WOMEN simply do not feel comfortable cycling in traffic and are twice as likely to abandon riding or walking journeys than men if they feel unsafe, new research has revealed as Bendigo's council prepares to vote on plans to get people active.
Just 25 per cent of women were comfortable riding in a bike lane, according to City of Greater Bendigo research.
That figure paled in comparison to the less than five per cent of women who felt comfortable riding with traffic.
Counsellors would be asked to vote next week to release a new new draft walking and cycling strategy for public review.
The plan would pave the way for plans to connect far-flung suburbs using bike paths and steer thinking on how to get people out and about at a time when 74 per cent of council survey respondents said they wished they could walk more.
Seventy per cent of women were comfortable riding in a cycle-way partly removed from other traffic and 87.5 per cent were comfortable on a completely separate path shared with pedestrians, the council research showed.
Residents told council researchers they wanted to be separated from cars when riding a bicycle, safe and comfortable road crossings and Bendigo's trail networks connected.
They also said they wanted more support for organised walking groups, more places an opportunities to learn to ride and more information on routes.
The document called for a new 10-year infrastructure plan and a "regional city trail" linking existing urban trails in a continuous 22km loop around Bendigo's middle suburbs.
The trail concept would be similar to one in Melbourne.
The plan also called for a raft of other new cycling and walking routes including those linking Bendigo to Eaglehawk, Huntly, and Maiden Gully.
The council would prioritise improving road crossings they already knew posed challenges for walkers and cyclists, including on trails.
Bendigo already had 12 road underpasses and the plan called for a new design manual, included guidelines to separate traffic and walkers from more intersections and crossings and when to use other strategies like traffic lights.
The manual would also include guidelines for better lighting, seating and electric scooter recharge points and wayfinding along paths.
Councellors should consider releasing the plan for community review at next Wednesday night's council meeting.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.