Survey finds more people on bikes in Tas

The latest national cycling survey results are out and not surprisingly the COVID-19 lockdowns have led to increases in bike riding, including in Tasmania.

The national surveys have been run every two years since 2011 and had either been showing declines in regular bike riding or plateauing numbers. The survey for this year also includes walking data and some of the questions from past surveys have been changed or refined.

The COVID-19 lockdown was the impetus needed for many people to get back on their bikes, get old bikes fixed up or buy new bikes.

The main results for Tasmania are:

  • There was a big jump in the number of people who said they had ridden a bicycle in the past year to 43.8% up from 34.4% in 2019.
  • Not having access to a bicycle was the most common reason why people said they hadn’t ridden in the past year 26.5%.
  • The number of people with access to a working bicycle was less than in 2019 at 43%, although the number of people with multiple bikes rose slightly.
  • Fewer Tasmanians rode for transport 26% compared to the national average of 34% with more Tasmanians riding for recreation 89% compared to the national average of 82%.
Commuter cycling

The results for the reason why people ride for transport are also not surprising, with work, education and visiting friends the most common reason. It is interesting to note the big discrepancy of the number of people who ride to work in Hobart at 17.7% compared to the Tasmanian average of 8.3%.

This is likely to be because of the better standard of cycling infrastructure in Hobart compared to other Tasmanian towns and cities, but could also be because other pressures such as parking costs are not as strong in the smaller towns.

Our Super Tuesday counts in Hobart this year showed slightly fewer riders at most count sites which may have been due to poor weather in the lead up to the count and more people potentially working from home or flexible hours in the office following the COVID-19 lockdown impacts on workplaces.

Latent demand for cycling infrastructure

For the first time we have good information on the latent demand for safer cycling infrastructure, i.e. the number of people who want to ride more but are put off by road safety concerns.

We know from other places that roughly half of people will say they are interested in riding but are concerned about safety.

The Tasmanian survey breaks respondents into three groups based on their agreement with one of the statements about where they ride when traffic is involved:

  • Interested: I would never ride my bike on a road
  • Cautious: I prefer paths or quiet streets and am willing to take a longer way to avoid busy roads
  • Confident: I prefer to use the most direct and convenient way regardless of traffic.

People who would never ride a bike regardless of conditions are also included in the results.