December 25 rider numbers plummet to new low

Not a sight you see on December 25 but, the next day, riders are out in force... On the Akuna Bay route

There are several traditions I observe each year on the morning of the December 25 public holiday (usually; last year being an exception). One of them is to go for a longish bike ride. Another is to write something about it here – mostly to exult in how little motor traffic there was, to whinge about how few other cyclists I saw on my ride, and to harangue my reader for missing out on the best morning of the year to ride. I don't know why I bother since my reader seems to be paying no attention, judging how cyclist numbers keep plummeting. But that's not going to stop me.

This year's observed rider rate was no exception, as might be expected, given recent statistics released by the Australian Bicycle Council. The ABC figures showed that all government efforts at increasing rider numbers had failed, indeed there were fewer cyclists than six years ago, so the goal of doubling participation would be abandoned in the hope such a tactic would work better. No doubt these efforts included things like the ongoing NSW police Operation Pedro and Dunce Gay's advocacy exercises in removing cycleways, increasing fines to obscene levels, and demonising bike riders generally. With Dunce now out of the way, things can surely only improve.

But I digress. You want to hear numbers, I know.

OK, then. How does twenty (20) in 60 km sound? I'll give you multiple choice options:

(a) Dismal

(b) Abysmal

(c) Utterly dire

(d) All of the above

Yep, that was it. Twenty other riders between 7.00 and 9.30 a.m. over that distance on a popular North Shore circuit and on some otherwise well-used shared paths. A mere 0.3 cyclists per km, when the figure of one/km is a low benchmark I have observed in previous years. I'm going for (d) and maybe adding (e) Diabolically Awful, and (f) Totally Irresponsible Waste Of Good Riding Time. For shame, Sydney Cyclists!

All right, there were possibly some mitigating factors. The weather was one. It was dismal. There was a threat of rain. But that was all it was, a threat. Yes, there was some drizzle. But drizzle is not rain. Yes, the roads were damp in places. But even so, there was hardly any spray off the Lynskey's tyres. Yes, it was cool, with temperatures hovering around 15 degrees, according to my Garmin. Actually a blessed relief from the heat of recent days. A couple of times I felt my rear tyre slip, under sudden braking and on a steep, out-of-the-saddle climb. It was necessary to be cautious, especially on downhill bends. But, in reality, it was glorious out there, and even some of the few motorists seemed to be infused with public holiday spirit, showing patience and allowing extra overtaking space.

My route took me north along Pacific Highway, where I saw my first two riders. One was on the footpath, even in the minimal motor traffic conditions, such is the hostile vibe that bit of road gives off. I descended Fullers Rd to Lane Cove National Park's Riverside Drive, normally a hotbed of cycling activity early on weekends and holidays. No-one. Oh, there was a woman, on a strange, small-wheeled, bicycle-shaped-object powered by a treadle system, panting up the hill near De Burghs Bridge, who I counted as number three.

Onto the M2 shoulder, then the shared path up to Kissing Point Rd. Crickets. One guy riding down the road as I exited at the Turramurra side. A fifth rider was coming out of KCNP, while number six was the bloke wearing the official French 2011 Paris-Brest-Paris shirt who overtook me on the descent to Bobbin Head. I was somewhat annoyed I didn't get the chance to find out who he was and compare notes, though it's been 22 short years since I was there.

By the time I reached the bottom of the hill, the tally had doubled, (without government assistance, or perhaps because of lack of it) and a few riders were descending as I climbed towards Mt Colah.

There was a 16th rider remounting outside an open cafe at Asquith (which blows that excuse out of the water) and another bike parked beside him (which doesn't count; I need to see riders). 

From there all the way home via my patented backstreet route plus bits of still-quiet Pacific Hwy, I saw a mere four more riders.

I've said it before and I'll say it until I'm blue in the face: I simply can't understand such blatant failure by bike riders to take advantage of the year's best riding day. What am I missing? Is there something else on today??

Views: 190

Comment by Bill Parker on December 25, 2017 at 12:22pm

What can I say Neil, all those trees & hills on the north side are clearly an impediment to cycling. 

Over here in the south cycling continues to boom. I didn’t have much time this morning so a quick circuit, less than an hour, out to centennial park, bondi junction and down oxford st. 

52 bicycles, 54 cyclists (one tandem, one tagalong), plus me of course. 

People kept saying “hello santa”, can’t understand it  

Comment by Neil Alexander on December 25, 2017 at 1:43pm

Are you sure you weren't on the North Shore earlier, Bill? I passed what appeared to be a discarded Santa suit somewhere in my travels this morning. At least the Lynskey twins had some exercise today.

Comment by Dabba on December 25, 2017 at 4:22pm

I like the bell placement Bill. Nothing quite like bending the law to suit yourself, just like the political parasites do!

Comment by Bill Parker on December 26, 2017 at 7:15pm

Your addendum is correct, perhaps boxing day is better for a count, headed off to La Perouse via a few loops of centennial park on the way and got to 100 before losing count well before La Perouse, restarted the count on the return journey and by the return few park loops was again struggling with numbers in excess of 100 so lets say 200+

Comment by Dan on December 28, 2017 at 8:51pm

I found this post.

And my Christmas is complete.

I didn't ride on the 25th. But then, I don't do 'leisure rides' any more...

Comment by Snowy_5 on December 29, 2017 at 8:26pm

The reason is that`s the parents fault for providing the liquid refreshments to Santa and he can`t deliver bikes to all houses.

Comment by jrjr on January 2, 2018 at 8:35am

Sydney Olympic Park xmas morn - saw about a dozen all up.

New Years morn was even quieter - rode up to Bobbin - didn't see anyone until Turramurra cafe, and only a few cars

Comment by Bob Moore on January 2, 2018 at 9:30am

Very quiet roads round here, I really oughta get out, but missus wants to me to stay in to ensure a delivery of tea, yes tea, gets made. Will I or won't I? Maybe a few laps of Lilyfield Rd, half work, half fun. Or A bit of chicken on the roundabouts in Fivedock. 

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