Xmas Day cycling participation rate plummets in 2012

A pretty poor turnout this morning chaps... and especially you ladies.

My continuing totally unscientific and non-exhaustive statistical analysis of December 25 cycling participation rates on popular routes  showed a phenomenal near-complete lack of interest in riding evident in 2012, with women some eight times less likely to cycle.

On a 42km circuit today taking in Chatswood, Lane Cove National Park, Shrimptons Creek SUP, John Whitton Bridge at Meadowbank, Bicentennial Park in Homebush, and returning home via Putney, Ryde and Lane Cove, I saw a total of nine (9!) other cyclists, eight of whom were male. Sad.

There were two other riders in LCNP -- I see that many when I go there at night for some surreptitious hill training, although there are usually more brushtail possums and rabbits. On weekends and pub-hols there are usually dozens of cyclists riding Riverside Drive.

One other cyclist was on the Shrimptons Ck path, accompanying his female partner who was walking a dog. They needed the entire width of the path apparently but I had been prepared for erraticism by the other pedestrians who frequent the area and dodged them all easily.

Most of the rest of the riders I saw, including the only woman, were in Bicentennial Park, its network of shared paths normally thronged with cyclists today virtually abandoned with only more erratic walkers to fill the gaps.

So, to what do we owe this negative surge in velocipedic activity?

As I have noted in previous years, the cafes are closed, at least on the north side of Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River (though I have a suspicion -- memo to self: check next year -- that one or more at Balmoral Beach might be trading...) This excuse may no longer be entirely valid if the brave attempt at trend-setting by the cafe owner in Bowden St, Ryde, near the corner with Victoria Rd, is successful. Admittedly his caffeine-purveying premises were entirely devoid of customers, be they cyclists or mere mortals, as I passed but, who knows what could happen when word gets out that performance-enhancing substances are available here on Xmas Day.

Also, today, the weather was crap threatening overcast and dull and there was a little standing water from overnight rain. There was, then, a small risk that the paintwork on your Pinarello Dogma might be slightly marred by picking up a little dirt from tyre spray... Is this sufficient reason for lying in bed like a lazy slob on one of the lowest traffic cycling days of the year? I don't think so! But, of course, I don't own a PD, so what would I know? The temperature, however, was perfect and the humidity only a little excessive -- no real excuse there.

I suppose the other excuse which you could pull out for lack of interest or non-performance might be some sort of injury -- hey, a sore knee would be a good one.

Is that really why hardly anyone else was out, then?

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Comment by Eleri on December 25, 2012 at 8:59am

I don't know Neil.  Maybe it's the more sedate north side that's the problem!  

I rode with SU Velo this morning out to La Perouse.  A big bunch, with probably one quarter women at least. 

Comment by Bill Parker on December 25, 2012 at 9:27am
We knew that you would be out there for us Neil so figured we could give it a miss, after all if at least one cyclist is out there then they can't remove the extensive network of cycle friendly roads and paths can they? My own count of kiddies riding new christmas bicycles in my street this morning indicates zero, completely consistent with last year unfortunately but at least no decline ?
Comment by Neil Alexander on December 25, 2012 at 9:31am

Hey, EMT, be careful. There is no "problem" with the north side. It may not be "party central" but that's the way some of us like it!

Comment by Jon on December 25, 2012 at 9:36pm

mmm.. I like cycling, but I'm not going to pass up a free meal at my parents :)

Comment by Neil Alexander on December 26, 2012 at 8:06am

It's not an either/or, Jon. More a "work off lunch in advance" ride while enjoying a morning with the quietest roads of the year.

S'funny, though, I didn't see even one other cyclist as I rode around noon and after five pm between Willoughby and Leichhardt, travelling to and from Xmas lunch at the rello-in-laws through intermittent showers and thunderstorms. Mind you, the traffic was a lot heavier but, on that route, it is possible to bypass busy roads almost completely.

Riding in the rain is still a sh!tload more enjoyable than driving in it. Especially if one has mudguards.

Comment by Jon on December 26, 2012 at 8:20am

I'm not saying it's an either or for everyone. For some of us though, the plans would be rather complicated to squeeze in a bike ride, particularly when we come from non-cycling families.

Riding in the rain is still a sh!tload more enjoyable than driving in it.

Definitely. I don't even have mudgaurds, and when I came to that realisation is when I realised I identify as a Cyclist who on occasion drives a car.

Comment by baa baa on December 26, 2012 at 5:00pm

This will never take off unless the morning ride can be seen as a once a year ride on a special day.

I suggest you find a major sponsor and then rename the day to something like VodaComday, Benson&Camelday or DanMcMurphysday. Bike riders seem to find no trouble getting out on the saddle for these sorts of named rides.

*even ride of dies natalis solis invictidie sounds like more fun than Riding on Xmas (cum indigens amplus luto praesidio)

**When no riders about, best beware of the smell of the Beige Bicentennial Park Ibis.

Comment by Ma Dame Vélo on December 28, 2012 at 8:08am

As i mentioned in an earlier thread, I was out of town.  Then we had to drive back to Sydney after lunch and I was obliged to cook a dessert item to take to my in-laws luncheon on Boxing Day (at Windsor).  So those days were a write off for cycling for us.  I did ride yesterday though and will ride tomorrow.  My plan is to ride every second day for these two weeks while I am not at work in a last-minute preparation for the Audax.


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