Cairns Cycleway Development Proposals

Cairns Electric Bikes ‘Master Plan’ for Cairns Cycleway Development



Cairns Electric Bikes is a strong advocate for cycle commuting and therefore cycleway development!  Yet CEB is a firm believer that ‘Glorified Footpaths’ are not what is needed if we are to build an effective cycling community.

This is not to say that the efforts around the CBD such as the Mann Street cycleway are not appreciated, because they are.  But it is an efficient system that performs over the major legs is what people care about most.

It is time to take cycleway development seriously if we ever want to support healthier intermodal transport systems.  But what we want to see is a commitment to charter on some major goals that are systematically worked on over a decade that are specifically designed for efficiency and intermodal transport interaction.

In Cairns Electric Bikes shop we are starting to get questions by regular people (not the lycra gang) that go: “We are planning on moving to Cairns.  Which are the most bike friendly places to live in relation to easy cycling into the CBD?”

People don’t want half-hearted efforts and less would be better if means being done properly.  Cyclists can endure the short sections that aren’t as favourable if they know that their major leg is going to be effective.  Efficient ‘high-speed’ cycleways are the answer; smooth cycleways designed to support a steady 40km/h in as straight a line as possible over the major legs.  Remember that:

  • many of these bikes have no suspension systems
  • many of these bikes have little or no pneumatic action
  • non eBikers put in a lot of effort to get up to and maintain speed, so they don’t like stopping!
  • ‘cargo bikes’ are large and heavy so even more of the same…
  • Cyclists have to pedal, so they care about ‘straight line efficiency’ even more than car drivers!
  • cyclists have no roof to protect them from the tropical sun
  • For more such issues, click here

We don’t expect the ‘Master Plan’ to be completed over night, but funding just needs to be regularly committed over two decades.  As development of the master plan increases, the usage will exponentially increase; as the network increases, so will its usefulness and viability.  With the advent of eBikes and their ability to travel further and maintain a steady minimum 27+ km/h, demand will only increase.


The Master Plan

Some cycleways will always be recreation focused and by their nature share both cycle and foot traffic: while their beauty and features will make them a haven for active living, cycle and eco-tourism.

Others will always be about getting from point A to B; either in their efficient high speed forms over the long hauls or suburban connections.

Ultimately we need both and some overlay can be expected.

The following is a wish list from Cairns Electric Bikes Pty. Ltd. as we seek to meet the needs of the Cairns region in both our need for recreation and practicality.  We do not wish to give a complete detail on each one as we will discuss these as individual blogs and or petitions, but the following descriptions are an overview of them.


Beaches Connect Cycleway

Cairns Electric Bikes after dialoguing with hundreds of rental and local customers sees that we need a relatively straight-line cycleway that more-or-less follows the coast line and supports a steady 25-30km/h ride speed; a cycleway that stretches from the northern end of the Cairns to Palm Cove.  This may mean some bridging.

Rental customers are often shocked that there is no systematic way to reach the beaches from the CBD on a bicycle.  Being casual pleasure riders, they don’t want to ride up the side of the highway and be the bottom of the pecking order at the Cook Highway roundabouts.  Commuting customers are little different!

The natural beauty of these locations needs to be remembered and thought of as an extension to the Cairns Esplanade.  So the Palm Cove esplanade will connect and terminate with the Fun Ship Playground; but neither can it be forgotten that it needs to support the commuting needs of Machan’s, Holloways and perhaps Yorkey’s residents and or tourists.  A ‘dog-legged’ path is not going to cut it.

Click here to read more on what we call the Beaches Connect Cycleway and how it will upgrade the now ageing and oddly located ‘Mangrove Boardwalk’ whilst also providing needed intermodal transport to and from the Cairns Airport.


Northern High-Speed Cycleway

This cycleway has two watch words: safety and efficiency.  It is all about getting from point A to B as efficiently as possible to support the commuters, while allowing those ‘lycra gang’ on their blades of carbon a safe place to train.

This cycleway will effectively mirror the Captain Cook Highway between Cairns North and Palm Cove on its eastern edge and must plan for flora shade coverage on both sides as far as is practicable (the major problem is not being rained on, its being burned to a cinder or your cloths being ruined by sun screen).

This will take significant time and planning with the Department of Main Roads, especially in regard to the Barron River Bridge.  But action does need to be taken soon before the land is committed to other purposes and the long time it takes to deal with ‘DMR’ and their 10 year forward planning.

Interaction with the already unused sections of cane train lines north of Yorkey’s Knob, provides a great way to feed traffic from the population hearts of Smithfield, Trinity Park, Trinity Beach etc.

Click here to read more on the Northern High-Speed Cycleway.


Southern High-Speed Cycleway

This cycleway is different from the existing ‘Southern Cycleway’.  Like its northern kin its purpose again is the same: safety and efficiency.  It is all about getting from point A to B over the long haul as efficiently as possible to support the commuters, while allowing those ‘lycra gang’ on their blades of carbon a safe place to train.

Yet unlike the ‘Northern High-Speed Cycleway’ it need not follow the Bruce Highway, but probably would be better served more-or-less mirroring the existing main train line (not to be confused with the cane train lines).

This line if followed could lead customers from Cairns Central Shopping Centre to Gordonvale.  It is proposed that a fence be constructed beside the train line and concrete poured just as in many other places in the country.

This major commuting leg would provide excellent long traffic free stretches that would appeal to the commuters and tri-athletes alike.  Again, tree planting for shade is needed as far as is practicable.

Read more on the Southern High-Speed Cycleway here.


