Cities Safe Enough for Travel by Bicycle

PhD Completion Seminar - Warwick Pattinson

Japanese Room, Level 4, MSD Building

A comparative case study; exploring meanings, influences and lessons


There are wide ranging benefits for people in cities when travel by bicycle is a safe and mainstream choice. This thesis explores how to foster development of a city safe enough for travel by bicycle, through a comparative case study of Inner Melbourne, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen. The framework for exploration integrates the detailed ‘safe system’ approach from road safety, with a broader public health policy framework for change that considers the Content (measures), differences in historic and policy Context, and the local decision-making Processes that influence safety. It uses mixed methods that include: secondary data analysis, interviews with key informants, document analysis and observations.

Safety, this thesis finds, can be understood as a multi-factored construct, co-produced by governments and road users. In Inner Melbourne, given the comparatively low level of safety, restricting riding for transport is rational. The Victorian State and Federal governments have prioritized motorised mobility, with the State relying on a punitive approach to reduce rider injuries, leaving the primary safety of riders to the riders themselves and local governments. By contrast, in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, priority attention has been given to promoting sustainable transport, putting the safety needs of vulnerable road users above the mobility needs of people protected by motor vehicles.


Warwick Pattinson is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, The University of Melbourne. His research interests include the social and technical aspects of transport and land use that influence city sustainability. Prior to commencing the PhD, he worked for over 40 years as a transport planner and on transport policy. He has diplomas in Civil Engineering and Management (RMIT), Psychotherapy (SPIA), and a Master of Science degree from Purdue University, USA.


Assoc. Prof. Russell Thomson


Dr John Stone

Advisory Committee

  • Dr John Stone
  • Assoc. Prof. Russell Thomson
  • Mr Alistair Cumming