Cycling Super Highways

Cycling Super Highways is a vision for 7 metre wide 6 lane cycleways completely separated from all parked and moving cars/vehicles 

I was privileged to be awarded the 2008 AITPM Janet Brash Memorial Scholarship.

I used the opportunity to have conversations and  to conduct focus groups with women in Brisbane to find out why the bicycle was the “elephant in the room” and what planners really needed to do to make riding acceptable. I was not surprised with the answers I heard at coffee shops, at my yoga class and at work: women didn’t want to ride because of a lack of dedicated cycle infrastructure. What Brisbane women (as well as men, children, seniors and tourists) wanted was complete separation from parked and moving cars.

Thanks to my scholarship I was lucky enough to be able to take my findings and visit and spend time learning from the world’s most acclaimed ‘cycling cities’ and to see ‘world best practice’  bicycle facilities. I visited Adelaide, Almere, Amsterdam, Bogota, Copenhagen, Delft, Den Haag, Exeter, Groningen, Houten, Ijburg and Steigereiland, Los Angeles, Malmo, Melbourne, Munster, Nijmegen, Odense, Paris, Perth, Rottnest Island and Utrecht.

I found that each city had its own unique network of bikeways, but common themes including: 4.0 metres of ‘usable’ cycling space and complete separation from traffic. All of the cycle routes in all of the cities were designed with cycling in mind — they were direct, quick and traffic free and above all they were beautiful.

Back in Australia, it was clear that we had a problem with width and protection. We had cycle lanes but they were skinny, unprotected, on-road cycle lanes, on busy highways, often less than one metre wide. ‘Normal’ people — women, children, seniors, families, tourists — weren’t riding bikes and so in an attempt to ‘get more people cycling more of the time’, we were building more skinny, unprotected, on-road cycle lanes and not surprisingly the vicious cycle of people not riding was continuing.

According to research 60% of our population are ‘potential’ cyclists; people who want to cycle but are ‘interested but concerned’ and 84% of non-regular bike riders say they would start riding if they could use separated cycleways.

In 2010 I officially launched my Cycling Super Highways concept.

“Why so wide?” people asked. Cycling Super Highways are seven metres wide (3.6 metres of ‘usable cycling space’ in either direction) 6 lane cycleways to allow two cyclists to cycle side by side — because it’s a sociable mode of travel — whilst providing enough space for a faster moving cyclist to overtake a slower moving cyclist. They are wide and segregated so that ‘average, normal, everyday people’will be encouraged to cycle not because they are cyclists but because riding a bicycle is a safest, convenient and enjoyable mode of travel. Finally they are wide so that they are safe enough for everyone to use regardless of their age, physical ability and cycling skills, for example young children with stabilisers cycling to school.

When the Los Angeles Department of Transport said “for the bike to catch on we need a revolution in our bicycle infrastructure” they were right. If we really want cycling to be a central part of our lifestyle, our transport system and our cities we need an ‘infrastructure revolution’


And finally. I did not have the opportunity to meet Janet but I hope that her family are proud of what I have achieved in her honour, and for this reason alone I would really love you to download a copy of my Cycling Super Highways Toolkit.


“Every good product I’ve ever seen is because a group of people cared deeply about making something wonderful that they and their friends wanted. They wanted to use it themselves”  Steve Jobs.

Cycling Super Highways is an independent project conceived and created by Rachel Smith. At the present time it bears no affiliation to any private company or public organisation.



















The AITPM Janet Brash Memorial Scholarship

‘Janet has been an example to all in the profession, in her career and her life’.  Ted Vincent, VicRoads

The Janet Brash Memorial Scholarship has been created to honor the memory of Janet Brash who died in 2007 of breast cancer. Janet joined the Australian Institute of Traffic Planning and Management (AITPM) in 1997 to further her professional development. Janet was one of the AITPM’s strongest and most active supporters who gave her time generously and encouraged others to get involved. In her 10 years membership she was a committee member and President of the Victorian Branch and during 2004, whilst in remission, she was elected as National Vice President. Janet was a strategic thinker, customer focused, tough and tenacious, with a strong sense of justice for what was right and fair. In view of an outstanding professional career and for her magnificent contribution to the institute, the AITPM National Council established a perpetual scholarship in Janet’s name to further excellence in traffic and transport engineering.

For more information please visit