The National Cycling Strategy launched by the Federal Government in 2011 set out to double participation in cycling in Australia by 2016.  As part of the assessment of the success of the strategy, a survey was carried out in 2011 to establish existing participation,with biennial surveys to be carried out to monitor progress.  The first biennial results were released this month, and show that participation in cycling has actually declined since the strategy was launched.  The full report can be downloaded at  You have to register ( a free process that takes a minute) with Austroads to get the pdf, but its worth it if you are interested in what is really happening throughout the country.

Clearly something is failing to connect with the majority of Australians if, after twenty years or so of "cycling promotion" participation is in decline now, and is still, as a percentage of population, less than it was in 1986.  


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If the cycling rate keeps going backwards any new promise to double it should be easier to achieve than before. Think of those unfortunate Dutch towns with a 60% cycling rate - they'd never be able to double it. If we can get our cycling rate down to a single cyclist then doubling it should be easy. What a win that would be.

The UK experience with promises to double the cycling rate:

Disappointing, Alan, if it's true.

I'm just an observer, not an expert, so I don't have answers, just observations -

1 - I think cycling numbers will increase, as other modes become increasingly frustrating for users.

2 - Canberra's "Walking , Riding etc" study of 2012, run by the Major Cities Unit, was weak from the outset, then fell over altogether.  That didn't engender confidence in the Feds.

3 - Perhaps the pollies (who decide where the money is spent) don't respond to the bike community like they do to the noisier lobbies, who are not only very well organised, but rich - think mining.

4 - Item 3 might be partly fixed if the Cyclists Party gets up, but it will be a long road.

5 - In the meantime, we should just be ever vigilant that the freedoms we have as cyclists are not whittled away by the new conservative powers in our society.

Thanks for listening.

In some ways I'm not surprised, given the number of recalcitrant local councils, crying poor and can't afford any bike plans or enhancements.

A lot of the councils were caught out in the GFC with their (our) funds and are cutting budgets where they can.

Hornsby and North Sydney councils just don't want to know about cycling.

They say they are waiting for the state government to release their plan along with cash.

Not sure what the federal govt can do about it. The coalition will probably ignore the strategy anyway.

Bring on the ACP!

The number of kms cycled per cyclist is probably rising, because there is an increase in inner city commuters who ride every day.   I'd expect a lot of them even if fairly slow, to have riding budgets out in the 2000 km per year vicinity, where as the true casual has a budget that is typically below 600km per year.  ie you can have both reduced participation, and increased use.

Its also a phone survey aimed at the household, which probably misses the 20something with no licence, which is a steadily growing segment in Australia.

and its also as new suburbs form, they are further away from city centers which means if you adjust surveys to include them, you dilute the percentage of inner city people included in the survey.

they say for NSW in the Fact Sheet:

The cycling participation rate has not changed
between 2011 and 2013 at the state level,
although there has been a statistically significant
increase in participation in Sydney and a
decrease in regional NSW.

so not all doom and gloom, since Sydney is what, 4.5 million out of the total state of 7m? although must have been a relatively big decrease in the regions to match Sydneys increase.

Sydney and the ACT were the only places in the country to record a (small) statistically significant increase in participation between 2011 and 2013.  Rather annoyingly, the full report breaks down participation into recreational, commuting, shopping etc for all states except NSW, so its a bit hard to get a clear picture.  Also, "Sydney" as defined in the survey stretches from Fingal Bay in the North to South Durras, and west as far as Wombeyan Caves and Blackheath.

I guess for Sydney Cyclist readers, you have to bear in mind that changes in participation include children's cycling (decreasing) and all recreational cycling. The latter alone (but including children's recreational) accounts for over 80% of participation across the country.  Possibly increased commuter cycling in Sydney within the inner city core contributed significantly to the small increase across the greater Sydney area.  I really couldn't say.


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