Australian cycling boom a myth

Jun 28, 2012

(Phys.org) -- There has been a decline in the per capita level of cycling in Australia, with population growth three times that of recent increases in cycling trips, according to research by University of Sydney Professor Chris Rissel and independent researcher Chris Gillham.

The study, recently published in the journal World Transport Policy and Practice (PDF, 557KB) demonstrates that on a per capita basis there were 37.5 percent fewer Australians riding bikes in 2011 than in 1985-86.

This is despite Australia's population increasing by 58.4 percent from 1986 to 2010.

While Australia's reported cycling 'boom' over the past decade has seen increasing numbers of cyclists, there has been an effective decline in per capita cycling participation over 25 years, according to the study.

"If even just 10 percent more people were cycling instead of driving at any given time, would be significantly reduced on Australian roads with a commensurate reduction in risk to motorists, pedestrians and cyclists," Professor Rissel, from the University's School of Public Health, said.

The health benefits from recreational exercise and environmental gains from reduced would also be substantial, he added.

"The most likely major deterrent to more people cycling is , which is a significant feature of the cycling environment in Australia."

"Well over half a million more Australians could be riding bicycles if we didn't have mandatory helmet laws, according to research I conducted last year which showed one in five adults surveyed in Sydney said they would ride a bicycle more if they did not have to wear a helmet," Professor Rissel said.

Australia has a low cycling rate compared with most countries and the international consensus is that the mandatory bicycle helmet laws, introduced in 1990-1992, are a significant contributor to this lack of participation.

There are now at least three local government areas in Australia (Fremantle, Adelaide and the City of Sydney) who want helmet laws relaxed.

"Another likely contributing factor to the declining rates of cycling nationally is the lack of investment in infrastructure. Qualitative research consistently reports that people not confident riding on roads prefer bike paths separated from traffic."

Explore further: Bitter coffee today? Try changing the colour of your cup

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia: Helmets off to legislation

Dec 05, 2011

Cycling levels in Sydney could more than double if laws forcing cyclists to wear helmets were repealed, according to new research published today in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia.

UK cyclists take different paths

Jun 19, 2012

Vast differences in cycling cultures have been found in UK cities; for some cycling is a traditional transport accessible to all while for others it is a new edgy, urban subculture according to recent findings from a research ...

Recommended for you

James Watson's Nobel Prize to be auctioned

22 hours ago

Missed the chance to bid on Francis Crick's Nobel Prize when it was auctioned off last year for $2.27 million? No worries, you'll have another chance to own a piece of science history on Dec. 4, when James D. Watson's 1962 ...

Engineers develop gift guide for parents

Nov 21, 2014

Faculty and staff in Purdue University's College of Engineering have come up with a holiday gift guide that can help engage children in engineering concepts.

Former Brown dean whose group won Nobel Prize dies

Nov 20, 2014

David Greer, a doctor who co-founded a group that won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for working to prevent nuclear war and who helped transform the medical school at Brown University, has died. He was 89.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.