sorry it’s little late but I had to share this photo of Willa and Clover Moore at the Sydney Bike Breakfast in Hyde Park (from the Lord Mayor’s Instagram). We both left our helmets on to stave off the “did you really ride here” questions I encountered last year, an unfortunate result of not riding in lycra, and the plan worked perfectly. The city thoughtfully increased the number of coffee carts and I very much enjoyed my cappuccino, fruit scone, and banana. In fact Willa enjoyed the scone so much we had to go back for seconds (thanks Bakers Delight)! It seemed to me the numbers had increased from last year and there were more ‘plain clothed’ cyclists. It’s great to see more people on bikes and the types of bikes and riders diversifying.
Love Coco xx
By Chris Rissel, University of Sydney
Australians are pretty enthusiastic about cycling for recreation. Cycling to work is another matter entirely. Arguably, cycle commuting is even more important than recreational riding: as well as the health benefits, cycle commuting helps with congestion and with reducing transport emissions. But it’s also a lot more controversial.
Ride2Work is significant for cycling advocates because it is the only promotional event focused on workplaces and commuting. There are many recreational rides available, and many sport related riding options, but commuter cycling is lower on the public’s hierarchy of cycling acceptability.
Most people would agree that recreational riding is fun and healthy. In sports-mad Australia, cycling for sport or going on training rides is reasonably acceptable.
But when transport cycling starts to compete for road space or shared bicycle/pedestrian paths with other commuters, there is less support. Making the transition from regular recreational rider to sometimes riding to work is for many a psychological step too far.
Evaluation of Ride2Work shows that participation has been steadily increasing over the years (now over 150,000 people expected to register in 2012). Importantly, a substantial proportion of these are new to riding to work. And in 2011 38% of these new riders were still riding to work five months later.
Single day popular cycling events do work to encourage more people to cycle. This is because participation usually means preparing well ahead of time and sometimes training or building up fitness, finding enjoyment and satisfaction from participating on the day, and then continuing to do something that is inherently pleasant.
Perhaps we need a ride to work day every week, not just once a year?
Clear government leadership on this is fundamental to enhancing the image and acceptability of commuter or transport cycling. Comments by roads ministers that city cycle paths should be removed send, at best, a mixed message about the value of cyclists to the community. Where are the state funded communication campaigns encouraging more people to cycle?
At all levels of government there are policy documents that identify increasing cycling as a priority. New South Wales, for example, has a state target to “more than double the mode share of bicycle trips made in the Greater Sydney region, at a local and district level, by 2016”. Surely as part of this plan it will be important to legitimate cycling, make it seem attractive to the public, and maybe balance the inexplicably virulent attacks on cycling and cycling infrastructure by some radio commentators?
The international evidence is absolutely clear that the health benefits of a greater proportion of the public cycling regularly could lead to huge savings in the health budget, by helping reduce levels of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Ride to work day once a week might well change the culture of cycling as we know it. It would be safer, because of the well-documented “safety in numbers” phenomenon, there would be fewer cars on the road, less pollution, and more people might even be in a good mood when they get to work.
Not everyone can ride to work – think tradesmen with heavy tools, those people who live too far from their work (riding more than 10-15 kilometres is tricky for most), or people with a disability. Nonetheless there are many who might be interested and capable if we (government agencies, workplaces, colleagues, families, drivers) made it easy for them.
If we seriously want to double the mode share for bicycles, we need to do a lot more. Even though there are more people riding these days (greater absolute number of people riding) the proportion of bicycle trips to work by commuters has stayed the same for the past 20 years. Certainly there have been real increases in pockets of the inner capital cities, but this is outweighed by the vastly greater population growth on the urban edges of capital cities where there are marked declines in the proportion of workers using a bicycle to get to work.
The annual Ride2Work is a worthwhile event, but to get more people riding regularly, even just to the train or bus stop, we should start to think about monthly ride to work days. Then let’s take it up a notch, and institute regular Ride2Work Thursdays.
Chris Rissel does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
I was walking into town yesterday and had to stop at the lights on Kent Street. As I waited to cross a couple of riders pulled up the lights on the cycleway. I could see a conversation happening between two riders who clearly didn’t know each other. When I crossed all was revealed- the male rider was letting the female rider know her hoola hoops had slipped backwards and were hitting her rear tyre. He helped her adjust them before they rode off. So lovely to see strangers helping each other! And hoola hoops!
Dear Tillie and friends,
Friday turned on the most beautiful weather. By 9am I had a couple of loads of washing already on the line and feeling as though I’d taken advantage domestically I simply had to get out and enjoy the sunshine. Willa and I took a leisurely ride to the fish markets to get something for dinner. We took the long route there, avoiding the roads and taking in the foreshore along Darling Harbour and Pyrmont Point.
The fish markets has the most ill-conceived bike racks outside the car park entrance, miles from the actual markets and away from watchful eyes, so no one uses them. Most riders simply lock their bikes to the fence near the water’s edge. With the addition of Willa’s baby seat it was rather more difficult to secure my bike and I provided quite the entertainment juggling a bike, baby, two helmets and a lock.
On the ride home I stopped in at the community garden and picked some salad greens to go with the fish for dinner. Delicious!
Love Co xx
Hi Tillie & Friends!
LESS CAR, MORE GO
USA 2011 | HD 8min.
Dir. Liz Canning
The next level of bicycle sustainability movement is cargo bikes.
LET’S DIDGERIDOO THIS
Australia 2011 | Video 17min.
Dir. Joe Rich
For BMX legend Joe Rich and his Terrible One crew go down under. An exquisitely shot film that expresses the soul of BMX in Australia.
In fact the whole program looks really good. The only thing to do now is convince my husband I deserve a couple of nights off 😉
Dear Tillie and friends,
the weather has finally turned and spring has well and truly sprung! The warm weather has everyone out on their bikes and I was very pleased to see this duo loading up their market buys on the back of mum’s bike. What a great example she is setting for her daughter- and such a nice way to shop!
Paddy’s Markets in Haymarket is often visited by riders but it isn’t well serviced by bike parking. Bike are always precariously locked up to anything that stands still. The demand is also increased by the students attending UTS next door. The surrounding area is to be redeveloped in the near future, including a bike path, so hopefully bike parking will be included too!