Where do you feel safe on your bike in Ballarat?
It's a straightforward question the Amy Gillett Foundation is asking as it launches its BikeSpot mapping project for 2020, expanding it outside of Melbourne for the first time.
The crowd-sourced survey, available online, asks people - including pedestrians and drivers - to point out on a map where they feel safe and unsafe on a bike, or around bike riders.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? HAVE YOUR SAY BELOW
In 2016, the survey was held in Melbourne, and Amy Gillett Foundation chief executive Dan Kneipp said it was successful in bringing several parties to the table, including users groups and local governments, to improve rider safety.
The Amy Gillett Foundation is named after a champion cyclist who was struck by a motor vehicle and killed while on a training ride in 2006, and advocates for lifesaving changes to protect anyone on a bike.
Mr Kneipp said Ballarat was a good example of an expanding regional city that could benefit from the data.
"If we can get a lot of data (from road users), it creates an opportunity to talk to councils and governments about why (there are concerns)," he said.
"Hopefully that can lead to safer cycling infrastructure.
"At the moment, about 6000 Australians are getting injured or suffering a life changing injury every year, and there's about 40 deaths, and most are from vehicles hitting cyclists."
A separate initiative is the Bicycle Network's Four Photos project, which aims to track four locations in major cities to see how cycling infrastructure is changing.
THE BICYCLE NETWORK'S FOUR PHOTOS IN BALLARAT
In Ballarat, they chose Sturt Street in the CBD, Lydiard Street at the train station, Lake Wendouree, and the Yarrowee Trail at Grant Street.
In a statement, Bicycle Network chief executive Craig Richards said it was about encouraging "healthy, sustainable transport" as Ballarat grows.
"Over time we'll be able to track the progress at each location and see what improvements have been made," he said.
"Government investment in bike riding in Ballarat is needed and these photos help paint a picture of just how important better places to ride are."
The projects were welcomed by the Ballarat Bicycle Users Group's Matt Briody.
"If you want good advice on where to ride, it pays to ask a local," he said.
"We often give advice to riders and clubs who are planning to travel to Ballarat.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Cyclists unimpressed with Ballarat's cycling infrastructure
"Crowdsourcing can be a much more fine-grained way of providing that data."
He also pushed for simple improvements to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
"Pedestrian lights should illuminate automatically at every traffic light change, particularly at busy intersections and on priority cycling routes," he said.
"From a design point of view, it's ludicrous that if you miss the change by a second, you have to wait for the next cycle to cross safely.
"We strongly encourage Regional Roads Victoria to make the necessary changes."
"We know that finding a safe place to ride can be a big barrier to people taking up cycling, and anything that makes that process easier is a good thing."
That's echoed by Mr Kneipp, who encouraged regular riders to think about their normal routes and what works, and what doesn't, to help casual riders.
"Research shows there's an enormous number of people who don't cycle because they don't feel it's safe enough," he said.
"It has a lot of benefits for physical and mental health, and environmental benefits."
The state government has committed millions to improving cycling infrastructure in Ballarat, including a separate centre median bike lane down the Regional Roads Victoria-controlled end of Sturt Street.
Similarly, the City of Ballarat has released a bicycle transport strategy, as part of its integrated transport plan.
The Amy Gillett Foundation An Bicycle Network projects have begun as more people take up cycling to stay fit during the coronavirus pandemic, as encouraged by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.
Mr Kneipp said many countries had seen a "huge" uptake in cycling as a safe way to get exercise.
"Last week, DHHS advised people to walk or cycle wherever possible," he said.
"A lot of people are avoiding public transport, carpooling, and ridesharing - in that sense Victoria is similar to other countries."
The Bicycle Network also encouraged people to get on the bike safely, but cautioned riders to avoid groups of people to stay within new social distancing laws.
A webpage includes frequently asked questions about cycling during the crisis.
Mr Briody said it was good advice at any time.
"Obviously people need to stay at home as and when required, but with the reduced traffic on our roads it's an excellent time to be on a bike," he said.
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