Two days after enjoying a ride along the River Torrens, I was out there again. This time Jane joined me. And this time we headed for the beach. Henley Beach.

Leaving Treadly Bike Shop late morning on the cutely-coloured Brompton hire bikes, we rode over to the southeast corner of the CBD and fuelled up at a small Vietnamese cafe I’d seen while out walking earlier in the week.

Ready to explore, we joined the River Torrens Linear Park near the Adelaide Zoo and rode west. In this direction, the Torrens wriggles around bends and elbows for about ten kilometres before making a final two kilometre dash for the open waters of the Gulf St. Vincent at West Beach.

Pelicans and fisherman. Brown waters rushing. White horses whipped by the wind. A fat cat lazily sunning itself amongst the dune grasses. Salty air and clean concrete paths for walking and riding beachside. Boardwalks and jetties and sculptures made from weathered timbers. People enjoying them. Us too.

Here are some moving pictures of our treadly time along the Torrens:

A couple of footnotes:

  • On the day we rode this trail, parts of the usual pathway were under construction and we were redirected (via excellent signage) through the industry-laden streets of Thebarton. Being able to stay on the riverside trail all the way in the future will be more relaxing.
  • ‘303 By The Sea’ is a pleasant place for lunch at Henley Beach. They also make cinnamon scrolls 😋 but we were too late and they’d sold out 🙁

[This post is the third in a series of stories from my visit to Adelaide during spring.]

Four days had passed since I’d ridden a bicycle and my feet were getting tired from walking everywhere. Adelaide City is good for walking. The terrain is flat, a feature that also makes it good for cycling. When I first arrived, I hired the Adelaide Free Bikes but, with plans to explore the city’s impressive cycleways, I wanted to ride something that I felt more comfortable on.

Hire bikes come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the best hire bikes I’ve experienced have been those hired from a bike shop. Visiting Gothenburg in 2016, we enjoyed relatively new hybrid bikes hired from a bike shop owner who carefully adjusted each bike for a comfortable fit. They were a pleasure to ride. Visiting Adelaide, I found Treadly Bike Shop and guess what they had for hire? Brompton folding bikes!

I booked a half-day hire via Treadly’s bike hire website for AU$25. The booking process was easy and the website gave good information about the bicycles and places to ride around Adelaide. Treadly’s hire bikes are Brompton M3L models which feature dynamo lights, mudguards, bell, an easily adjustable seat height and the capacity to fold up. Treadly also add a slim front carrier bag, a combination lock, a cool Nutcase™ Metroride Helmet and helpful maps.

For my half-day hire, I decided to ride along the River Torrens. The brown narrow river meanders slowly from the Adelaide hills in the east, through the flat plains of Adelaide city and meets the salty waters of the Gulf St. Vincent. Along its banks runs the River Torrens Linear Park Trail. Until my visit to Adelaide, I’d never heard of linear parks. Researching the term, I learnt they are parks that are longer than they are wide, typically urban and might also be called greenways, parkways, or wildlife corridors.

The River Torrens Linear Park Trail

The River Torrens Linear Park was not only the first linear park developed in Australia, it is also the continent’s largest hills to coast park. From Atheltone in the eastern foothills, the River Torrens Linear Park Trail travels 46.5kms to West Beach.  After meeting the river near the Adelaide Zoo, I rode east for about 11kms (if you’re familiar with Adelaide, that took me as far as Darley Road).

Under warm spring sunshine, the bluest of skies, and canopies of river gums, I rode happily, easily and safely along the river’s reedy banks. Occasionally I’d come across some areas under reconstruction which, as I later found out from Treadly Bike Shopowner Sam, was the aftermath of a string of severe storms that struck the city twelve months earlier, producing a state-wide power outage.

At one point I heard a sound that I didn’t recognise. It was unfamiliar. Mechanical like a train yet different. As I rode on, the trail veered away from the riverbank and mirrored a strange road with concrete tracks. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. The sound became louder and then a bus whizzed seamlessly along the tracks. I’d just seen the O-Bahn Busway in action. No traffic to contend with. Express!

