The facts about numbers of bike riders

18 September 2013

The report in the media this morning is misleading and confused.

It refers to the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Area, which includes Newcastle and Wollongong , not just to the City of Sydney which covers the CBD.

The report they've used also comes with this warning: "Ferry, bicycle, taxi and other mode estimates are subject to high standard errors due to the small sample sizes for these modes."

Here are the facts:

Latest independent counts in the City of Sydney conducted across 100 intersections show the number of people riding bikes over the past three years has more than doubled.

The bi-annual count shows that on some routes, on an average weekday, as many as 2,000 people are choosing to ride into the CBD.

The independent counts found around 2,000 bikes are passing through each of the City's top peak-hour intersections on an average weekday, with significant jumps recorded over the past 12 months:

  • Sydney Harbour Bridge cycleway near Upper Fort Street - 2,248 bike trips, up from 1,730;
  • College, Liverpool and Oxford Street intersection -  2,230 trips, up from 1,795;
  • King Street and Kent Street intersection - 1,979 trips, up from 1,323; and
  • Taylor Square, Oxford Street and Bourke Street intersection - 1,900 trips up from 1,728.

The 2013 Australian Bicycle Council report found twice as many Sydneysiders ride bikes for transport than the national average.

The National Cycling Participation Survey found around 31,600 City of Sydney residents get on a bike in a typical week. The Survey of close to 800 homes in the City of Sydney LGA during March 2013 also found:

  • Almost one in five residents (19 per cent) ride a bike each week, up from 14 per cent in 2011 and higher than the rest of Sydney, which averages 16 per cent;
  • 40 per cent of households have bikes, up from 35 per cent two years ago; and
  • When asked what the City of Sydney should do to encourage bike riding, over 77 per cent of residents want more on-road bicycle lanes, off-road paths and cycleways.

The truth is that the Government's Access Strategy has been warmly welcomed by industry, business and community groups.

The Sydney Business Chamber said ‘this strategy recognises that to be a successful global city we need to embrace change and that will mean a new approach to how we access the centre of Sydney.

"The NSW Government has clearly been listening to stakeholders in the city centre and has integrated a number of the business community’s suggestions and requests into this strategy.

''Most businesses now support staff who want to cycle to work. If it requires that business has to speak up as part of selling this, indeed we should.''

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia – the nation’s peak infrastructure body said the ‘release of Sydney City Centre Access Strategy provides a sensible framework to efficiently manage transport into and across the CBD in the short, medium and longer term’.

The Property Council welcomed the release of the Strategy saying “we need to make serious strides to unwind congestion in the city. A suite of solutions that improve the flow of traffic and pedestrians, escalate capacity across public transport and better integrate modes is welcomed.

''I know the debate about bike paths can be a contentious one - but it is being led by people who work in the city.''

The Tourism and Transport Forum called the strategy a ‘sensible step to keep Sydney’s CBD moving’.

The Committee for Sydney particularly welcomed the emphasis on public transport and pedestrian movements saying “a focus on better pedestrian access is also vital as over 90 per cent of trips in the CBD are taken on foot. The strategy recognises that more needs to be done to make walking easier.

"This Strategy is not just a 'business as usual' approach. It includes the big city thinking that is needed to get more people into and around the CBD. It is reassuring to see the ongoing commitment to light rail, strategic improvements for pedestrians and the continued roll out of cycleways."

It is worth noting again that research around the world shows that, if you invest in safe bike infrastructure, people will use it.

An increasing number of cities around the world, including London, Paris, New York, Vancouver and Melbourne are providing bicycle infrastructure separated from traffic.

In London, the biggest ever census of bike use in the city found bikes now account for 24 per cent of all road traffic in central London during the morning peak and 16 per cent across the whole day.

The census revealed one in four road users during the morning rush hour is a cyclist - and on key routes such as river crossings and roundabouts, bikes even outnumber all other vehicles.

A recent survey by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found over half a million New Yorkers ride a bike at least several times a month.

The NSW Government has set an ambitious target of doubling local and district trips by bike by 2016 and the City’s work to build a network of safe, separated cycleways will be essential if they want to meet that target.

Last updated: Wednesday, 8 January 2014