Let's Make 'Cycle Park 'n' Ride' a Real Issue in the Coming SA Elections!

For the past 4 or 5 years the State Government has been slowly rolling out secure bike parking enclosures or ‘cages’ at selected rail stations and interchanges. These enclosures are accessed via Metro card (with a $10 annual surcharge) and offer much enhanced bicycle storage and personal security for commuting cyclists. So they are a valuable complement to bike parking ‘hoops’ and the blue bike lockers we’re all familiar with The problem is that:

  • there aren’t enough of them
  • the current design only accommodates 16 bikes and…
  • they are being rolled out extremely slowly !

The cages have been slowly appearing at select stations for a number of years. Currently their 11 locations are:

  • Adelaide Airport
  • Elizabeth Station
  • Gawler Station
  • Hallett Cove Beach Station
  • Klemzig Interchange
  • Mount Barker Dumas Street Park 'n' Ride
  • Noarlunga Interchange
  • Paradise Interchange
  • Seaford Station
  • Seaford Meadows Station
  • Tea Tree Plaza Interchange.

However there are on the Adelaide metro rail network as well as 27 public transport interchanges and of course all of the tram stops! While a little progress with installation of new cages seems to be made each year, annual funding for Car Park ‘n’ Ride facilities (for those driving to rail stations) vastly outweighs that allocated to Cycle Park ‘n’ Ride with 65% of rail stations still having:

  • no bike parking hoops
  • no secure cages
  • no bike lockers!

If this inequity continues then clearly we have a long, long way to go before the roll-out of these ‘smart cages’ (or other bike parking options) can start to make a real difference in encouraging commuters to step away from the car!

Based on its 2017 report, the Adelaide Cycle Park ‘n’ Ride Survey Group offers the following comments and observations:

  • ‘There are insufficient numbers of cages and hoops being installed to run an associated culture change program. Such a program would inform people of the existence of Cycle Park n Ride infrastructure how to access it, and its benefits. Cycle Park ‘n’ Ride sometimes remains under-utilised as a result with ensuing argument that ‘there isn't much demand for Cycle Park ‘n’ Ride, so why rush to install them across the network?’.
  • ‘Accessing Cycle Park ‘n’ Ride secure cages requires an annual trip to Adelaide Station to have your Adelaide Metro card programmed at a cost of $10. The cages cost $30,000 to install with space inside for 16 cycles. So one Cycle Park ‘n’ Ride place in a cage costs $1875. On average, a DPTI car park space in a Car Park ‘n’ Ride facility costs $10,000. Those who drive and use public transport are not required to register their Metro card (or travel into the central rail station to do so) and they pay nothing for the privilege of parking anyway. Yet the government and DPTI continue to roll out very expensive Car Park ‘n’ Ride places.‘

The Survey Group go on to propose ‘we feel that if there is to be no provision for people to register for Cycle Park ‘n’ Ride on-line or in widely distributed card-programming machines, an alternative strategy is needed. To get some modal shift away from driving and towards cycling, it makes good economic and political sense to pay people who cycle and want to access cages at least $10 per annum when they visit the station to have their Adelaide Metro card programmed! You can pay to get 1000 people using Cycle ‘n’ Ride for the cost of one DPTI installed car park. Good economics, very effective promotion and excellent goodwill!’

The reality of course is that even if 10 or even 20 additional cages appeared immediately after the next election, there would still be many tram stops and train stations without any secure Cycle Park ‘n’ Ride infrastructure. It seems that our Government just does not understand that bike security is just as important for cycling commuters as secure cark parking is for Car Park ‘n’ Ride users!

Compare their relative situations - apart from Emmerson Station, you can park a car for free at all trains stations and tram stops. There is nothing like this available for bicycle users! It is imperative that DPTI install at least 5 bike parking hoops at all bus and tram stops and train stations in one ‘big hit’ with appropriate public promotion. Huge efforts have been made to promote Park ‘n’ Ride for car drivers and next to nothing for Cycle Park ‘n’ Ride – it’s time this situation changed!

Over 2017-18 another $15 million has been allocated for Car Park ‘n’ Ride, adding to the $110 million already spent over the last few years. If the Weatherill government has any serious intentions for to their Carbon Neutral Adelaide policy or the revised 30 Year Plan, how about simply reallocating $5.5 of this Co2-generating car park money to boost Cycle Park ‘n’ Ride with an appropriate media and culture change program.

