It has been obvious lately that there are a lot more new riders exploring our trails and bike paths around Australia, but bike riding in Australia has been on a steady rise for decades.
Although it has hard to miss in many places, especially inner Melbourne, there has none-the-less still been denial, especially from those with a motorised barrow to push.
The claim has often been made that money spent on new bike infrastructure was wasted, because nobody was using it.
An alternative view was that riding had not been increasing because helmet laws had suppressed growth.
But now recently published research, using sophisticated statistical analysis, has challenged these myths.
Professor Jake Olivier of the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of NSW, and fellow researchers, found that although Australia's booming population growth was going up faster than the increase in riders, the comparison was misleading.
When they took into account Australia’s changing population demographics such as age and sex composition, the numbers suggested cycling increased about 11 per cent overall between 1985-86 and 2011.
This figure would certainly justify increasing investment in facilities for bike riders.
The authors point out that the lack of proper data on Australian cycling trends is a major source of uncertainty.
"This study highlights the general lack of Australian cycling data and the need to collect relevant data in the future,” the say.
"This data is crucial to our understanding of trends in road safety by allowing estimation of injury and fatality rates per amount of cycling exposure instead of simple population rates.
"Mobility data can take on several forms such as number of trips, distance and time travelled by mode of transport including by bicycle. Other countries such as The Netherlands and Finland have collected such data using stratified random sampling surveys and travel diaries.
"It is recommended that Australia collects high-quality mobility data using standard methods collected on a routine basis.”
Related: Census data questioned
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.