Southern Cycleway

While this cycleway already exists, it needs extension as the only population base it actually has is Portsmith!

The southern Cycleway is semi-defunct in the way it terminates as it was originally designed to interact with Department of Main Roads planned but reneged high speed cycleway leaving Cairns Regional Council to try and make something useful out of it.  To this end we praise them for the new section passing under the Mulgrave road Gordon Creek Bridge.

But while it is now much safer for cyclists, its entry/exit location leaves it semi ineffective.  To this end Cairns Electric Bikes Pty. Ltd. has solicited the Council receiving a favourable response from the Active Living department (paraphrased):

“We hadn’t thought of your suggestion before, but it makes sense and we like it.  There are just some hurdles we have to cross.”  – very early 2017

Cairns Electric Bikes Pty. Ltd. proposes that the cycleway is extended from its current Mulgrave Road terminus to connect with the base of the Ivan Evans walk (top of Bayview Heights).

We believe that in time this quality cycleway will interact with the now cane train lines to provide connections thought the population hearts of Woree, Bayview, Forrest Gardens, Mt. Sheridan (and shopping centre), Bentley Park, Timberlea, and Edmonton.  Similarly it could on the same principle interact with a cycleway all the way north through Earlville, Balaclava etc.

Read more here as we are actively pursuing a three stage development plan for this cycleway extension currently.

Sign the petition here


Western Ridge Cycleway

This is an audacious move that is cycle / eco-tourism friendly and recreation focused fuelling active living in our community.

This cycleway in time will absorb some of the now proposed Southern Cycleway Extensions and continue from the base of the Ivan Evans walk on Ellen Close (top of Bayview Heights) and create a 25km/h cycleway connecting to Lake Morris Road (stage 1) and then down the ridge into the Redlynch Valley to connect with the cycleways there (stage 3).

The completed track would create an effective loop from the CBD, through Woree, Bayview, down the Redlynch Valley and back to town through Freshwater, Stratford etc.  driving the booming international cycle tourism industry.  We do not need to detail all the possible things customers can do or see on this ring here.

In its second stage, it will involve the construction of two other downhill MTB tracks of varying grades to complement the existing Waddlebla track and create an MTB haven that is more accessible than Smithfield and virtually a straight line 8-9km to the Cairns Esplanade!  As a home to the UCI World Cup MTB, this would further qualify us as one of the world’s greatest mountain bike destinations.


Great Barrier Reef Cycleway

This cycleway as an idea while original to Cairns Electric Bikes Pty. Ltd., apparently has been around as a concept a lot longer.

We envisage a tourism-focused cycleway heading up the hillsides of Buchan’s Point to take in the views of the reef and extend all the way to Craiglie (Port Douglas) along the higher edges of the Macalister Range.

Certain viewing platforms/lookouts would make this a cycle tourist must ride.  We do recommend a midway campground at Wangetti / White Cliff which will naturally interact with Hartley’s Creek via that unused road.

Eventually this track would need to be concreted, but for now it can simply be a dirt trail.  It will also help with fire control.


Intermodal Bus Stops

This is a relatively low cost project that should increase the usage of bus stops quite significantly increasing their notional catchment area by a factor of about 4 times and as such the potential for more direct bus routes exists.

An intermodal bus stop is a regular bus stop with an undercover bike rack and a security camera.  Without the latter people on nicer bikes will never lock their pride and joy up to take a bus.

It is the belief of Cairns Electric Bikes that some of these are needed at certain locations to increase bus ridership and intermodal transport.



These are all really good ideas and wonderful projects.  We all know that there isn’t an unlimited cheque book.

Ultimately there are only two reasons to pursue these projects:

  1. Income: As these provide better cycle / eco-tourism options there will ultimately be people who come for this. Logically again the amount would increase somewhat exponentially as the compounding effects of more cycleways work their magic.  But in all seriousness, tourism is the only thing keeping the city afloat: therefore we need to invest in making the most out of our assets.
  2. Personal: Ultimately these are facilities built for the locals’ use (which is what cycle tourists want to see anyway).  We are providing a better lifestyle and commuting options for our citizens and community.  We increasing public health and happiness; we are reducing our environmental footprint; while placing significant downward pressure on the cost of living by providing viable cheaper transport solutions.


But it is the author’s personal conviction that these two reasons married to create a viable reason to complete the projects within the decade.  But I also believe there to be further logic even more compelling:

  1. We know the country is rapidly sliding into extreme debt. It won’t be long before we are talking about >60% GDP debt with GDP growth propped up by mass immigration.  Social Security Payments will have passed 80% of all ATO tax payments by now.  Based on the data from Kevin Rudd’s time, 10-15 years will see us in the same situation as Greece meanwhile everyone sticks their head in the sand and says: “It’s his fault.”  The government will be forced to cut back on the social security payments that are keeping everything turning when the IMF debt wolves encircle.  As the economy really tightens, the demand for viable cycleways will have exponentially increased for all three reasons.  It’s time start preparing while also improving our chances of securing income.

Let’s make the decision to start working earnestly toward these projects, but systematically.  For Cairns, these make a lot of sense.  There is also a fourth reason related to the third:

  1. Low impact – Yes, it does cost money to build a cycleway once more than 60% of the costs are ‘paperwork’. Providing the cycleways see sufficient usage to warrant the mowing, it should be pretty good.

So let’s improve our lives in happiness, safety and efficiency.  Then with a little determined effort over the next ten years, we should have improved our intermodal transport network, our footprint, our viability as a destination and have made a little money.