The recently released National Cycling Participation Results show a 20% drop in cycling in SA since 2011.

Now I've never found cycling in Adelaide to be well blessed. While I can see it is difficult to retrofit a city with easy bike routes, I would not have excpected it to drop. Stay a bit still maybe but to drop?

I'm not SA so maybe someone can give some reasoning to this? Law changes? Reduced infrastructure? More people telecommuting?

What gives?

Added by request:

Ian Radbone of THe Bicycle Institute South Australia has blogged this.


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Further to my own question, I notice that cycling on Oz overall has also dropped somewhat. Perhaps a more general question of why it is dropping nationally.

I'm puzzled too. Speaking as a someone who mainly cycles for commuting, it's better than in the past: more bike lanes, cycling on footpaths now allowed, passing laws, and bicycle parking and shower facilities tend to be more common.

Or are those factors outweighed by other factors? e.g. I work in the city, but I usually haven't cycled when I've worked outside the city. Maybe work is less centralised? Or people are still put off by a combination of distance, dangerous roads, and easy city parking?

Indeed a little puzzled as well. I mean, I thought I'd been seeing plenty of cyclists and lots of women as well among them.

Have a look at this article for a bit of an explanation:

While there may be an overall trend downwards, things probably aren't as bad as the survey suggests. The figures that were reported by the media refer to riding in the past week. If the survey was done in March, which is when I think previous surveys were done, and if that particular week was a hot one (or even a wet one), then it's likely fewer people rode which would affect survey results.

The data also captures any cycling done anywhere by everyone, not just cycling to work or uni/school.  This includes children who may or may not have ridden for any number of reasons.

Also consider that the sample size was 530 households containing 1,101 people, which is fairly small compared to the 1 million plus population of SA.

What wasn't reported, at least not to my knowledge, was that the results showed that 30% of the population of metro Adelaide rode a bike somewhere in the last year.

Also not reported: 20% of the respondents said they had started riding in the last year, up from 8% in 2015. And those who responded that they are long term cyclists, i.e. riding regularly for more than a year, are riding more often.

One more important finding: 13% of metro riders rode to work in the previous month, compared with 9% nationally.

Numbers can be spun any way you want, I suppose... but if you want to have a look at the data, follow the link at the bottom of the page here: You'll need to sign up to access the data.

Alan Davies in Crikey:
“Are things as bad as The Advertiser makes out? ... The data is based on a telephone survey, so it is subject to all the usual problems ... The sample size for the national survey is 0.09% of the resident population ...”

The ABS uses travel mode to work, so excludes recreational cycling, students riding to uni, etc. The Census with its large sample size does not show a decrease in cycling.

Is The Advertiser being anti-cyclist again?

No just looking for a sensational headline to get the reader in :-)

I'd like to attribute it to seasonal factors, but the trends are broadly similar in all states, and have dropped consistently over 3 survey periods (2011-13-15-17). Only 530 households were surveyed in SA, but it was 4434 households Australia wide. So unless there's some sort of built-in bias (questions asked differently, shift in day of the week of questioning perhaps), I'm inclined to believe it.

I gather that the reason that this survey has gained traction in the Daily Rupert is that it shows a significant drop in cycling.The dead tree copy that I read at the library tonight had all the usual respondents whining about lycra louts etc.

A proper survey (conducted across a series of different days to balance out seasonal variations) would undoubtedly show either very little change or a slight rise. There's certainly no shortage of cyclists out and about.

Deteriorating roads may be a part of it. Unless trucks use the road it doesn’t get fixed! And roads with big trucks don’t attract cyclists Try riding on Goodwood, Unley or Fullarton roads for example !

My personal bike count the other day.  Didn't look too bad - the first half is at about 6:30 am. Second at about 8:00 am where I will generally only see those that I overtake or am overtaken by.  

I wonder if petrol prices are a factor.  When petrol prices were getting closer to $2/litre people were looking at cheaper alternative modes of transport. With the price closer to $1/litre in the last couple of years, there is not so much incentive.  For some this would be the difference as to whether driving was financially viable for their budget.

Certainly possible. Another factor could be that smaller imported cars have become considerably more economical than the big Aussie monsters favoured just a few short years ago. Interest rates have been low for quite a while and larger cars have worn out and been replaced, with reasonable repayments on the new ones.


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