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Canberra leads the nation on cycling participation in 2017

By Anne Treasure - 20 June 2017 8

The National Cycling Participation Survey for 2017 was released this week, showing that the ACT leads the nation with higher participation rates than any other place in Australia.

103,000 Canberrans ride a bike every week, meaning that just over a quarter of us are getting out on our bikes regularly. In comparison, just 15.5% of people ride weekly Australia-wide.

The 2017 Austroads survey results show that 3.47 million Australians ride a bike every week. When the last survey was taken in 2015, 4 million Australians rode once a week – a marked decline.

In the ACT, our cycling participation numbers are steady. More men than women ride bicycles regularly, indicating that we have work to do in order to make our cycling infrastructure safe and welcoming for women and families.

The good news is that cycling participation rates are highest in the ACT among the under-10 demographic. 57% of Canberran children are out on their bicycles regularly, compared to 47% Australia-wide. Participation drops as children move into their teens and twenties, indicating that there is work to do to make cycling a lifelong interest.

The survey did indicate that there may be a slight increase in teenagers riding bikes since 2013 – particularly teenage girls. The proportion of males who ride is higher across all age groups, but a jump in the number of young women riding bikes is a movement that we should actively encourage.

Making it easier for people to use their bikes for transport is one way that we can encourage all Canberrans to ride more often. The survey indicates that the biggest barrier to people riding for transport in the ACT is that people perceive the distance to be too far.

One way to address this problem is to fix the missing links in our bike path network, to allow people to ride a more direct route to where they need to go. The number one action that people want the ACT Government to take is to build more off-road paths for bike riding.

The survey shows that 43% of Canberrans used a bike for transport in the last month – significantly more than the national average of 31%.

While the ACT figures are better than the national average, we must not be complacent. Our cycling participation rates have remained steady, but they have not risen. Fewer people began riding (2% in 2017 from 8% in 2015). Canberrans who are already riding are continuing to do so, but we are not attracting new bike riders with the existing bike-riding infrastructure and environment.

In order for the ACT community to fully realise all the benefits of being the best place in Australia to ride a bike, we need to get more of our population riding regularly.

With preventative health being a strong focus of our current government, now is the time to encourage more people in Canberra to ride bikes. The Heart Foundation says that 63% of the adult population of Canberra is overweight or obese. Increasing the number of people in Canberra who get out of their cars and on to their bikes for transport will directly address this problem.

More investment in cycling infrastructure and promotion will allow more people to ride bikes, and help Canberra become not just the cycling capital, but also Australia’s healthiest city.

Given these results, what do you think the Government could do to increase cycling participation in the ACT?

Anne Treasure is the Communications Manager for Pedal Power ACT. She writes on bike riding in the ACT from the perspective of a Canberran who mostly rides for transport. 

What’s Your opinion?


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8 Responses to
Canberra leads the nation on cycling participation in 2017
1
Elias Hallaj 9:11 pm
20 Jun 17
#

Canberra is cycling heaven. I think the ACT Government already does a lot to promote cycling and build cycling routes and paths and maintain them, a massive amount of work for a relatively small jurisdiction. I think building on our existing strengths and promoting cycling more amongst young people and families is probably the best way forward. Some of the new shared bike schemes being talked about recently will probably help with commuters too.

2
Maya123 11:04 pm
20 Jun 17
#

Elias Hallaj said :

Canberra is cycling heaven. I think the ACT Government already does a lot to promote cycling and build cycling routes and paths and maintain them, a massive amount of work for a relatively small jurisdiction. I think building on our existing strengths and promoting cycling more amongst young people and families is probably the best way forward. Some of the new shared bike schemes being talked about recently will probably help with commuters too.

A problem is that many paths are never maintained. They are built with great fanfare and then ignored. Meanwhile nearby roads in better condition than the path get resurfaced, while the shared path is unlikely to.

3
dungfungus 9:02 am
21 Jun 17
#

I don’t think you are telling the full story despite the national survey concluding that participation in bicycle riding is declining.

While waiting (in a car) at traffic lights at Mawson Drive and Athlon Drive last week I observed the secure bicycle compound at the “park and ride” on the same corner. This was at 2.00 pm.
There was one solitary bike in it.

