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Fewer Canberrans are riding to work in 2017, and that’s a problem

By Anne Treasure - 22 March 2017 25

Cordon-count-Civic-2014-CMYK

If you were traveling in or out of Civic on Tuesday the 7th of March you may have noticed people stationed around the city paying close attention to the people riding past them on bikes.

The annual ACT bike count has taken place every March since 2004.

Other states in Australia promote their bike counts ahead of time as ‘Super Tuesday’, encouraging people to participate regardless of whether they would usually cycle.

ACT bike count data is accurate, rigorous and useful to inform transport planning. The numbers are reflective of actual commuter cycling uptake and show who isn’t riding as much as who is.

Women made up only 30.7% of commuter bike riders this year. This cannot be attributed to any one reason, but it does indicate that if we want more people to use bikes for transport, we need to make riding more viable for women.

Since 2012 bike count data has been used by the ACT Government to inform planning for transport and infrastructure programs.

An initial review of the data collected by Pedal Power ACT on behalf of the ACT government during this year’s count in Civic shows that numbers have been dropping for the past couple of years. The number of people riding into Civic during the morning count is trending downwards 2.1% per year on average, over the past three years.

The downward trend is partly attributable to new housing in Civic. But with our population set to grow to 421,000 by 2020, we need stronger action on making riding for transport appealing to more Canberrans.

Part of the problem with getting more people – particularly women and children – to use active methods of travel is due to safety concerns. Research indicates building separated riding facilities is a proven method of getting more people onto a bicycle and reducing traffic and parking congestion.

114,000 people ride a bike in Canberra every month. Canberra has some of the highest cycling participation numbers in Australia, but most of us see cycling as a recreational or sporting activity rather than transport. Only 2.9% of those 114,000 bike riders use their bikes to get to work.

The ACT Government’s Active Travel Office has launched two initiatives aimed at getting more Canberrans riding to work in 2017, with the first Park and Pedal location in Australia at the Arboretum, and Canberra Walk and Ride Week.

A new program called Cycle Works is set to launch at the conclusion of Canberra Walk and Ride Week, which will encourage Canberrans to continue with the good habits they started.

Sign up and ride to work during April 2017, and work riding into your life. For your own good, and for the benefit of the entire ACT.

Anne Treasure is the Communications Manager for Pedal Power ACT. She writes on bike riding in the ACT from the perspective of a lapsed bicycle rider who should be cycling more. 

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25 Responses to
Fewer Canberrans are riding to work in 2017, and that’s a problem
1
dungfungus 9:08 am
22 Mar 17
#

Even after spending all that money on projects exclusively for cyclists?

2
rommeldog56 10:48 am
22 Mar 17
#

Despite the ongoing outlay of multi millions of Ratepayers $ on cycling infrastructure, that is not good news.

I use the cycle path from Gowrie/Fadden Pines to Lake Tuggeranong (and enployment centres there) twice daily (weather permitting). It is a heavily used shared path. I must say, that I sometimes think twice about riding my bike on that path or driving/getting the bus. Why ?

Its because the path is in such a poor state of repair, that in places, its dangerous particularly when cyclists have to swerve to miss obstructions. There are holes in the asphalt, tree roots have dangerously raised the asphalt from underneath creating long stretches of a extremely bumpy surface, there are many weeds growing through the asphalt (which will lead to additional and more expensive repairs into the future), tree branches overhang the path obstructing vision and there is at least one part where a crack in the asphalt is so large, it just about swallows a bike tyre ! In parts, the shared path around Lake Tuggeranong can certainly use some maintenance and repair too.

Two approaches to the ACT Govt to maintain this heavily used shared path have not been acknowledged let alone responded to. Then I look at my absurdly rapidly increasing Annual Rates year on year……..

From my perspective, maintenance of shared paths in good/safe condition is essential to encourage their use and perhaps thats why to some extent, riding to work using the safer shared path option) might be dropping off.

