A huge majority of Victorians are interested in cycling but only if adequate infrastructure was in place to protect their safety, according to a Monash University Study, “The potential for bike riding across entire cities” published this month.
The study, ‘The potential for bike riding across entire cities’ found 76% of surveyed Victorians were ‘interested but concerned’ when asked how confident they would be riding in various conditions.
Respondents were grouped into four categories, based on their responses: Strong and Fearless’ (3%), ‘Enthused and Confident’ (3%), ‘Interested but Concerned’ (78%), and ‘No Way No How’ (16%).
According to the survey’s analysis, people in the Interested but Concerned category are typically people who are comfortable riding only in protected lanes or off-road paths.
The online survey was conducted in 37 local government areas in Victoria, including all municipalities in Greater Melbourne, and a selection of six key regional centres.
It was completed by a total 3,999 people, aged 18 and over, and revealed most participants owned a bike (57%) but only 20% rode at least once per week.
There is a need to identify specific sub-groups of the population that can be classified as the bike riding ‘near-market’
“Our results show the potential for substantial increases in cycling participation but only when high-quality cycling infrastructure is provided,” according to the survey authors, Senior Research Fellow Ben Beck and pHD candidate Lauren Pearson.
“Most people in this study were interested in riding a bike if infrastructure were provided that physically separated them from motor vehicle traffic. While painted bike lanes are a lower cost alternative to providing bicycling infrastructure, these do not constitute physically separated bicycling infrastructure.
“Further research is required to understand the policy and practice barriers to equitable provision of protected infrastructure.
“To increase bike riding participation and to ensure that planning and practice efforts are targeted to the whole community, there is a need to identify specific sub-groups of the population that can be classified as the bike riding ‘near-market’; individuals who would like to start riding a bike,” the authors say.
Don’t Confuse Lack of Involvement with Lack of Interest
“It is vital that a lack of participation is not seen as a lack of interest in bike riding.”
Their report says there were some variations in results between LGAs but interest in riding was high across all areas and demographics.
“Currently, however, bicycling infrastructure is concentrated in inner-Melbourne to support higher volumes of bike traffic … likely contributing to both transport inequities and health inequities through reduced physical activity participation and a potentially increased risk of injury,” it says.
“The provision of protected bicycling infrastructure has the potential to address these inequities and support a potentially latent population of bike riders living in the outer urban fringe regions of Greater Melbourne.
“This would further enable current recommendations in Greater Melbourne of the 20-min-neighbourhood model, that supports people to meet most of their daily needs within a 20-minute trip from home (by walking, riding a bike or using public transport.”
While the survey showed the frequency of cycling was lower among women, their interest in riding a bike was high and comparable to men.
“Despite low participation, over two thirds of women in this study were interested in riding a bike and over half owned a bike. Importantly, many existing bike riding environments are often designed for the needs and confidence levels of men without disabilities,” the report says.
“Infrastructure that enables women to ride a bike includes off-road paths, and bike-infrastructure that is physically separated from motor-vehicle traffic.”