Observing many ACTION busses circulating around Canberra lately I have failed to see one bike being carried on the busses fitted with those very expensive front racks.

I regularly drive along the Monaro Highway from Isabella Drive to Fyshwick and despite a marked bicycle lane being there both ways it is rare to sight even one cyclist a day.

Overriding all this is the fact that many people are not in a position to use bikes because of age, disabilities and the geography of where they live.

It’s very patronising to suggest that obese people should get out of their cars and onto their bikes, too.

I think your organisation has done very well so far but have you ever considered that it may be time to consolidate on what you have achieved?

4
dungfungus 11:16 am
21 Jun 17
#

Canberra appears to be the only capital city that doesn’t have these so why doesn’t Pedal Power set it up and run it?

https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/bike-sharing-launch-sydney-010501683.html

Could be a good little earner as well as providing a community service.

5
Anne Treasure 8:58 am
22 Jun 17
#

dungfungus said :

I don’t think you are telling the full story despite the national survey concluding that participation in bicycle riding is declining.

While waiting (in a car) at traffic lights at Mawson Drive and Athlon Drive last week I observed the secure bicycle compound at the “park and ride” on the same corner. This was at 2.00 pm.
There was one solitary bike in it.

Observing many ACTION busses circulating around Canberra lately I have failed to see one bike being carried on the busses fitted with those very expensive front racks.

I regularly drive along the Monaro Highway from Isabella Drive to Fyshwick and despite a marked bicycle lane being there both ways it is rare to sight even one cyclist a day.

Overriding all this is the fact that many people are not in a position to use bikes because of age, disabilities and the geography of where they live.

It’s very patronising to suggest that obese people should get out of their cars and onto their bikes, too.

I think your organisation has done very well so far but have you ever considered that it may be time to consolidate on what you have achieved?

Our mandate is to get more people riding bikes, more often – for a better community. So no, we still have work to do to make it easier for more people to ride bikes in the ACT – including the disabled and aged (do you know about the Cycling Without Age program?). We’re also working on advocating for better connections to make geography less of a problem, and I think as e-bikes become more popular that will prove less of an issue for a lot of people.

On your bike share suggestion, we’re currently in discussion with a number of stakeholders about a potential program starting in the ACT. We are not the experts on bike share programs, but we are talking to people who are!

Thanks for once again showing so much interest in bike riding in the ACT, Dung.

6
Anne Treasure 9:02 am
22 Jun 17
#

Maya123 said :

Elias Hallaj said :

Canberra is cycling heaven. I think the ACT Government already does a lot to promote cycling and build cycling routes and paths and maintain them, a massive amount of work for a relatively small jurisdiction. I think building on our existing strengths and promoting cycling more amongst young people and families is probably the best way forward. Some of the new shared bike schemes being talked about recently will probably help with commuters too.

A problem is that many paths are never maintained. They are built with great fanfare and then ignored. Meanwhile nearby roads in better condition than the path get resurfaced, while the shared path is unlikely to.

Yes, I agree – and so does the ACT Auditor General, if the latest report on the state of paths in the ACT is anything to go by. The ACT Government does do a good job on cycling (much better than state and federal govts!) but we still have a way to go before we can claim to be ‘cycling heaven’ (thanks Elias!).

7
CanberraStreets 9:12 am
22 Jun 17
#

dungfungus said :

Canberra appears to be the only capital city that doesn’t have these so why doesn’t Pedal Power set it up and run it?

https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/bike-sharing-launch-sydney-010501683.html

Could be a good little earner as well as providing a community service.

I am aware of 7 –
http://newacton.com.au/place/newacton-bike-hire/ ; and
– the six stations run by http://www.spinwaycanberra.com.au/

8
dungfungus 4:44 pm
22 Jun 17
#

CanberraStreets said :

dungfungus said :

Canberra appears to be the only capital city that doesn’t have these so why doesn’t Pedal Power set it up and run it?

https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/bike-sharing-launch-sydney-010501683.html

Could be a good little earner as well as providing a community service.

I am aware of 7 –
http://newacton.com.au/place/newacton-bike-hire/ ; and
– the six stations run by http://www.spinwaycanberra.com.au/

The spinnaway website suggests they are in constant communication with Pedal Power but that doesn’t seem to be reflected by Anne’s comments on this thread.

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