In a recent letter to Minister Mullighan, the Cycle Park ‘n’ Ride Survey Group made the following recommendations:

‘There is an additional $15 million in the 2017-2018 South Australian budget now for car Park n Ride (Budget Papers Page 24). $5.5million simply needs to be moved from car Park n Ride to Cycle Park n Ride. This is a simple project and will appeal to voters in electorates which have tram stops, train stations and Obahn interchanges’.

The Survey Group stated that ‘$5.5 million - according to the business case developed - will establish at least 5 hoops at all bus stops and rail stations and would cover current proposals for new cages as well as $500,000 for media and culture change programs.’

The Survey Group strongly recommends that all Bicycle User Groups and cycle advocates write to their local MPs demanding that this re-allocation occur as a matter of urgency.

Sam Powrie,

Secretary, PortBUG.


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SA Labor have an impressive record reducing CO2 emissions through facilitating great increases in renewable energy. Their election policy announcements about the virtual power station as well as pumped hydro also look good to me.

But SA Labor under Premier Weatherill don’t have any kind of good record in meeting active transport aspirations. 2016 Census data on Journey to Work shows the proportion of people catching buses and trains to work has declined since the last Census while proportionally car travel has increased. South Australia now has the highest proportion of all states for journeys to work by car (80%).

And in addition to that The National Cycling Participation Survey (2017 page 4) shows that ‘between 2010 and 2016 South Australia experienced a statistically significant decrease in cycling participation over the six-year period’.

So under Premier Weatherill in SA since 2011 the number of people cycling and the proportion taking public transport is down, and car use is proportionally up and up significantly. This is despite the SA Government’s 30 Year Plan (2017) which states

The Plan aims to encourage active transport (i.e. walking, cycling and public transport) as important everyday modes of travel and as key parts of our urban transport systems.

Getting more people walking, cycling and using public transport will result in:

  • increased capacity and reduced congestion in the transport network
  • reduced environmental impacts
  • improved public health
  • reduced healthcare costs
  • improved community wellbeing and social cohesion.

If the Weatherill government spends $125 million on free car park n ride at stops and stations and provides and slowly installs a short list of unpublicised cycle cages (at $10 pa to use) and very few hoops, it’s no wonder cars remain overwhelmingly the chosen mobility option, even to get to public transport. So much for the intention of the 30 Year Plan and Carbon Neutral Adelaide statements.

Peter Lumb

Great article Sam.

I am one of the Survey Group and delighted that you have found our report worthwhile. My only comment at this stage is that we thought that cages may not be justified at all stations/stops, but hoops certainly are.  We would also like to see hoops covered by a shelter as is the case in many European countries as it respects the desire of cyclists to protect their precious bicycles from the weather. Such shelters can be simple designs and are inexpensive.  Our estimate of providing hoops at all stations/stops was $5.5 million and included that cost of covering all hoops.  We included some illustrations in our report I recall. 

Our proposed budget also foreshadowed a program of cultural change and awareness raising to ensure that existing and potential cycle park n ride users participate in a process of collaboration between DPTI and local governments as has occurred recently with the City of Charles Sturt in the review of the Greenway cycle path.  Safe routes to stations, good signposting, lighting and other facilities such as repair tools at stations will encourage more users. Such a process requires DPTI to commence engagement with all local governments where there are stations/stops throughout Adelaide to jointly plan for and design facilities at as well as improving cycle routes to them. We consulted several local governments who expressed a willingness to be involved in such a process.

Wendy Bell 

Sure Dave - I wasn't suggesting that $10 p.a wasn't indeed good value at all! Just pointing to the utter inequities that bicycle users have to deal with and some possible ways forward. Interesting idea for online payment! Sam.

Sam, Dave,

Equity is important but as important for me is government getting good value for money for taxpayers.  Providing free car parking at just about every tram stop and train station at an average cost of $10 000, is not the best priority when hoops can be installed for $300 close-by or cages for $30 000. i would have thought universal installation of cycle park and ride infrastructure would be the first priority on the basis of value for money for taxpayers. Given the many statements in the 30 Year Plan (2017) about increasing public transport and reducing car use, DPTI/SA Government has odd priorities about connecting people to public transport.

BTW I think there are only 2 pay car park n rides - Entertainment Centre and TTP, and Entertainment usually each day indicates at least 300 vacancies on the digital read out at the entrance.

