We must recognise that in low cycling countries our fears have a large impact on our cycling behaviour and our instincts (feelings) are poorly tuned to the real risk of cycling. A positive experience (enjoyment) makes it more likely that we will cycle again. A mishap in the early stages will discourage further cycling. This is why good cycle infrastructure makes a difference, as it creates a forgiving environment to cycle.
Canberra.bike has often published data about cycling in Canberra. Three facts stand out and are worth remembering, as proof that we could do much better – with leadership.
Safer walking and cycling is most easily achieved by reducing traffic speed. We have known this for over a decade but do too little to curb road speeds. Here is an excellent report that is as relevant as it was in 2008.
80% of Australians care about climate action but it does not change their vote. We know from this climate change example that support is not enough. The way people vote is not only about what is important but also what is most important. What does this tell us about cycling in the ACT?
If Canbera is interested in comparing itself with other cities, we should be benchmarking ourselves with the best cycling cities. Europe leads in that regard. The Copenhagenize Index is another index of city ranking. More cities are added each year.
City rankings can be motivational but unlikely to help city planners prioritise investment decisions. Bicycle Transport Analysis is a basket model for scoring cities for the suitability of cycling from the US. Canberra does very well in this ranking, but the first impression is deceptive as we are comparing ourselves with another LOW cycling country and not a good one like the Netherlands.
Australia comes in last in this country comparison of bicycle use as a percentage of total number of trips. This will be uncomfortable for many Australians, but Australia is certainly a LOW cycling country. Much will need to be done to encourage cycling in Australia. Few ride in Australia, so it is worth looking at a country where they do.
While e-bikes might be displacing some conventional cycling, they are actually extending the “cycling career” of people.
The fact sheet provides a quick introduction to the 2017 ACT Household Travel Survey and probably the best for most people: short and to the point and with nice graphs.
Canberra has four seasons but do we change our cycling habits over the year? It would be good to know.