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Less Canberrans are cycling, less often

By Leon Arundell - 13 March 2012 78

The Pedal Power website still claims that “Our objective is ‘More Canberrans cycling, more often, for a better community,’ a year after Pedal Power members voted to reject that objective.

This is doubly embarrassing for Pedal Power, because the evidence indicates that less Canberrans are cycling, less often.

Figures from the ABS and the Australian Sports Commission show that only 18% of Canberrans cycled in 2009. This is the lowest figure since the turn of the millennium, and 1.2% below the 2006 figure.

At the turn of the millennium most of Canberra’s cyclists were children. Canberra’s on-road cycling facilities have increased adult cycling, but done nothing for children.

Our children are giving up cycling faster than our adults are returning to it.

And the average time Australian children spend cycling has fallen from over six hours per fortnight in 2000, to less than five in 2009.

What’s Your opinion?

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78 Responses to
Less Canberrans are cycling, less often
puggy 4:17 pm 13 Mar 12

Jivrashia said :

Call me a wimp but ever since my bicycle and I were cleaned up by a car on Northbourne during morning traffic I manage to find the smallest of excuse not to ride.

That doesn’t sound great but even after 5000km of commuting last year, no way known I’m gettting near Northbourne on the stretch from Dickson to the City. I wimp out and take the long way on the Lyneham bike path. It’s not that much longer and you only have to dodge fixie riding uni students, who infuriate me no end.

davo101 4:11 pm 13 Mar 12

I assume that Leon is the same Leon that failed to get his motion accepted at last year’s AGM? Perhaps everyone else at the meeting was happy with the definition of promote:

To further the growth, development, progress, or establishment of (a thing); to advance or actively support (a process, cause, result, etc.); to encourage.

I’m not entirely sure arguing about the minutiae of the organization’s constitution is going to cause anyone to take or give up cycling.

PS: If not “cyclist” then what?

Jim Jones 3:56 pm 13 Mar 12

Jivrashia said :

I’m sure the sight of me lying semi-conscious on Northbourne would have dissuaded some from riding, especially during peak-hour traffic that appears to make cyclists harder to see for drivers.

Pics or it didn’t happen.

Jivrashia 3:45 pm 13 Mar 12

Guilty as charged.

Call me a wimp but ever since my bicycle and I were cleaned up by a car on Northbourne during morning traffic I manage to find the smallest of excuse not to ride.

Even before one starts arguing about the rights of cyclists vs arrogant, rude, and disobedient cyclists, the general population is not educated enough to realise that there are cyclist sharing the road.

I’m sure the sight of me lying semi-conscious on Northbourne would have dissuaded some from riding, especially during peak-hour traffic that appears to make cyclists harder to see for drivers.

shadow boxer 3:44 pm 13 Mar 12

Most parents wouldn’t let their children near those on road cycle paths, that’s why we built bike paths through the leafy suburbs and stopping at the schools in the 70’s and 80’s.

Those paths are where cyclists should be concentrating their efforts, we would all support you, rather than insane ideas like closing a lane of Northbourne or the green paint (pucker your arse and hope for the best) method of commuting

carnardly 3:41 pm 13 Mar 12

On road cycling lanes are extremely dangerous?

Where are you? I commute by bike most days of the week and choose major roads with on road lanes. Eg between Woden and the city you have a lane that is in parts as wide as a car lane. How many serious accidents have happened there in the last 10 years? Bugger all I would think. I know there are far more incidents on Northbourne Avenue, and i think there is probably an equal number of dumb cyclists as there are car drivers. Do i have any hesitation about riding Northbourne on the road? No.

Maybe dangerous is in the eye of the beholder.

I pass a good number of riders each day and an even higher number of faster people pass me. Do you think all of us would be doing it if we honestly thought it was dangerous? But in saying that, if something crap does happen, we know we’ll come off worse, so that’s why we ride safely, predictably and (in my case at any rate) obey all traffic signs and signals.

Keijidosha 3:19 pm 13 Mar 12

I wonder if the decrease in the number and frequency of children cycling correlates with an increase in the number of children being driven to/from school?

astrojax 3:17 pm 13 Mar 12

chaser said :

Less people are cycling because of compulsory helmet laws.

‘fewer’ [again] – but can you cite evidence for this? these laws have been in for some while now, so hard to see this is a factor in a recent reduction in cyclist no.s

personally, i suspect it is the baby boom erupting in canberra and new parents rely more on a car to carry out parently duties and have fewer opportunities to whip out the trundly… well, that’s my excuse. [that and being cleaned up from behind in 2009 while on my bike making me yet now a little more circumspect in using that transport option…]

dungfungus 3:11 pm 13 Mar 12

When Petal Power find out that Andrew Barr is planning a covered, all weather stadium they will be demanding all bike paths in the territory be covered as well.

dungfungus 3:10 pm 13 Mar 12

There are old cyclists and bold cyclists, but there are no old, bold cyclists.

devils_advocate 3:01 pm 13 Mar 12

sien said :

Fewer Canberrans are cycling not less.

I think they meant “lesser Canberrans are cycling”, which while correct in a gramatical sense is fairly redundant.

Boxhead 3:00 pm 13 Mar 12

Leon, can you expand on your comment that Pedal Power members rejected the stated objective? As a cycling commuter, I am considering becoming a member but am concerned if they have other hidden objectives.

I am somewhat dismayed by Canberra’s focus on cycling infrastructure that clearly favours the sports cyclist and ignores commuters. The on-road cycling lanes are extremely dangerous and Canberra adults can be forgiven for being reluctant to take that risk. Most days I have extremely near misses with ignorant or aggressive drivers (especially buses in the latter category) and believe that the current on-road cycling lanes are the wrong solution.

There needs to be a physical barrier between the cyclist and the motor traffic. The on-road lanes could be modifed with a small concrete ‘hump’ instead of the almost useless white painted lines that divide cyclists from the traffic.

The green patches at major exits are curious. Surely green means “go”? A colour like red would at least draw motorists’ attention to the possibility of danger (not, of course, to themselves, but to the brave but unprotected cyclists who are doing their bit for physical fitness (less burden on the public health system) and the environment (fewer greenhouse gas and other polluting emissions)).

Finally, to those who say cyclists should pay road user fees “just like everyone else”, I, like most commuter cyclists, have a car that remains garaged at home during the week on which we pay full road user fees despite removing it from the daily traffic jams.

Some food for thought.

chaser 2:59 pm 13 Mar 12

Less people are cycling because of compulsory helmet laws.

sien 2:33 pm 13 Mar 12

Fewer Canberrans are cycling not less.

niftydog 2:26 pm 13 Mar 12

That’s quite old data, and doesn’t seem to fit with my observations. Cycling seems to have boomed in the last two years. Cycling is clearly growing in other cities, and the last few years have been record years for bike sales.

Canberra is blessed with an abundance of mountain biking – there’s something for all ages, and some of it is very close to suburbia (Bruce, Majura). There’s also new dirt jumps in Gungahlin and the new skate/bike park in Belconnen.

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