ACT Cycling: no change in a decade

The ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, now the responsibility of the Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), confirms what we have long suspected. Cycling as a mode of transport has not increased in the ACT. In the last 10 years, there has been no statistical significant change in the cycling participation. What should we do differently.

Comparing bad with worse

Remember that Australia is a low cycling country, and the ACT has always had more cycling than the rest of Australia. Comparing ourselves with other Australian cities that do cycling badly makes little sense. We should consider best practice and what high cycling countries are doing right and try to imitate that. When it comes to cycling for transport, the ACT, compared to the rest of the world, is at the back of the pack.

Cycling participation rate

There has been no significant change in the cycling participation rate in the ACT in a decade.

Cycling participation was defined as riding a bicycle for any purpose in any location outside (including a backyard or on a farm) and for any duration. The definition of a bicycle included any device with two or more wheels that can be pedalled. This includes children’s bicycles with training wheels, pedal tricycles and quadricycles, cargo bicycles and electrically assisted bicycles (e-bicycles).

ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 6.

Cycling participation rates have not increased in the ACT since 2019. The National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021 makes it clear. If we see more people on the cycle paths, then it is only due to population increases. There is no statistically significant mode shift to cycling. The last report in 2019 said the same. The survey has been completed 6 times (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021) with no statistically significant change. The approach we have had with cycling over the last decade is not working. 

Here is the quote in full:

“The cycling participation rate over the past week is much higher among males (27.8%, 95% CI: 24.4 – 31.2%) than females (18.9%, 95% CI: 15.9 – 21.9%). Among both genders the participation rate declines as young children become teenagers and then precipitously from teenagers to young adults. No statistically significant increases in participation over the past week were observed across any gender or age group compared with 2019.”

ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, iii.

What are confidence intervals?

“27.8%, 95% CI: 24.4 – 31.2%” has the following meaning: 27.8% mean value and a 95% certainty (confidence interval) from 24.4 to 31.2%.

Figure 3.1 Cycling participation rate. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 6.
Figure 3.1 Cycling participation rate. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 6.

The relationship between men and women cycling remains 2 to 1 with no statistically significant change in a decade.

Figure 3.3 Cycling participation by gender. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 7.
Figure 3.3 Cycling participation by gender. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 7.

Cycling participation by age

As previously noted in the last report, children’s cycling drops off as they enter adolescence and become old enough to get a driver’s licence.

The highest cycling participation rate (measured as those who had ridden in the past week) was among children aged under 10 (Figure 3.4). The cycling participation rate deteriorates marginally among teenagers before dropping precipitously among young adults.

National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 8.
Figure 3.4 Cycling participation by age. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 8.
Figure 3.4 Cycling participation by age. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 8.

There is no statistical significant change in any age group during the last decade. The blue line is the ACT and the red line for Australia. Note that the national average changed between 2019 and 2021 in Australia but did not change in the ACT.

The trend in participation rate by age group since 2011 is shown in Figure 3.5. There is significant uncertainty in many of these estimates and no trend by age group in the ACT is evident from this data.

National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 9.
Figure 3.5 Cycling participation by age and year. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 9.
Figure 3.5 Cycling participation by age and year. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 9.

Less cycling and not more

We are cycling less frequently than in the past year and not more.

Among those who had ridden in the past year and were aged 15 or over who had indicated they had been riding continuously for more than a year, more (44.1%, 95% CI: 35.5 – 52.7%) indicated they were riding less often than more often (21.2%, 95% CI: 14.3 – 28.2%) (Figure 3.10).

National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 13.
Figure 3.10 Cycling frequency. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 13.
Figure 3.10 Cycling frequency. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 13.

Cycling for recreation not transport

In the ACT and Australia, we cycle far more commonly for recreation than transport. This typical for low cycling countries where cycling is mostly seen as a sport. Cycling for transport in comparison is much less common.

