In the process of preparing this blog I spend a lot of time playing with maps. Actually I'm a map geek, I can read maps till the cows come home.
There are several map options nowdays but I use google maps and it has a very useful feature that all cyclists will find useful. If you the mouse on the button on the right of the map marked "traffic" you get a dropdown list that includes Bicycling. If you click on that, you get highlighted on your map Bike trails, Bike lanes and Bicycle friendly streets. Which I presume means quiet streets. Most of the rides I have written about here were found this way. Zooming out to a wide view of Sydney and looking for the green lines.
These google marked cycle ways arent all exactly what they say however. One notable exception is the path around the headland south of Cronulla. Looking on the map I thought "bewdy!" A path above the ocean, near cafes, fish and chips and great swimming spots. When we rocked up with the bikes the first thing we saw was big signs saying "no bikes". Its easy to see why, such a beautiful spot brings a lot of people and it would be quite hard to ride along this path on a weekend. Especially when it is above a five metre cliff, an inexperienced young rider may find themselves in a dangerous spot.
Finding routes in areas where cyclepaths are limited can be daunting but some basic tips- usually near train lines there are streets that are quieter for traffic, sometimes one way and discontinuous for cars.
Councils will often signpost bicycle routes through a suburb, so keep an eye out for the little white and blue signs. These routes can be convoluted, but are usually fairly safe.