3
dungfungus 11:29 am
22 Mar 17
#

rommeldog56 said :

Despite the ongoing outlay of multi millions of Ratepayers $ on cycling infrastructure, that is not good news.

I use the cycle path from Gowrie/Fadden Pines to Lake Tuggeranong (and enployment centres there) twice daily (weather permitting). It is a heavily used shared path. I must say, that I sometimes think twice about riding my bike on that path or driving/getting the bus. Why ?

Its because the path is in such a poor state of repair, that in places, its dangerous particularly when cyclists have to swerve to miss obstructions. There are holes in the asphalt, tree roots have dangerously raised the asphalt from underneath creating long stretches of a extremely bumpy surface, there are many weeds growing through the asphalt (which will lead to additional and more expensive repairs into the future), tree branches overhang the path obstructing vision and there is at least one part where a crack in the asphalt is so large, it just about swallows a bike tyre ! In parts, the shared path around Lake Tuggeranong can certainly use some maintenance and repair too.

Two approaches to the ACT Govt to maintain this heavily used shared path have not been acknowledged let alone responded to. Then I look at my absurdly rapidly increasing Annual Rates year on year……..

From my perspective, maintenance of shared paths in good/safe condition is essential to encourage their use and perhaps thats why to some extent, riding to work using the safer shared path option) might be dropping off.

Apparently, Petal Power is only concerned about what is happening in Civic and trendy locations like the Arboretum.

I note the ACT Government has also funded the Cycle Works program. It’s a bottomless pit.

As for your comment on the lack of maintenence work to benefit cyclists using shared paths in Tuggeranong, there has been a token effort made to acknowledge cyclists by creating random cycling lanes on Coyne Street (adjacent to Fadden Pines). The “lanes” were painted in at the same time those useless speed humps were created in the same street.
Yet I drive that street at least twice a day and I have never yet seen a cyclist using those lanes. Very rarely are cyclists seen using the dedicated lanes on the Monaro Highway either.

4
Maya123 12:33 pm
22 Mar 17
#

dungfungus said :

rommeldog56 said :

Despite the ongoing outlay of multi millions of Ratepayers $ on cycling infrastructure, that is not good news.

I use the cycle path from Gowrie/Fadden Pines to Lake Tuggeranong (and enployment centres there) twice daily (weather permitting). It is a heavily used shared path. I must say, that I sometimes think twice about riding my bike on that path or driving/getting the bus. Why ?

Its because the path is in such a poor state of repair, that in places, its dangerous particularly when cyclists have to swerve to miss obstructions. There are holes in the asphalt, tree roots have dangerously raised the asphalt from underneath creating long stretches of a extremely bumpy surface, there are many weeds growing through the asphalt (which will lead to additional and more expensive repairs into the future), tree branches overhang the path obstructing vision and there is at least one part where a crack in the asphalt is so large, it just about swallows a bike tyre ! In parts, the shared path around Lake Tuggeranong can certainly use some maintenance and repair too.

Two approaches to the ACT Govt to maintain this heavily used shared path have not been acknowledged let alone responded to. Then I look at my absurdly rapidly increasing Annual Rates year on year……..

From my perspective, maintenance of shared paths in good/safe condition is essential to encourage their use and perhaps thats why to some extent, riding to work using the safer shared path option) might be dropping off.

Apparently, Petal Power is only concerned about what is happening in Civic and trendy locations like the Arboretum.

I note the ACT Government has also funded the Cycle Works program. It’s a bottomless pit.

As for your comment on the lack of maintenence work to benefit cyclists using shared paths in Tuggeranong, there has been a token effort made to acknowledge cyclists by creating random cycling lanes on Coyne Street (adjacent to Fadden Pines). The “lanes” were painted in at the same time those useless speed humps were created in the same street.
Yet I drive that street at least twice a day and I have never yet seen a cyclist using those lanes. Very rarely are cyclists seen using the dedicated lanes on the Monaro Highway either.

