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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In the absence of further explanation and context (which doesn't seem to be reported) these sorts of measures of 'cycling participation' are meaningless. I understand that it's been the same 528 households surveyed over several years. Well what tends to happen when the children in such households grow up and leave home? They leave their bikes in the shed, buy a car and disappear from the participation stats!


No, it's not the same households surveyed each time.

These stats are meaningless for a number of reasons. I haven't read the methodology, but any time you survey the same group of people over several years you are going to start tracking major changes in behavioural choice simply due to growth and development, changed economic circumstances etc etc.

It's the usual Advertiser beat-up aimed at their presiding theory that anything remotely negative sells papers!

Here's the text of a feature article in which I attempted a +ve spin on things. Lame title and I doubt it'll get published but it sure helped expunge my desire to take the daily rag out for ceremonial treatment with acid and then ritual burning!


Submitted to the Advertiser Features/Opinion Pages:

"A Positive Bicycle Future for Adelaide.

The recent release of data indicating a major drop in bicycle use across Adelaide has renewed discussion of a number of vexed questions about bike lanes, cyclist behavior and the future of bicycle use in our transport system. Unfortunately this discussion rarely considers why we should all get behind increased bicycle use whether we ride a bike or not, and what might be needed to make it happen. Our discussion as a community seems stuck in an endless ‘us and them’ framework. We constantly talk about ‘cyclists’ as a group rather than ‘bicycle use’ as an active choice we might all benefit from. The 20% drop in cycling participation over recent years sounds dire and for the general public, the findings of the National Cycling Participation Survey might suggest that investment in cycling infrastructure over the last decade has been in vain. However statistics rarely tell the whole story, especially when public discussion rarely gets beyond complaints about ‘lycra louts’ and ‘inconvenient bike lanes’. Fortunately the cycling picture in Adelaide extends well beyond such matters and generally it’s a positive one!

More than 70% of our city’s adults own and ride a bike. That’s possibly more than those who own and drive a car! So in a very real sense ‘we are all cyclists’. And things are getting better. Ask Adelaide’s every-day bicycle users and many will now tell you how much they now enjoy their day-to-day riding. They’ll tell you of excellent initiatives taken to support safer and more convenient bicycle use across the city and in their local communities. Since about 2005 we’ve seen the beginnings of an outstanding Greenway Network running the full length of the city from Willunga to Gawler and from the coast to the eastern suburbs. This network of pathways and linked quiet roads - what the Dutch call ‘secure routes’ - could eventually provide safe and mostly off-road bikeways and shared-use paths across the entire city. Several Greenways are already in daily use by thousands of bicycle riders of all ages, providing a sort of long-distance framework that connects to more localized bike networks and destinations and makes them accessible. As an added benefit these Greenways will also help pedestrians and those reliant on mobility devices and will provide what is essentially a new form of public open space.

The Department of Planning, Transport & Infrastructure (DPTI) has also built off-road bikeways alongside major new roads and expressways as well as many ‘local linkages’ that allow bicycle users safe access across and around our increasingly crowded roads. And we’ve seen many local councils take up the challenge by developing and then actively implementing local bike plans, supported by the annual State Bicycle Fund.

So why hasn’t the miracle happened? Why do we see cycling numbers apparently falling rather than rocketing upwards? The answer is quite simple – we just haven’t been ambitious enough! We need to remember that Adelaide is a large city – it has an extensive ‘footprint’ some 90km long and up to 30km wide. That’s an enormous and complex area to make ‘bicycle friendly’ while trying to bring our road and rail systems into the 21st century at the same time. Over the last decade or so we have learned a great deal about what works best in getting people on their bikes. I’m not talking about the sporty bods who get out and about in lycra and who are generally confident, competent and fast road riders. I mean ordinary, everyday Adelaide residents cycling for transport at everyday speeds. Riding just to get to the shops, school or work, to visit the local doctor or library or maybe for a bit of recreation and relaxation.

