Pedal power is highest in the ACT

A new report reveals that more people ride bikes to work in the ACT than in any other state, but that women are severely underrepresented in the numbers.

ACT Cycling Participation, released by the NRMA and ACT Pedal Power, says 2.61 per cent of journeys to work were by bike and 23.3 per cent of Canberrans (almost a quarter of the population) had cycled in the previous week, compared to 18 per cent nationally.

The report states that while Canberra is Australia’s most progressive cycling city, the nation’s cycling rates are significantly lower than in cities such as Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and New York.

The ACT Government has invested considerably in cycling infrastructure and amenities that support cycling and boasts more than 1000 kilometres of well-connected shared paths.

The state also has a bicycle parking code for new developments, which aims to reduce barriers to cycling by ensuring safe and convenient end-of-trip facilities are available at residences and common commuting and recreational destinations. The code aims to promote cycling as a healthy and environmentally friendly way to make commuter, shopping and recreational trips.

The report identified bicycle tourism as an area of opportunity for the state. The ACT Government has estimated that growth in the sector could deliver $400 million in aggregate benefits to the economy by 2030 through attracting more tourists from interstate and overseas.

It also found that improvements to congestion and parking access across Canberra could be made by doubling the number of people who rode to work in the ACT. But there were impediments to increasing the number of regular bike riders.

“Data shows that a large proportion of the population are ‘interested but concerned’ about cycling,” the report said.

Commonly reported hurdles to greater adoption of cycling included:

  • Safety concerns such as a lack of physically separated infrastructure, poor societal attitudes to cycling and confidence in mixed traffic
  • Practical concerns such as the need to make mechanical repairs, being sweaty and exhausted at a destination
  • Security concerns including parking a bike safely and securely at a destination.

The report said security and safety were the strongest factors attributed to the disparity between the number of male and female cyclists.

ACT Pedal Power Executive Director Simon Copland said increased rates of cycling were beneficial for everybody, “even those who drive cars”.

“Cycling reduces congestion, is great for the environment, and boosts mental and physical health,” he said.

“The ACT Government has taken many positive steps to boost cycling numbers in Canberra. However, there is a lot more we can do. In particular, we are calling for the faster roll-out of separated cycling infrastructure across the city, making the riding our bike safer and more convenient for all.”

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