Friday 10, May 2013
Cycling is enjoying a comeback all across Sydney. An increasing number of Sydneysiders are taking advantage of bicycles to help them avoid traffic congestion, save on the cost of fuel and more easily manoeuvre around what can often be unpredictable public transportation. Whether you ride your bicycle for transportation, for pleasure or for sport, you are in great company.
Cycling in Australia has long been a popular activity. The first big cycling boom occurred more than 100 years ago during the 19th century. The velocipede, which was invented in the 1860s, was wildly popular with men, women and children, and the first velocipede races in 1869 attracted thousands to the Melbourne Cricket Ground. These early cycles were not easy to ride or steer, however, and so their popularity dropped as more user-friendly bicycles began to appear on the horizon.
These new models, which included high wheelers, or bicycles with a small back wheel and large front wheel, were far easier to handle. Cycling began to draw people from all walks of life, and young Australians began to form cycling clubs, which offered them increased opportunities for riding, for socialization and for the organization of races and other competitions. Long-distance racing and touring were favourite year-round activities and attracted not just members of all parts of Australian society but also cyclists from around the world.
Cycling began to decline as urban areas sprawled out and transportation options expanded. As more people discover the joys of this more affordable, healthy and convenient form of travel, however, the appeal widens. Cycling is also becoming a more popular pastime. As Australians focus more on health, they look for more active hobbies and pleasurable forms of exercise. It’s no wonder then that the popularity of bicycling has increased more than 80 percent in just the last two years.
In fact, in 2011, nearly 3 percent of people rode bicycles to work, which is a 115 percent increase from 2001. The inner city enjoys the highest rate of cycling. As cycling becomes more popular, Sydney’s traffic becomes less congested, and the air we breathe can be cleaner. Cycling can also help reduce greenhouse emissions and obesity rates.
Cycling for transportation or pleasure requires more than just a bicycle, however. Sydney’s infrastructure must be designed to better accommodate cyclists safely and efficiently. Dedicated lanes, bike parks and other amenities can make the decision to cycle to work even easier. Cyclists can also play an active role in boosting their numbers by encouraging acceptance. Cycling safely, using hand signals to indicate turns or lane changes, slowing at corners and giving pedestrians right-of-way can ensure cyclists continue to coexist peacefully with other Sydneysiders.