The last time I rode in the Arboretum, most of it was rough dirt tracks; some of it muddy. Lots of reaching blackberries too. The main road in also had no separate bike lane, so what are you referring to?

5
bikhet 1:27 pm
22 Mar 17
#

What appears at first glance to be another simplistic survey presenting results that actually result from a complex situation. To take as an example the comment that:

“An initial review of the data collected by Pedal Power ACT on behalf of the ACT government during this year’s count in Civic shows that numbers have been dropping for the past couple of years. The number of people riding into Civic during the morning count is trending downwards 2.1% per year on average, over the past three years.

The downward trend is partly attributable to new housing in Civic. But with our population set to grow to 421,000 by 2020, we need stronger action on making riding for transport appealing to more Canberrans.”

A couple of other possibilities that do not imply a reduction in the numbers cycling to work:

1) that the routes people are now using to cycle to work are now different from those they used in previous years and so are not being counted in the survey.

2) that people who cycle to work are now working in areas other than Civic and so are not being counted in the survey.

It may be that the survey controls for these factors and for others that might affect its accuracy – the weather for example – but there is no way for the reader to tell.

6
dungfungus 2:38 pm
22 Mar 17
#

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

rommeldog56 said :

Despite the ongoing outlay of multi millions of Ratepayers $ on cycling infrastructure, that is not good news.

I use the cycle path from Gowrie/Fadden Pines to Lake Tuggeranong (and enployment centres there) twice daily (weather permitting). It is a heavily used shared path. I must say, that I sometimes think twice about riding my bike on that path or driving/getting the bus. Why ?

Its because the path is in such a poor state of repair, that in places, its dangerous particularly when cyclists have to swerve to miss obstructions. There are holes in the asphalt, tree roots have dangerously raised the asphalt from underneath creating long stretches of a extremely bumpy surface, there are many weeds growing through the asphalt (which will lead to additional and more expensive repairs into the future), tree branches overhang the path obstructing vision and there is at least one part where a crack in the asphalt is so large, it just about swallows a bike tyre ! In parts, the shared path around Lake Tuggeranong can certainly use some maintenance and repair too.

Two approaches to the ACT Govt to maintain this heavily used shared path have not been acknowledged let alone responded to. Then I look at my absurdly rapidly increasing Annual Rates year on year……..

From my perspective, maintenance of shared paths in good/safe condition is essential to encourage their use and perhaps thats why to some extent, riding to work using the safer shared path option) might be dropping off.

Apparently, Petal Power is only concerned about what is happening in Civic and trendy locations like the Arboretum.

I note the ACT Government has also funded the Cycle Works program. It’s a bottomless pit.

As for your comment on the lack of maintenence work to benefit cyclists using shared paths in Tuggeranong, there has been a token effort made to acknowledge cyclists by creating random cycling lanes on Coyne Street (adjacent to Fadden Pines). The “lanes” were painted in at the same time those useless speed humps were created in the same street.
Yet I drive that street at least twice a day and I have never yet seen a cyclist using those lanes. Very rarely are cyclists seen using the dedicated lanes on the Monaro Highway either.

The last time I rode in the Arboretum, most of it was rough dirt tracks; some of it muddy. Lots of reaching blackberries too. The main road in also had no separate bike lane, so what are you referring to?

I was referring to the bike paths in Tuggeranong. The clue was Coyne Street (next to Fadden Pines). The main road was the Monaro Highway, hello?

7
dungfungus 2:49 pm
22 Mar 17
#

bikhet said :

What appears at first glance to be another simplistic survey presenting results that actually result from a complex situation. To take as an example the comment that:

“An initial review of the data collected by Pedal Power ACT on behalf of the ACT government during this year’s count in Civic shows that numbers have been dropping for the past couple of years. The number of people riding into Civic during the morning count is trending downwards 2.1% per year on average, over the past three years.

The downward trend is partly attributable to new housing in Civic. But with our population set to grow to 421,000 by 2020, we need stronger action on making riding for transport appealing to more Canberrans.”

