Four million people ride a bicycle at least once a week in Australia, which is nearly one in five people.

The group that participates the most are kids under 9 years old. Around half of all boys and girls ride a bike regularly. But in their teen years, a strange thing happens. Teenage boys ride little bit less (about 45% ride at least once a week) but teenage girls start drop off the radar (down to 30%).

By the time they reach early adulthood (age 18-29) 18% of young men are still regularly riding but only 7% of young women do. Why is this?

A few months ago, a research paper was published about why a lot of girls give up cycling in their teens.

Most of the teenagers interviewed said it was because:

  1. they feel unsafe riding on the road
  2. it takes too long
  3. there's 'no one to ride with'.
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Our family car is lonely. It sits on the street, day after day, not being used. Meanwhile, our cargo bike, which fits one parent and two kids, does at least 120km a week of riding. My husband and I sometimes squabble over who gets to take it for the day. In fact, our cargo bike is so useful that we've recently bought another one. 

Cargo bikes have become popular in our neighbourhood and there are now five cargo bikes doing the regular drop off at our local primary school. Each carries two kids and a parent, totaling fifteen people carried by bicycle: without using petrol, taking up car parking space, or crowding out public transport. And the kids LOVE it. Turning up at the school gate in your personal chariot gets serious kudos, 'even' in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. 

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Reddy Go and oBike dock-less bikeshares hit the streets of Sydney and Melbourne respectively with a lot of media attention. During the weeks preceding and following their launch, fears were generated of waves of broken bikes littering the streets, several organisations reviewing the bikes and systems, and speculation on what this so-called “disruptive technology” will do to our cities. Mostly people are excited and positive and the media attention is valuable free publicity. It is estimated Melbourne now has about 1000 bikes and in Sydney they are spreading out all over inner city, even crossing the harbour and ending up in Milsons Point, with plans to expand to other councils like Parramatta.

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A story from Niall about a crash and the aftermath

I was hit by a car driver while out for a ride in the middle of April.

Doesn’t seem to be too much unusual in that these days.

Beautiful sunny day. Front and rear lights flashing. Riding in the dedicated cycle lane. Life doesn’t get too much better.

The route I was riding is hugely popular with Perth cyclists. A few cars passed me giving me plenty of distance, all respectful drivers.

Bikecrash StockimageThe last one to pass me started to slow down (I figured for the roundabout he was about to enter). Approaching the roundabout from the direction we were heading the options are either go straight or turn right. No worries thought me.  Without indicating, the car turns left to go up a footpath to enter a car park rather than proceed 150 metres through the roundabout to the car park entrance.

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At the recent Velo-City Conference held in Arnhem-Nijmegen in the Netherlands, one of my favourite speakers on the first day was Leo Bormans – author of The World Book of Happiness. He spoke about humans and happiness on the whole, but was also able to relate his studies and philosophies to the bicycle and cities in general. He encouraged us to “let children design your cities – they won’t go for cars”. In a similar vein, Jorn Wemmenhove from Street Makers told us “we should put kids first in everything to improve our cities”. I love the simple idea of these values, kids are the future but are never asked and/or trusted by older people – but we can get so many fantastic ideas by talking to children and designing for them.

This ideology is particularly poignant with the discussion of a 30kmph speed limit in built up areas in Melbourne/Australia, which has been immediately dismissed by many people – despite strong scientific evidence that this lower speed limit would save so many lives. Do we not care about our future, our children? Is that extra minute saved when travelling by car more important than liveable, vibrant, safe cities? How can we still prioritise the convenience of motor vehicles over the lives of humans?

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On the the 1st of April, the RACQ announced they are going to start doing roadside assistance using bicycles

On the the 1st of April, the RACQ announced they are going to start doing roadside assistance using bicycles. No one fell for this April Fool's joke, but we all had a good laugh with the RACQ.


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