Last month’s official launch of the We Ride Australian Cycling Economy Report was an unprecedented high point for the Australian cycling industry and bike advocacy in this country, according to the Director – National Advocacy for We Ride, Stephen Hodge.
His comments were echoed by the General Manager of Bicycle Industries Australia, Peter Bourke, who said last week the report would help make cycling infrastructure a key issue in many electorates during the next Federal election.
Mr Hodge said the compelling figures in the national report, the calibre of politicians and business people involved in its launch, and the level of industry support for its production all added up to an incredible milestone for Australian cycling.
“This is the best point we have reached and it’s made all the support of the bike industry worthwhile. We have had great support from the industry over the past decade and it’s stepped up each year,” he said.
In particular, he was encouraged by the amount of support among politicians – both at the launch and in general recognition of cycling’s potential.
That included an unprecedented level of ministerial support.
“It’s the culmination of a decade of working with all sides of the house,” Mr Hodge added.
“They are confident that we have the product they are able to stand up and support.
“We needed to present cycling’s economic footprint in a language politicians can understand and to use all our wisdom and experience as advocates to get the message out there.”
He said the report “speaks their language”.
“This report provides the support for politicians who would like to do more, and there are a number out there but have not had the tools behind them or they might have been afraid of voter backlash,” he remarked.
“This report provides a really big way for them to go to their electorates and say ‘this will be a good thing for our economy, this will be a good thing for our community’.
“We all know about bike-lash. We have to do everything in our power to make people smile when the topic of cycling is raised, and when they mention bikes. We need to facilitate politicians to say yes more often.
“It’s vital decision makers don’t dismiss cycling as a toy for middle-aged men wearing lycra. It was important we did this report to increase the status of this activity nationally.”
Mr Hodge said the wider benefits of cycling, to increase physical activity and improve physical and mental wellbeing are “pretty well understood”.
“The report is a complementary piece of work to highlight the indirect benefits,” he added.
“This is the first time the hard dollars are measured, showing where people are spending money. This is the missing piece from our sector.
“It’s a really big moment for us. It is a point We Ride, and the bicycle advocacy group that came before it, have been working towards for a decade and it makes all that work worthwhile.”
Bicycle Industries Australia General Manager Peter Bourke said the report provides great momentum for bike advocacy leading into the next Federal election, which could be called any time between the start of December and May 2022.
“It’s given advocates the tools to go to politicians and ask for greater assistance for cycling, to show how it can be a positive investment and good for their electorate,” Mr Bourke said.
He said there will be electorates where the potential economic and social benefits of getting more people on bikes will be substantial and the report will equip candidates, including members of the major parties, to make cycling infrastructure a part of their election platforms.
“It provides the evidence and resources to advocate for change and counter anti-cycling arguments,” he concluded.