Came home to this article in the RACV 'Royal Auto' magazine of all places. With all the negative cycling stories going around at the moment, I thought this was worth posting:
Wheels of Fortune
‘If the sight of sweaty packs of lycra lizards pedaling along Beach Rd from well before dawn on weekends doesn’t convince you, or you think the fact that you now encounter cyclists in the most unlikely of places must be a mirage, then the statistics certainly don’t lie: Australia is turning into a bicycle nation at a stunning velocity.
In recent years, sales of bicycles have routinely outstripped cars. More than 1.1 million new bikes are being sold each year. These are not incidental purchases, nor are they predominately at the child’s recreational level – the average price for a new bicycle is more than $2,000. In Victoria, for every bicycle purchased for a child, two are being bought by adults.
Rosemarie Speidel of the Cycling Promotional Fund, says cycling is the new golf. “It is now the fourth most popular activity for adults. Much more popular than golf, which is going backwards” Rosemarie says.
The contribution to the health of riders, who get a payoff of a low-impact activity that exercises all the major muscle groups and mightily increases aerobic fitness, makes it an “outstanding way to exercise”, says Victorian Institute of Sport muscle bio-chemist Troy Flanagan.
With petrol prices burning a hole in household budgets, cycling is also becoming a rational alternative for commuters, especially those living relatively close to the city.
Heidi Marfurt, commuter cycling director with Bicycle Victoria, has data that shows that “if you live within a 10-15km radius of Melbourne, cycling is now the fastest and most predictable form of transport”.
Heidi pedals to work from Thornbury and says that on the outskirts of her road trip, riders are likely o be flashing along in their lycra. But closer to town, “the more you see people wearing their work clothes”.
Heidi says the City of Yarra has counted a 50-70% increase in bike traffic in the past two years, allowing the city to claim that it is one of the most sustainable in Australia.
On the Main Yarra Trail from the eastern suburbs – a path originally built for weekend recreational cyclists – a commuting cyclist passes a VicRoads automated bike counter every eight seconds. About 4000 people are using the Yarra Trail each weekday, Heidi says.
Rosemarie Spoedel says the routes through Carlton are also registering three times the level of peak weekday bike commuters as they do on weekends. “The graphs are so clear. In the first quarter of this year we sold more bikes in Australia than ever before and I think with petrol prices continuing to increase it is only going to grow faster”.’
Article written by Jenny Brown