Here's some quality (!!) DPTI cycle park n ride at Oaklands Park (where there are 265 free car parks).Oaklands%20cycle%20IMAG4080.jpg

Sorry to be a bit of a damp squib on this one Sam, but I’m not convinced that bike parking would be a particularly high priority issue to run for the election. It’s not likely to convince anyone to cycle who isn’t already riding. Nor is it an issue that would change the votes of cyclists (or non-cyclists for that matter). To my mind bike parking is a second order issue, and not one to waste scarce political capital on. There are plenty of poorly sited and empty bike racks around, and plenty of posts, poles and fences that bikes can be locked to. When such places become festooned with locked bikes, or there are bikes lying around untidily, the authorities should take the cue and start providing formal bike parking. What’s more, it would be clear where parking was needed and where it wasn’t.

What an extravagant waste of taxpayer's money. $54 000 per car park. This is barely believable.

Minister Mullighan has announced additional car parking for 350 cars at a cost of $19 million. This is an average of $54,285 each park! I'm assuming these will be free car parks, and that land in the Torrens River Valley will be appropriated for parking. Most cars will arrive with one person for the Obahn. It will take an awful long time to recoup the cost of car parks through additional Obahn fares. This really is an extravagant waste of taxpayer’s money. Two cycles can be parked at one $300 hoop, and 16 cycles in a $30 000 cage ($1875 each). What’s best value - an extra passenger at $150, at $1875 or at $54 285?

For $5 million Minister Mullighan could have hoops at every train station and tram stop as well as cages at many. Currently there is no cycle park n ride at 65% of stations and 54% of tram stops. If hoops and cages were rolled out over a short period half a million could be spent advertising cycle park n ride across the network and explaining the benefits and processes for using a cage. I am absolutely certain that the pent-up demand for cycling would get a lot more than 350 additional passengers onto public transport, and the investment would be recouped over 3-4 years.

The Government and DPTI have endless statements in policy documents about reducing car use, increasing public transport, walking and cycling. Here's one example from Operation Moving Traffic. Trouble is, on the ground it is all about promoting high cost congestion and car use, and not low-cost walking and cycling to connect people to public transport, with attendant health benefits.

Operation Moving Traffic aligns with DPTI’s active travel policies and programs, which encourage less reliance on car use and promotes a shift to alternatives such as walking, cycling and public transport, contributing to a significant increase in the capacity and efficiency of the transport network, and leading to better community health and reduced health care costs (2016 p7).

SA Labor has overseen a decline in cycling in SA over the last 6 years and an increase in journeys to work by car. So much rhetoric…




Sam, I agree with your comments on park & ride carparking. It is an extremely inefficient way of using space and generating public transport customers. It simply does not scale in any location with even moderate land values. It is a perfect illustration of the economic futility of our dependence on cars. See Donald Shoup’s seminal book “The high cost of free parking”.

However, low density, car dependant cities are what we have in Australia, and I see a certain amount of park and ride being necessary, especially at the extremities of cities where land is cheapest anyway. Elsewhere, I personally can’t see more than a token amount of park and ride being built, and that is not likely to be free for long. $19m for 350 car spaces is perhaps a cheap way to learn this lesson.

I see park and ride being essentially a way of introducing public transport to a car-obsessed nation. Once people experience having to walk through massive parking craters built around otherwise efficient train stations, they will realise the benefits of cycling to a more convenient bike park, living within walking distance, or arriving there by local bus services.

Hi Bill,

I'm not arguing with (car) Park 'n Ride - just with the utter inequities inherent in the Gov'ts spending! 


Plenty of parking at Oaklands (32 spaces in these racks).  The only problem is that they moved the station away from the bike parking.  (Although the station might return to its old location with the nearby grade-separation project.)


I know it's just an anecdote, but when my wife (who rides a bike every 1-2 years typically) had to go to the city recently, she asked me if there was anywhere to lock a bike at our local station (it's about 2km away), as the car park is usually full after about 8am.  I said you could probably lock it to the railings (there's no parking other than lockers), so she drove. 

I think the ridiculously low cost of cycle hoops is well worth while if it gives potential cyclists somewhere to park that they know is there for the purpose.  It can also be used to keep cycle parking neat and tidy, and keep it in view of passers-by or CCTV.


I'd be keen to ask your wife why she only rides once every year or two. Is a hoop at the station going to change her mind? I'm guessing she's like my wife and has other reasons for not riding more often. Safety and fear of traffic being a major one.

Bill, your wife’s concern is valid and that’s why the Cycle Park n Ride Group proposed to the Minister that the program of installing bike parking includes a community awareness exercise and be done in collaboration with local governments who are responsible for safe cycle routes to stations. There are Councils waiting to be involved with DIPTI but there is no strategy in place to achieve this. We will keep pushing for it. A network of well signposted and lit bike lane, lighting and signage at stations and engagement of adjoining shops etc to provide informal surveillance are just some of the ways more will be encouraged to cycle to stations.


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