The COVID pandemic has brought with it many negative repercussions, but there have been some positives and one of those is the increasing numbers of people of all ages riding bikes in the Parramatta area and beyond.
Local bike shops and repairers reported a roaring trade in bike sales and repairs during the lockdown period, and as the effects of the pandemic lessen, there’s still plenty of people riding bikes. And there’s been new riders of all types – family groups, commuters, road warriors, leisure riders, and more.
Within the Parramatta area there are many great places for all those groups to enjoy time on a bike. The top three most popular would undoubtedly be the Parramatta Valley Cycleway, Parramatta Park, and Sydney Olympic Park.
Ride the Parramatta Valley Cycleway
The Parramatta Valley Cycleway is a 15-kilometre-long path shared by cyclists and pedestrians that follows the Parramatta River. Cyclists can ride the relatively flat route from Morrison Bay Park in Ryde through the Ermington Nature Reserve and along the River foreshore to the Parramatta CBD.
The Cycleway follows the River providing some pleasant outlooks, heritage buildings and nature reserves. From Morrison Bay Park in Ryde, the path heads west along a combination of dedicated bike paths, quiet streets and the river foreshore. Riders can continue to Parramatta CBD or Parramatta Park or explore the connection to Sydney Olympic Park via the Silverwater Bridge.
The cycle route is constantly being improved. Currently under construction is the Escarpment Boardwalk, a river-level pedestrian and cyclist connection which will deliver a missing link in the Parramatta Valley Cycleway. It will allow riders to stay on the northern banks of the river near the Parramatta CBD. Construction is expected to be completed in early 2021.
Parramatta Park with great riding and heritage
The Parramatta Valley Cycleway leads to the very popular cycling destination of Parramatta Park which is full of heritage items and nature highlights.
The 3.2 km loop cycle lane and shared paths are suitable for cyclists of all levels. The loop follows the road around the park with a dedicated cycling lane between the pedestrian and vehicle lane. The road is undulating which makes it a great place for road bike riders to pace it out, but also great for more leisurely riders who want to take in the sites.
The Park has a rich history and the humble bicycle is a great way to explore it. First gazetted as a ‘People’s Park’ in 1858, it has a rich Aboriginal history playing a vital role in the lives of the Darug people, the traditional custodians. Parramatta (known as Burramatta) is one of the earliest sites of ancient Aboriginal occupation in Sydney, dating back 39,000 years.
Historic sites to take in on a leisurely bike ride include Old Government House and the Dairy Cottage, as well as the Boer War Memorial, The Crescent and the Parramatta River.
For less-experienced riders and kids, there’s a 600-metre path on Long Avenue that is separated from the internal road and only accessible by authorised vehicles.
Sydney Olympic Park – the home of the Olympic Games
One of the many legacies of the Sydney Olympic Games 20 years ago is the 35 kilometres of cycleways for bike riding within Sydney Olympic Park which are ideal for cyclists of all skill levels. The Park Authority has mapped out several circuits that are suitable for different levels of rider. Most are close to other facilities such as playgrounds, picnic areas, drinking stations and toilets. The circuits take in Olympic Games venues, bird habitat, heritage areas like Newington Armory, lakes, and great views.
Sydney Olympic Park has plenty of cafes and restaurants to make a quick stop for a coffee or even a meal.
The roads within Sydney Olympic Park also have many on-road cycle lanes for those who prefer to ride on the road, with a number of well used, relatively flat circuits.
Other places to ride
As well as the top three there are a range of other bike paths and on-road cycle lanes, plus plenty of quiet streets. The City of Parramatta Council has produced a cycling map that you can collect from the Parramatta Heritage and Visitor Information Centre or local bike shops. You can also download a copy here.
On the map, you’ll find the Parramatta Heritage ride which is a great way to learn about Parramatta’s amazing history. And if you don’t want to navigate your own way you can join a group ride with Parramatta Heritage Rides, a group that runs regular bike tours.
Cycleway Finder is also a helpful website.
Who else can help?
There are several bikes shops in the Parramatta area including several in the CBD. They sell and service bikes and can also provide advice about great places to ride in the area.
Based in the Parramatta CBD is an organisation called Addventageous that provides affordable and accessible cycling programs and services to lots of different types of riders. Founder Charlene Bordley and her team run regular rides, teach people to ride, and even has a bike repair workshop onsite.
Nicola Rutzou is the founder of Women Who Cycle, a blog dedicated to getting more women into cycling. You can read more about her love of Parramatta's cycling tracks here.