After turning around at the Paradise Busway Interchange near Darley Road, I meandered with the river again and came across an interesting community. Lochiel Park is an experimental development with the ambition of creating a ‘green’ village on fifteen hectares. The development is recognised by Josh Byrne (ABC TV Gardening Australia presenter) as a star performer for sustainable lifestyles. Sixty percent of the land is shared green space and the remainder houses 106 dwellings built to exceed the norm in energy and water efficiency. I saw a community garden, water ponds, streetscape sculptures and encouraging path markers for the Lochiel Loop that said ‘woosh!!’ and ‘push!!’ as I rode along.

Returning to Adelaide City, I met bicycle commuters on their way home from work. There were trail-runners padding along too and kids enjoying the playgrounds that dot the linear park. A chocolate milkshake, rowing boats resting and the day closing, I finished my first ride along the Torrens. In two days time, I’d explore some more.

To be continued…

[This post is the second in a series of stories from my visit to Adelaide.]

Treadly Brompton Hire on Adelaide Linear Park Trail

Good signage along the River Torrens Linear Park Trail.

Treadly Brompton Hire on Adelaide Linear Park Trail

River crossing

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A bus whizzing along the concrete tracks of the O-Bahn Busway.

Lochiel Park streetscape

Lochiel Park streetscape

Lochiel Park Community Garden

Lochiel Park Community Garden

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Lochiel Park signage gave commuting times for walking, cycling or catching a bus as an encouragement to not use the car.

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About to ride under Albert Bridge built in 1878.

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The view from my chocolate milkshake 🙂

Strava Map Torrens to Hills

A map of my ride of 28.1 kms with very few hills

 

Adelaide Free Bikes

Riding Adelaide Free Bikes on Park Lands Trail

The idea of Free Bikes has an appealing ring to it. Who wouldn’t take a second glance at seeing something they like on offer for free? On a recent visit to Adelaide, without my own bike to ride, I decided to see how this worked.

Adelaide sits on Australia’s southern coastline with a desert to the north and vineyards lining its eastern hills. It is Australia’s fifth most populated city and, like Melbourne, it was settled by Europeans as a colony for free settlers, not as a penal colony like Sydney and Brisbane.

The city rests on the Adelaide Plains beside the River Torrens. Together, the flat terrain and the meandering river, bring easy opportunities for riding. But geography alone won’t make a city good for bike riding. Pathways, bicycle lanes, clear signage and bridges result from organisations – be they government, not-for-profit or corporate – caring about cycling and thinking about how they can create opportunities for people to cycle.

Visiting Adelaide, I was in awe of the integrated network of cycleways throughout the city and beyond. An organisation keenly invested in bringing this together is Bicycle SA, the state’s independent advocate for commuter and recreational cyclists. One of their initiatives is Adelaide Free Bikes, a bike share scheme that gives free access to bicycles.

I’ve written about my experiences with bike share schemes operating in Oslo and Brisbane. Such schemes are growing in popularity as cities attempt to loosen the noose of motor vehicles choking them daily. Each scheme varies in how they function. Both Oslo and Brisbane use a docking system where a fleet of bicycles are ‘docked’ in bike stations throughout the city.  In Adelaide, the Free Bikes are typically stationed inside a business, council or tourist building.

These locations house the bikes and, to hire one, you have to provide a valid driver’s licence or passport or Australian proof of age card to an employee at that hire location. After signing paperwork, you can then take a bike and helmet and ride away. You must return the bike that same day during daylight hours to the same hire location and before they close their doors. This is where the system requires a little planning. I found the need to return to the same location more restrictive than a docking system. Also, my selection of a hire location was complicated by each having different days and hours of operation.

I like the idea of Adelaide Free Bikes but the bikes I saw and rode needed maintenance to run well (and a good clean). I also found the helmets provided were very tired. The scheme has been running since 2005. As a famous economist once said, ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’. Someone has to pay for this free service and I wonder if charging a small fee would help ensure the equipment on offer stays in good condition. But then maybe I’m just particular about having clean, smooth running bikes and other people wouldn’t be bothered by these things. After all, I did see quite a few people riding the share bikes.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that Adelaide Free Bikes is playing a positive part in a broader and impressive bicycle strategy for this wonderful city.

[This is the first in a series of stories from my visit to Adelaide.]

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Available Free Bikes outside a backpacker hostel.

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Freewheeling on one of Adelaide’s many park trails.

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