump Tracks, MTB Trailheads or Parks using the bike symbol

- A few Cafes and Restaurants near bike routes using the coffee cup symbol

- Parks, wetlands and nature reserves using the tree symbol

- Parkrun starting points (free, organised 5km runs/walks) using the running symbol

- Free outdoor gyms, exercise equipment and bouldering walls using the weightlifter symbol

- Free exercise classes such as Live Life Get Active



Why can't individual Mountain Bike tracks be added?

I'm prepared to add popular or very useful unpaved routes that can be traversed without a mountain bike, such as on a bike with wide tyres and decent grip. For example, a main route leading to an MTB Park or Trailhead. Or an unpaved route that is the only way for cyclists to traverse an area.

However, I won't be adding individual MTB tracks as there are much better websites for MTB use:


TrailForks - Melbourne region

I am interested in adding MTB Trailheads I can link to the TrailForks website that are within 30km of Melbourne CBD and have little conflict with walkers or other trail users. Feel free to email me suggestions.


Will all Rail Trails in Victoria be added?

This is primarily a Melbourne-focused bike map and I only selectively add routes or points of interest outside Melbourne. I will be adding the starting point of most of the 40 rail trails and a link to the full rail trail route and info. I also plan to include the routes of all rail trails within 30km of the Melbourne CBD when the correct route data is available.

Full details on all rail trails can be found on:



When to use this map with Google Maps Bicycling layer?

Once using this map, there are two main reasons to use Google Maps Bicycling layer:

(1) To view the comprehensive set of off-road shared paths in the specific area you are in. The Melbourne Bike Grid has the main routes but deliberately doesn't include everything as this makes it too cluttered.

(2) To view on-road options in areas where the Melbourne Bike Grid is not detailed enough.

For example, around Yarra Bend Park there are plenty of circuitous shared paths that are only relevant if you are exploring the area. And many such paths in Google Maps Bicycling layer are only useful if looking for walking trails.

The Melbourne Bike Grid clearly shows the arterial off-road routes and also the connecting on-road network. If and when you need the detail in your specific area you can use Google Maps Bicycling layer.



Why are the Off-road Trails in the Melbourne Bike Grid sometimes different to other maps?

My map is made for usefulness not to keep archivists happy.

For example, every other map of Melbourne's Off-road network charts the Main Yarra Trail all the way to Southbank - confusingly duplicating 14km of the Capital City Trail. Pointless duplication also exists for many other overlapping trails (e.g. Merri Creek, Moonee Ponds, etc)

Likewise, other maps end their Trails where the official end is. I keep going till the furthest useful off-road point which is often kilometres more of exploring or connections.


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