Found this story in my emails this morning and thought that maybe Adelaide could take a lesson from the Dutch.
I'm trying to arrange my karma so I'm reborn in the Netherlands. Just in case you don't already know it there is a guy called David Hembrow who is from the UK but moved to the Netherlands for the cycling. He has a great blog called A View from the Cycle Path. It has lots of information including an interesting post rebutting all the reasons people put forward for why their country can't do what the Netherlands did.
The elephant in the Netherlands room is how flat it is. If Adelaide was as flat as anywhere in Holland more people would cycle because they would never have a hill. Then Adelaide would be forced to look at the existing infrastructure to make sure it was working properly bike-wise.
Also there is a lot of Adelaide which is flat which doesn't seem to have improved the infrastructure.
Seriously, do you think that Adelaide has hills (with the obvious exception of the 'hills')?
As replied by Michael above, hills in a city really don't correlate to reduced bicycling.
The suburban undulations would make no difference to cyclists but it's a little different for non cyclists as is wet weather, hot weather, unsafe cycling facilities, lack of facilities at work for cyclists.
I thinnk we might be underestimating two things here. Firstly the incredible flatness of the Netherlands and secondly how non-cyclists see hills.
In conversations I have with non-cyclists they always give two reasons why that don't ride, traffic and hills. I have ridden with new riders (wait for this you'll love it) at the beach and they complain about the hills. One more time and in caps AT THE BEACH.
I think it is easy for us to forget that when you are starting out you have a different perception of what does and does not constitute a hill. These are big psychological barriers to people taking up cycling and until cycling in Australia achieves something like the uptake that the Dutch have managed
we aren't going to get that level of infrastructure.
Would I sound cynical if expensive petrol and modest distances may also be a factor?
add a high population density, everyone lives close to each and and close to services.
In the UK I could ride to work, shops, entertainment venues, pubs etc. All within a 5 mile radius. My mum cycles everywhere, she's never learnt to drive and has no need when everything is on your doorstep. My home town has very few cycle paths if any. The other side of high density living in Europe is diabolical traffic making driving less attractive. we whinge about traffic in Adelaide but it is nothing compared to most of the English towns I've driven in.
I'd take Adelaide's lifestyle as a whole over anything on offer in any European city.
While he seems articulate he practices junk science.
I will suggest that saying the average distance travelled per year is universal seems controversial.
This coupled with his inappropriate presentation of information in graphs suggest that his argument sound be independently verified.
Would I sound harsh if I suggested that with the ease of publishing on the web that everything you read on the web should be given some sort of critical analysis?
No you're right. :-) I was just amused that he had a link for every objection.
I also think Hembrow is wrong about the distance and hills thing. When I moved back to Australia from studying in the UK it was clear that cycle touring was a whole different ball game when towns where a days cycling apart instead of 30 minutes.
But even with those additional factors there is a lot more that could be done to encourage cycling if there was the political will. I guess the real question is why did that political will develop in these European countries?