A couple of other possibilities that do not imply a reduction in the numbers cycling to work:

1) that the routes people are now using to cycle to work are now different from those they used in previous years and so are not being counted in the survey.

2) that people who cycle to work are now working in areas other than Civic and so are not being counted in the survey.

It may be that the survey controls for these factors and for others that might affect its accuracy – the weather for example – but there is no way for the reader to tell.

How much money does Pedal Power get paid for collecting this date for the ACT government?

8
Maya123 3:23 pm
22 Mar 17
#

dungfungus said :

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

rommeldog56 said :

Despite the ongoing outlay of multi millions of Ratepayers $ on cycling infrastructure, that is not good news.

I use the cycle path from Gowrie/Fadden Pines to Lake Tuggeranong (and enployment centres there) twice daily (weather permitting). It is a heavily used shared path. I must say, that I sometimes think twice about riding my bike on that path or driving/getting the bus. Why ?

Its because the path is in such a poor state of repair, that in places, its dangerous particularly when cyclists have to swerve to miss obstructions. There are holes in the asphalt, tree roots have dangerously raised the asphalt from underneath creating long stretches of a extremely bumpy surface, there are many weeds growing through the asphalt (which will lead to additional and more expensive repairs into the future), tree branches overhang the path obstructing vision and there is at least one part where a crack in the asphalt is so large, it just about swallows a bike tyre ! In parts, the shared path around Lake Tuggeranong can certainly use some maintenance and repair too.

Two approaches to the ACT Govt to maintain this heavily used shared path have not been acknowledged let alone responded to. Then I look at my absurdly rapidly increasing Annual Rates year on year……..

From my perspective, maintenance of shared paths in good/safe condition is essential to encourage their use and perhaps thats why to some extent, riding to work using the safer shared path option) might be dropping off.

Apparently, Petal Power is only concerned about what is happening in Civic and trendy locations like the Arboretum.

I note the ACT Government has also funded the Cycle Works program. It’s a bottomless pit.

As for your comment on the lack of maintenence work to benefit cyclists using shared paths in Tuggeranong, there has been a token effort made to acknowledge cyclists by creating random cycling lanes on Coyne Street (adjacent to Fadden Pines). The “lanes” were painted in at the same time those useless speed humps were created in the same street.
Yet I drive that street at least twice a day and I have never yet seen a cyclist using those lanes. Very rarely are cyclists seen using the dedicated lanes on the Monaro Highway either.

The last time I rode in the Arboretum, most of it was rough dirt tracks; some of it muddy. Lots of reaching blackberries too. The main road in also had no separate bike lane, so what are you referring to?

I was referring to the bike paths in Tuggeranong. The clue was Coyne Street (next to Fadden Pines). The main road was the Monaro Highway, hello?

Your words: “Apparently, Petal Power is only concerned about what is happening in Civic and trendy locations like the Arboretum.”

9
Maya123 3:43 pm
22 Mar 17
#

Re dungfungus’ comments about Pedal Power.

You must remember that the members who lobby for better cycling facilities are volunteers, who don’t get paid and do this work in their own time (often on top of full time jobs). They try to represent the members. However, it is always easier to comment on an area if they know it, so it would be natural that with their limited, unpaid time, that they would gravitate to issues in areas that they know better. They are volunteers; they are not paid workers who can be told what to do. They do this job in good will.

If someone thinks their area is not getting enough support, the answer is simple. Obviously the issues of that area are familiar to you, so you volunteer and join the unpaid workers and then you can research and bring up issues that you are familiar with. It is always better to have someone who knows the area.

I am not a member of any PP committee. But I am aware how voluntary organisations work.

10
dungfungus 5:22 pm
22 Mar 17
#

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

Maya123 said :

dungfungus said :

rommeldog56 said :

Despite the ongoing outlay of multi millions of Ratepayers $ on cycling infrastructure, that is not good news.