Figure 3.11 Cycling for recreation in comparison to cycling for transport. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 13.
Figure 3.11 Cycling for recreation in comparison to cycling for transport. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 13.

Multimodal transport is the exception

ACT Transport hopes that people will cycle to the bus stop or light rail and travel large distances with public transport. The evidence would suggest that combining cycling with public transport is not common. The research for mobility device would suggest the same. Riding to work or to education is more common in ACT than Australia in general.

The main transport purposes for riding were commuting, education and shopping (Figure 3.12). Very few had ridden to access public transport.

ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 14.

Combining cycling and public transport is rare in ACT and therefore hard to get an exact value on it. With the full national sample, the figure lies by just 1.3%. Why it is so low, is something ACT Transport needs to research.

Figure 3.12 Purpose of cycling for transport public transport. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 14.
Figure 3.12 Purpose of cycling for transport public transport. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 14.

Perceptions towards cycling

Only 5% of Canberrans are prepared to ride the most direct path on the road, however, two thirds (66%) would consider riding on a bike path. We know the cycle lanes are non-compliant with Austroads recommendations and collisions with speed difference of 50km/h between the cyclist and traffic are fatal. Cycle lanes on arterials is absurd and should be abolished. Canberrans recognise that cycle lanes are unsafe and would like bike paths. The ACT Government should update the standards to reflect this. Bike paths will encourage mass cycling.

Figure 3.1 Willingness to consider bicycle riding. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 15.
Figure 3.1 Willingness to consider bicycle riding. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 15.

Respondents aged 15 or older who had ridden in the past year were asked about their riding style, including which of the following statements best describes the way they ride their bicycle in the presence of traffic:

1 I prefer paths or quiet streets and am willing to take a longer way to avoid busy roads
2 I prefer to use the most direct and convenient way regardless of traffic
3 I would never ride my bike on a road

Those who indicated they prefer direct routes were classified as confident, those that prefer paths or quiet streets as cautious and those that would never ride on-road as interested. Those that had not ridden in the past year were asked why that was the case; if they indicated they cannot ride for health reasons, do not know how to ride or are not interested in riding they were classified as not interested. Those that did not provide any of these three reasons for not riding were then asked whether they (a) are not a bike rider but would like to be, or (b) do not want to be a bike rider. Those who indicated they would like to ride were classified

ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 15.

Bicycle ownership

Most households in Canberra have at least one bike but that does not mean they have a bike for every person in the household. Particularly, children need their own bike.

Around 67.5% (95% CI: 63.3 – 71.6%) of households in the ACT have at least one working bicycle in their household (Figure 3.14). Around one third of households do not have a working bicycle; this proportion has remained unchanged since the survey was first undertaken in 2011 (Figure 3.15).

ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 17.
Figure 3.15 Bicycle ownership by year. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 16.
Figure 3.15 Bicycle ownership by year. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 16.

Rideables

Electric powered devices are becoming more common. Men or more likely to ride one than women. The ratio 2 to 1 can be attributed to the general difference in cycling participation between men and women, and should not be attributed to electric powered devices specifically. Electric bikes have become very popular with women in other countries.

It is estimated that 4.6% (95% CI: 3.5 – 5.8%) of the ACT population ride an electrically assisted rideable such as an e-scooter, e-skateboard or Segway in a typical week (Figure 4.1). The proportion doing so is significantly higher than the national average. Males appear to be more likely to use rideables than females (Figure 4.2); around 6.1% (95% CI: 4.2 – 7.9%) of males and 3.2% (95% CI: 1.8 – 4.6%) of females ride these devices in a typical week.

ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 17.
Figure 4.2 Population proportions that rode an electrically powered rideable in the past week by gender. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 17.
Figure 4.2 Population proportions that rode an electrically powered rideable in the past week by gender. ACT Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 17.

1 National Report, National Walking and Cycling Participation Survey 2021, Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand (CWANZ), 27 July 2021, 24.

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