What comes first, the bike rider or the bike lane?

In the wake of the recent furore over the pausing of bike lanes, one begs the question: do we install bike infrastructure to attract more riders, or is infrastructure built because of more riders?

An article highlighted this issue as a chicken and egg problem.

Pre-pandemic, riders make up a mere 1.1% of total commuters. Car travel? 73.8%.

Spending millions of dollars on cycling infrastructure to accommodate a few thousand cyclists is apparently not financially viable enough to attract investments through public funding.

Simply put, decision makers will not invest more money in better riding infrastructure until they see evidence of more riders on the road.

However, unsafe, and unattractive riding conditions will deter new riders from forming a habit that will ultimately improve their health, mitigate climate change, and save time and money.

It is common sense that good riding infrastructure naturally attracts more riders.

55% of cyclists who ride at least once a fortnight said they would make at least 2 more trips a week by bike if there is better cycling infrastructure. 62% who ride once a month said they would increase their cycling frequency by 4.3 trips.

And we have the science to prove it.

So what comes first, the bike rider or the bike lane? It's a tricky one to answer. But suffice it to say: each time we ride a bike around our towns and cities we are placing a vote. A vote for bikes. So let's keep voting! 

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.