The Dutch experience tells us that what works for these people is ‘practical security’. Things like permitting bikes on footpaths and building short bits of off-road bikeway that connect up the long, quiet streets alongside our rail and tramways. The off-road pathways that run along Adelaide’s creeks and waterways, around the perimeter of our airports and large open spaces, and along our 22km Coast Park. Key bits of infrastructure that allow bike users to ‘filter’ their way through and between suburbs in a safe and efficient manner. The public benefits of this more ‘secure’ infrastructure are now well understood – we just need much, much more of it!

We all have a role in achieving this outcome. As a community we need to set our goals higher. We need to be much more ambitious in embracing a more active future. We need to start thinking carefully about the benefits of building active travel into our everyday lives, and more importantly into our children’s. We can all benefit from this commitment and the great thing is that these benefits are free. Better health, reduced economic, social and environmental costs and a more secure and resilient community. We just need to jettison this us-and-them approach and acknowledge that bikes are here to stay and are an integral and valuable part of the transport network. Instead of complaining what Government has not managed to achieve for bicycle use we need to start talking positively about active travel as a community ambition and what is needed to see it realized. We need to give our elected leaders permission to be truly imaginative in designing a city that is tied less to the car and more focused on supporting active travel in our daily lives.

For Government it means we need to start spending much more money to develop the secure infrastructure that every-day bicycle use needs. And we need to start thinking well beyond the painting of bike lanes on main roads and expecting this to meet the needs of ‘cyclists’. Government needs to start making use of the extensive reserves, unused open spaces and wide boulevards that Adelaide is still blessed with to build fast and efficient off-road bikeways and linked-streets, bypassing and avoiding the tangle that our main-road network has become.

I live in Semaphore, part of Port Adelaide/Enfield Council and one of Adelaide’s oldest suburbs. Over the last 12 years my own council, neighboring City of Charles Sturt and DPTI have slowly built the Outer Harbour Greenway. This long distance active travel route extends from the Adelaide Parklands all the way to the observation park at Outer Harbour – about 20kms. When current work in Bowden and Brompton is finished families will be able to ride their bikes from the City to see the dolphins in the Port’s inner harbor and on to Outer Harbour. Commuters will be able to ride all the way from Port Adelaide into the city CBD and to all points in between. Greenway users won’t have to deal with uncontrolled road crossings, travel along major roads or watch out for speeding cars and trucks. They will instead ride securely on the west’s most interesting boulevards and enjoy some kilometers of picturesque off-road pathway.

This will be a great outcome. Our problem is that routes like this should not take 12 years to create! And they should not need constant pressure from local communities to ensure they are actually finished. To take full advantage of the benefits of bicycle use and more active travel we need an extensive and ‘secure’ active travel network. To achieve this we need a positive, ambitious and fully committed approach from Government that inspires a common vision across the community – mothers, fathers, children, the old and the young. Without such vision embedded in the community our Government simply won’t be able to get the job done.

So what can generate such a vision? Development of Adelaide’s bike network has for years been characterized by half-hearted public commitment, the annual drip-feeding of funds and an ad hoc and opportunistic approach to planning. We now need a comprehensive, city-wide action plan that will ensure our Active Travel Network can be fully developed within 5 years. We need a funding plan that puts an ambitious and fully costed set of major bike projects to the Commonwealth for funding. And we need a new State Bike Plan that will continue inspire us all to think seriously about the benefits of active travel in our daily lives and what we need to make it happen. That’s when Adelaide can start to call itself a bike-friendly city!

Sam Powrie,

Secretary, Port Adelaide Bicycle User Group."

Gawler wheelers take over and rise of the Ape pro team happened lol.

I wonder if the introduction of share bikes in the CBD (and now Charles Sturt council) will affect the survey results in two years? If people who work in the city who don't normally ride have the opportunity to jump on a bike to go to a meeting or to get lunch across town or make a quick trip to the central market, then one might expect that should show up in future surveys.

This seems to be the case in Auckland, which has also seen the introduction of share bikes this year.

I have written a blog on the topic of cycling levels, using evidence from Super Tuesday, Journey to Work and the annual cordon counts, as well further analysis of the Cycling Participation Survey.  You can find the blog here.


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