This video from the blog "Amsterdamize" (It's 100% lycra free-guaranteed!) features a cold, wintry day in Amsterdam, but despite this there are plenty of cycle commuters on the streets. I've chosen this video because it shows what is possible for cyclists in a big, busy, cramped city as long as your council is prepared to put money in infrastructure. Imagine if all those people were sitting in their car, or were using public transport. Both roads and public transport providers wouldn't be able to cope!
You can see the cyclists move around on the bike lanes that are separated from the pedestrians (if you look at the sheer amount of cyclists you understand why!) but also separated from the cars. Cycling is popular because a reasonably safe environment has been created for them. One can easily commute from A to B, for work, school, shopping, visiting friends... Cycling is cheap, The Netherlands is flat and there are 400km of dedicated cycle lanes in and around the entire city. No helmet is required, (wish it was the same here..) and it keeps you fit.
This video also gives you a good insight in bicycle parking facilities for a city that big. There is the famous multi-story bicycle parking (Fietsflat): built a few years ago as a temporary facility to hold 2500 bikes while work progresses on a permanent garage to hold 10,000 bikes. In fact, its estimated that there are often 4000 bikes crammed in to the “fietsflat”. Parking your bike here is free and its usually filled by mid-morning.
And finally look for the special bicycle crossing light: it counts down the seconds to a green light....
As I was born in Amsterdam myself and lived there a few years ago happily riding my bike, I can see the possibilities for Melbourne (or any other city for that matter!). It will never become a second Amsterdam (doesn't have to) but wouldn't it be great to get around from A to B on a bicycle in beautiful Melbourne on dedicated bike lanes away from cars and pedestrians?
(You can click through to some more videos by the same author negotiating Amsterdam on his push-bike)