I use the cycle path from Gowrie/Fadden Pines to Lake Tuggeranong (and enployment centres there) twice daily (weather permitting). It is a heavily used shared path. I must say, that I sometimes think twice about riding my bike on that path or driving/getting the bus. Why ?

Its because the path is in such a poor state of repair, that in places, its dangerous particularly when cyclists have to swerve to miss obstructions. There are holes in the asphalt, tree roots have dangerously raised the asphalt from underneath creating long stretches of a extremely bumpy surface, there are many weeds growing through the asphalt (which will lead to additional and more expensive repairs into the future), tree branches overhang the path obstructing vision and there is at least one part where a crack in the asphalt is so large, it just about swallows a bike tyre ! In parts, the shared path around Lake Tuggeranong can certainly use some maintenance and repair too.

Two approaches to the ACT Govt to maintain this heavily used shared path have not been acknowledged let alone responded to. Then I look at my absurdly rapidly increasing Annual Rates year on year……..

From my perspective, maintenance of shared paths in good/safe condition is essential to encourage their use and perhaps thats why to some extent, riding to work using the safer shared path option) might be dropping off.

Apparently, Petal Power is only concerned about what is happening in Civic and trendy locations like the Arboretum.

I note the ACT Government has also funded the Cycle Works program. It’s a bottomless pit.

As for your comment on the lack of maintenence work to benefit cyclists using shared paths in Tuggeranong, there has been a token effort made to acknowledge cyclists by creating random cycling lanes on Coyne Street (adjacent to Fadden Pines). The “lanes” were painted in at the same time those useless speed humps were created in the same street.
Yet I drive that street at least twice a day and I have never yet seen a cyclist using those lanes. Very rarely are cyclists seen using the dedicated lanes on the Monaro Highway either.

The last time I rode in the Arboretum, most of it was rough dirt tracks; some of it muddy. Lots of reaching blackberries too. The main road in also had no separate bike lane, so what are you referring to?

I was referring to the bike paths in Tuggeranong. The clue was Coyne Street (next to Fadden Pines). The main road was the Monaro Highway, hello?

Your words: “Apparently, Petal Power is only concerned about what is happening in Civic and trendy locations like the Arboretum.”

Meaning they are apparently doing bugger-all to get the government to maintain shared paths in Tuggeranong because they are only concerned with Civic.

Obviously, we went to different schools, and there is nothing wrong with that!.

11
dungfungus 5:53 pm
22 Mar 17
#

Maya123 said :

Re dungfungus’ comments about Pedal Power.

You must remember that the members who lobby for better cycling facilities are volunteers, who don’t get paid and do this work in their own time (often on top of full time jobs). They try to represent the members. However, it is always easier to comment on an area if they know it, so it would be natural that with their limited, unpaid time, that they would gravitate to issues in areas that they know better. They are volunteers; they are not paid workers who can be told what to do. They do this job in good will.

If someone thinks their area is not getting enough support, the answer is simple. Obviously the issues of that area are familiar to you, so you volunteer and join the unpaid workers and then you can research and bring up issues that you are familiar with. It is always better to have someone who knows the area.

I am not a member of any PP committee. But I am aware how voluntary organisations work.

Pedal Power ACT Inc. is no ordinary volunteer organisation.

I know the data collected is done by volunteers but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Pedal Power isn’t receiving a fee from the ACT government as their 31/12/2012 income statement reveals they received $41,800 for “cordon counts” which are the “annual bike counts” referred to in the lead article of this thread. Financial statements here:

http://www.pedalpower.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/PP2012-Annual-Report-web-V2.pdf

Was this function put out to tender?

They also received grants totalling almost $85,000 as well as membership fees of $144,513.
Surprisingly there are payments to “volunteers” of $5,374 revealed as well as a lot of other quirky things. It’s all above board and audited but I personally believe their association with the ACT government is a little too cosy.

One thing is for sure and that is the Executive Officer doesn’t work on a voluntary basis as his salary is revealed as being $84,378 (plus super) and probably use of a company bike.

