A new cycling advocacy group - CycleSafe - Mt Alexander - has been formed in the Castlemaine region to give local cyclists a voice.
The group aims to work for improvements across the shire to boost cycling safety for all in a bid to encourage more families and individuals to feel confident about hopping on their bikes and leaving the car at home.
The group was formed following a push last year to improve cyclist access to local V/Line services after several cyclists were knocked back from train services to Bendigo and Melbourne.
Transport Minister Jacinta Allan got behind the push stating bikes were welcome on trains and it was a "yes - unless there was a really good reason a bike couldn't be accommodated on a service" which has sparked positive change.
Some of those involved in the campaign realised there were many more areas where improvements could be made to boost cycling.
The group aims to work with VicRoads, V/Line, VicTrack and Mount Alexander Shire Council to offer local knowledge, research and insights.
Group member Greg Waddell said the group had already had a couple of wins with VicRoads recently undertaking clean up works on the bike lane on the Pyrenees Highway near the Chewton Servo and also undertaking improvements to potholes in the bike lane on the Duke Street bridge at the entrance to Castlemaine.
"We made contact with VicRoads about our concerns and they have been very proactive in responding to these issues. We are very grateful for their support and we are sure local cyclists who use these bike lanes will feel a lot safer," he said.
The group has also had a meeting with Mount Alexander Shire CEO Darren Fuzzard and senior staff.
Mr Waddell said there were some really positive things happening in the region as far as cycling was concerned, with the recent opening of the Castlemaine-Maldon Rail Trail, the existing Campbells Creek and Forest Creek trails and plans for the Mount Bike Park at Mount Alexander, but work needed to be done to provide safe connections to these networks through the Castlemaine CBD.
"At a bicycle conference I recently attended in Melbourne, they revealed the results of a study which indicated eight per cent of people are confident cyclists, 32 per cent won't ride, and 60 per cent would like to ride but don't feel safe," he said.
"We aim to concentrate on the 60 per cent of riders who are interested in riding but don't feel safe, which focuses primarily on school-aged children and families. Thus improving safe cycle access to local schools is also one of our objectives," he said.
"We will also focus on connecting a safe network to strategic points such as the railway station, library, botanical gardens, parks, sporting facilities - such as the Wesley Hill Junior Sporting Complex, and tourist spots.
"We will represent the eyes and ears of cyclists to collect valuable information about safety and cycling issues and provide a central point to disseminate information to them via our blog - cyclesafesite.wordpress.com - which will come online shortly," Mr Waddell said.