With good conditions – both weather and traffic – my morning ride on a Sunday in Sydney became a journey of discovery. I went west, with a quest to get to the M7 cycleway…

This is part one of my story, riding from the city to Parramatta.


– Story and video by Rob Arnold 



No ride is the same but over the years I’ve ridden around Sydney so much that it does, at times, feel a little repetitive. Although my routes are generally random there is also logic to the direction selection. Often I say that it depends on which way the wind is blowing and while this does factor into the decision of where to go, the biggest influence on my destinations relates to the vibe of traffic.

There have been days when I’m full of motivation as I begin to roll but the mood can fade quickly in a city that is, only now, beginning to embrace the cycling culture. But this story is not about frustrations with motorists and the battle to find some space on our roads. Instead, as you’ll discover if you click ‘play’ and watch the video above, this #StoryOfMyRide – from Sydney to Parramatta – is about the joy that can come from cycling… and trying something new.

Simply by aiming in a different direction to usual, I discovered some great places for cycling in Sydney.

Benefits for everyone

Sydney is a beautiful city but it can also be a challenging place to ride a bike. The good news, I believe, is that things are changing. Not only are some councils proactively attempting to create a cycling infrastructure, they are promoting the activity in the hope of making this city a little more liveable.

Of course there are many other benefits that come from bike riding. The ‘one-less-car’ concept isn’t new, but it’s not always easy to convince people to try something that has long had a reputation for being dangerous, especially in a busy city like Sydney. Still, the notion is sound and even something that works in favour of the steadfast motorist who insists the car is the only way to travel.

If one person gets on a bike instead of in a car, that’s… yep, one less car on the road. And in Sydney, where roads often fill with traffic and drivers go slower than cyclists, it frees up space and – in theory at least – creates a better flow.

For the bike rider, the benefits are plentiful. When conditions are good, commuting can turn from a frustrating experience to one with joy and exercise. It can also be quicker.

Writing all this on a cycling media site seems somewhat redundant. If you’re reading this, chances are you understand the advantages of riding rather than driving. But Sydney is a big city and it’s not always possible to use a bike instead of a car to get where you want to go and there will always be reasons to opt to drive rather than ride.

That said, cycling in Sydney is getting easier and safer, it is also gaining greater acceptance. Things are improving. Cycling is a viable option to move around the city for many, even those who may have resisted the temptation for years because of a fear of what could happen in a place that has a reputation for being a nasty place to ride.

Over the years, I’ve experienced a considerable mix of emotions while riding a bike in Sydney. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, it’s easy to get swept up in negative sentiment – as I’ve often done when complaining about the stop-start nature of cycling infrastructure.

Bike paths are becoming more common but they are not always connected; it can be a mix of encouragement and discouragement in the space of a few kilometres.

One moment you’re on a path that’s free of cars, the next you’re stuck at an intersection with no hint of where to go without having to mix it with motorists on a busy road.

In a city like Sydney, with councils often clashing over all kinds of priorities – from building approvals to bike paths, and much more – it’s not easy to get a cohesive sequence of safe conditions to go where you want.

Furthermore, not all spaces on the road are controlled by one entity. Even if councils have the desire to create a sensible bike path that serves the community well there needs to be approval from Transport for NSW – or other body – to keep the flow going at some sections of the road network.

So, although the theory of building something practical that benefits many is correct, it’s not always easily achieved. But attitudes are changing and progress is being made. Cycling in Sydney is, in my appraisal, getting better every day.

Go west…!

My journey out west last Sunday morning provided a chance to document what it’s like on the roads of Sydney when traffic is sparse and conditions are clear.

With high spirits, perfect weather, and all the time I wanted to go for a ride, I set off in a different direction to usual. Instead of going north or south, I turned west and it became a showcase experience of what it’s like to ride a bike when the vibe of traffic is good.

It was an absolute pleasure to pedal from the city to Parramatta. It took a little over an hour and included many stops and a few surprises along the way.

The wonderful sight of schools of yellowtail kingfish trawling the bay for prawns at Rhodes was a happy coincidence, a by-product of a quest to go west until I reached the M7 cycleway.

Leaving the city behind, I rode over the ANZAC Bridge and the Ironcove Bridge (well, the cycleway on the southern side of what was once a treacherous road for cyclists). I enjoyed traffic-free roads pedalling past Canada Bay and through Concord. And I arrived at Rhodes to see the fish jumping near McIlwaine Park.

After watching the seagulls squawk and carry on, hovering above the kingfish, onwards I rode… through the tunnel under the train tracks and west towards the Homebush Bay Corso where another school of fish was at play with the prawns.

All the way I was safe from traffic. Unhindered by motorists or even traffic lights, I rode with a smile and saw things I never expected. It was a simple pleasure but it made my day. What was already a good mood was improving.

This is what it can be like to ride a bike when conditions are good. It was scenic and joyful, relaxing and rewarding.

Cyclists everywhere understand the benefits, and they know where and how to ride and – even if it may at times require a compromise on direction for the sake of safety – when you get to your destination, you’ve done more than just go from point-A to point-B.

If all goes like it did for me on my way out west on Sunday, cycling in a city like Sydney is a great way to spend the day.

I got to Parramatta with ease and little effort. It was largely flat and particularly scenic in places. The bike paths often trace the shoreline, even hovering over the mangroves at times. There are riders and runners all around, greetings are exchanged, and the prevailing mood seems upbeat, happy even.

After the roll along the riverside path, a few laps of Parramatta Park, a coffee and croissant, it was time to continue my journey west. Onwards I would ride, past Toongabbie and Blacktown and eventually join up with the M7 cycleway. That second stanza of this trip is the theme of what will be part two of my ‘Go West (From Sydney)’ series. And I’m pleased to report that the mood remained good, and the vibe was right for a great day on the bike.

It was something different: some fun time doing what I love in a new location. I’m a little more familiar with what cycling opportunities exists out west now, and the experience was only positive. I’ll be riding back out that way again sometime soon, and I can only hope that it will be as enjoyable as it was when I took a different direction on a Sunday morning ride from Sydney.



– By Rob Arnold


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Go West: Part 2 – To the M7 Cycleway