12
Masquara 7:48 pm
22 Mar 17
#

Canberra is only conducive to cycling for a few months a year. In summer it’s too hot and the sun is ferocious. Winter is too cold for work commuting other than for the most hardcore of cyclists. That leaves (in most years) about five months a year that are truly comfortable for cycling …

13
Maya123 9:14 pm
22 Mar 17
#

Masquara said :

Canberra is only conducive to cycling for a few months a year. In summer it’s too hot and the sun is ferocious. Winter is too cold for work commuting other than for the most hardcore of cyclists. That leaves (in most years) about five months a year that are truly comfortable for cycling …

As someone who cycled all year to work, I know what you say is untrue. Cycling to work I did not cycle in the middle of the day, so that avoided the worst of the hot summer sun. In winter I dressed for the cold. I must admit to being a bit of a wimp on wet days though, Then I would catch the bus and walk two kms each way to work at the end of the bus ride. At least I didn’t have to cycle over icy, snowy ground through falling snow, a many people cycling in Europe do.

I am certainly not the “most hardcore of cyclists”, to quote you, as outside of commuting to work I didn’t do a massive amount of cycling, especially as I got older.

14
bigred 6:27 am
23 Mar 17
#

I find the analysis on this small downturn to be quite simplistic. For example, there has been no discussion on the impact of the previous month or so of record temperatures on people’s general sense of well being (I personally took a while to recover), what else was going on around town and the general employment situation.

I also wonder what the result would be if a couple of snapshots were taken during the year. If not feasible to do a full count, perhaps at a couple of key point. Pedal Power seems to have enough mature members from seeing their organised rides to allow one to hypothesise that would have sufficient free labour available.

15
wildturkeycanoe 7:00 am
23 Mar 17
#

Maya123 said :

You must remember that the members who lobby for better cycling facilities are volunteers, who don’t get paid and do this work in their own time (often on top of full time jobs). They try to represent the members. However, it is always easier to comment on an area if they know it, so it would be natural that with their limited, unpaid time, that they would gravitate to issues in areas that they know better. They are volunteers; they are not paid workers who can be told what to do. They do this job in good will.

Ok, so the cycling lobby group who advises the government and petitions for where and how taxes are spent on cycling infrastructure, is run by a small group of geographically centered, self interested volunteers? How is that acceptable? Do we have a small group of motorists from Belconnen advising where roads infrastructure spending is needed? Do we have a small group of scientists in one branch of the CSIRO advocating for scientific investment allocations?
The government should have people employed in departments, who have the expertise and unbiased opinions on where spending needs to happen, not self interest groups who direct money to where they prefer it to go. This is why we have spent so much money on cycling infrastructure and still have issues with it, because the people in charge of the purse strings are listening to advice from non-experts who think they know best but in reality are in it for themselves.
So the counting has been conducted in the city area for the last five years, which is where most of the cycling infrastyructure spending has ended up. Why not Belconnen, Tuggeranong, Woden and other locations? Is the ANU precinct so worthy of focus just because uni students and Greenies are constantly in the ear of the government for more subsidies and spending on their “environmentally friendly” projects? Is this narrow field of vision the reason that maintenance on existing cycle-ways in outlying areas has been neglected?

I wonder if there are other reasons for the decline in cycling. Perhaps the fact that it is the day after a public holiday Monday, meaning a lot of folks are having a four day weekend by incorporating their flexi day on Tuesday. Could it be the fact many jobs have been relocated from Civic to Woden in the health department? Well, it appears not, if less than 3% cycle for commuting reasons anyway. Perhaps people just don’t like cycling as much as in the past.
Whatever the reason, I do not think it is prudent to keep spending money on infrastructure whose usage is in decline. Sure, if more people were getting on board then it makes sense, but to blame the infrastructure for the decline is not a logical argument because it has had more money spent to encourage use, which apparently hasn’t achieved the desired outcome. Time to examine the causes before throwing more cash at it.

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