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Bike riders save economy $21 on each commute

Cyclist ride into Sydney in the morning rush, using the bike lane in King Street.

Cyclist ride into Sydney in the morning rush, using the bike lane in King Street. Photo: Peter Rae

The federal government wants to increase the number of people who make short trips by foot or bicycle after a report card on the performance of Australia's cities found rapid changes in the labour market would pose big challenges to transport infrastructure.

The economy benefits by more than $21 every time a person cycles 20 minutes to work and back and $8.50 each time a person walks 20 minutes to and from work, according to a policy statement released by Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Tuesday.

Mr Albanese said the construction of walking and riding paths was relatively cheap compared with other modes of transport. A bicycle path costs only about $1.5 million a kilometre to plan and build.

"We need to get more people choosing alternatives to the car": Anthony Albanese.

"We need to get more people choosing alternatives to the car": Anthony Albanese. Photo: Nic Walker

The government has agreed that, where practical, all future urban road projects must include a safe, separated cycle way.

"For shorter trips we need to get more people choosing alternatives to the car," Mr Albanese said in a speech. "People will walk or cycle if it's safe and convenient to do so."

The economic benefits of riding and walking to work include better health, less congestion, reduced infrastructure costs, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, better air quality, noise reduction and savings in parking costs.

The government also released the State of Australian Cities 2013 report, which said changing workforce patterns ''would pose major challenges'' for transport infrastructure planning.

"Connections between the places that people live and where they work in major cities are important to their productivity and also to equality of opportunities," the report said.

It found that higher-skill, higher-paying jobs were increasingly concentrated in central areas of cities. