One of this week’s more unfortunate mainstream news articles was a story on declining cycling participation rates. This is a marked turnaround from the surge in cycling just a couple of short years ago during the height of the Covid crisis.
There are many possible reasons for this decline, one being less commuting due to more people working from home. The other main reason? You guessed it, safety and the risks we face each and every time we head out onto the road.
Every cycling enthusiast harbours a deep desire for safer roads, more considerate and aware drivers, and better infrastructure that truly suits our needs.
Across Australia, cycling has become more than a mode of transport; it’s a way of life. As the passion for pedalling grows, it’s imperative for our governments to recognise the vital role they play in nurturing this culture, ensuring not just convenience, but safety for all.
The truth is, investing in cycling infrastructure is not merely an expenditure; it’s an investment in a healthier, more sustainable future. It’s an acknowledgment of cycling as a solution to urban congestion, environmental concerns, and personal well-being.
Comprehensive bike lanes, secure parking facilities, and well-maintained paths not only encourage more people to ride but also promote a sense of community and interconnectedness among riders. An example? In a couple of weeks some of the Bicycling Australia writers are getting together for a day on the bike in Sydney. The first step of our planning – ‘Where can we go for a safe day out?’ The conclusion, the 80km out & back M7 bikeway. Yep, it’s as boring as bat poo but is car-free.
Safety, too, must be at the forefront of governmental agendas. Stricter laws protecting cyclists, stringent penalties for close passes and other misconduct, and educational campaigns fostering mutual respect between motorists and cyclists are essential.
Integrating cycling safety education into school curriculums will nurture a generation of responsible riders and drivers, fostering a culture of safety from the ground up.
Look around the world, and you’ll find shining examples of cities where cycling infrastructure is not just a priority but a hallmark of progress. These cities boast healthier populations, reduced traffic congestion and, over time, less pollution.
Australia can and should be one of these success stories, leading the way in making cycling a safe, accessible, and enjoyable experience for all. Sydney to Canberra is a prime example – imagine how popular a ‘Capital Bikeway’ would be! Build it and they will come.
As riders, let’s advocate for these changes. Let’s engage with local authorities, join advocacy groups, and make our voices heard. Together, we can inspire a shift in policy, making our roads safer and our cycling experiences richer.
Happy & safe cycling out there this weekend.
Nat Bromhead, Editor