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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
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Leon Arundell 8:47 am 25 Mar 17

Thanks for asking, tenpoints. Based on my most recent analysis, the ten best value remaining projects (and my rough estimates of their costs) are Thesiger Court off road link ($70k), University Avenue off road path ($110k), Giralang off road link ($210k), Fisher off road path ($210k), Menindee Drive off-road path ($250k), Mawson shops off road bypass ($320k), Lake to War Memorial off road path ($350k), Easty Street off road link ($180k), Athllon Drive off-road path missing link ($350k) and the Ginninderra Drive off-road path, UoC to Lake Ginninderra ($460k).

wildturkeycanoe 9:21 pm 24 Mar 17

“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.”
I thought that getting people onto the new trams is supposed to be top of the agenda for transport in Canberra. If we encourage more people to ride, how do we get them onto the trams in order to make them cost effective? Now if you think that combining trams with cycling is the solution, then how do you get maximum patronage when the aisles are full of bikes? If they ride to the tram stop and leave them locked up there, then why spend on cycling infrastructure in the city?
From the “Park and Pedal” link – ” There is a pleasant shared, off-road path which commuters can ride almost the entire way to these destinations, stress-free, and unencumbered by traffic and intersections.”
With additional cyclists taking this option, I think they will quickly find the journey as frustrating as driving all the way, as there is only a single lane each way to cater for all the cyclists, pedestrians, dogs and the odd kangaroo. There was an article in the CT last year, highlighting the issues of traffic around the lake’s shared paths, so increasing the number of users will logically elevate these issues. The “Park and Pedal” option might also reduce traffic in the city, but it won’t reduce the carnage of the Tuggeranong Parkway.

dungfungus 5:19 pm 24 Mar 17

Tenpoints said :

Here is the data that PP have collected over the years:
http://www.pedalpower.org.au/programs/cordon-counts/

The inherent limitation of this strategy is this is counting cyclists on one morning of one day, out of 365. And on this day you have variables. Temperature, wind, rain will all cut cycling numbers. How about a round of the flu?

I have seen rubber strip counters in various locations on my Tuggeranong-Civic Commute. I presume TAMS are doing this, could Pedal Power do the same? Strava Metro could also be a valuable tool for analysing popular routes (albeit with the caveat that only a subset of riders use it). Will Pedal Power use these tools for a more thorough analysis of cycling trips?

One day sample aside, the healthcare and traffic congestion figures are more than enough to justify smart spending on cycling and walking infrastructure.

Leon Arundell said :

* The Civic Cycle Loop ranked top trunk walking and cycling projects, on the basis that it would cost only $180,000. The Government re-estimated its cost at $6 million and discovered that the original ranking method was riddled with errors. Instead of funding more cost-effective cycling projects, and with the support of Pedal Power, the Government spent the $6 million on the Cycle Loop;

While I personally thing the Civic Cycle loop isn’t perfect, it’s a lot visually cleaner than it was before, and aside from the ridiculous situation on Rimmer X Marcus Clarke, it . And the Bunda St Shareway has definitley reduced and calmed motor vehicle traffic which is better for the many people who walk across and cycle through there. Whether $6 million was a reasonable price tag for the project I don’t know, but I don’t see what $180K would have achieved beyond a bit of paint on the road. You probably wouldn’t even fund signage with that.

Leon, based on your most recent cost-benefit analyisis, what are the most cost effective walking/cycling trunk routes that have yet to be completed as of today?

So, Pedal Power’s volunteers collect data that is ultimately used by Pedal Power to get further government infrastructure funding after the ACT Government pays them for doing the “cordon count”?

I am at a loss to find for words to describe this arrangement.

Tenpoints 12:29 pm 24 Mar 17

Here is the data that PP have collected over the years:
http://www.pedalpower.org.au/programs/cordon-counts/

The inherent limitation of this strategy is this is counting cyclists on one morning of one day, out of 365. And on this day you have variables. Temperature, wind, rain will all cut cycling numbers. How about a round of the flu?

I have seen rubber strip counters in various locations on my Tuggeranong-Civic Commute. I presume TAMS are doing this, could Pedal Power do the same? Strava Metro could also be a valuable tool for analysing popular routes (albeit with the caveat that only a subset of riders use it). Will Pedal Power use these tools for a more thorough analysis of cycling trips?

One day sample aside, the healthcare and traffic congestion figures are more than enough to justify smart spending on cycling and walking infrastructure.

Leon Arundell said :

* The Civic Cycle Loop ranked top trunk walking and cycling projects, on the basis that it would cost only $180,000. The Government re-estimated its cost at $6 million and discovered that the original ranking method was riddled with errors. Instead of funding more cost-effective cycling projects, and with the support of Pedal Power, the Government spent the $6 million on the Cycle Loop;

While I personally thing the Civic Cycle loop isn’t perfect, it’s a lot visually cleaner than it was before, and aside from the ridiculous situation on Rimmer X Marcus Clarke, it . And the Bunda St Shareway has definitley reduced and calmed motor vehicle traffic which is better for the many people who walk across and cycle through there. Whether $6 million was a reasonable price tag for the project I don’t know, but I don’t see what $180K would have achieved beyond a bit of paint on the road. You probably wouldn’t even fund signage with that.

Leon, based on your most recent cost-benefit analyisis, what are the most cost effective walking/cycling trunk routes that have yet to be completed as of today?

wildturkeycanoe 3:00 pm 23 Mar 17

FYI Maya, I do cycle and haven’t seen much, if any cycling infrastructure improvements in the west Belconnen area. But we don’t have people in lycra zooming around either, as the shared paths are sporadic and meandering, with the necessity to use footpaths or risk going into traffic to get from A to B.

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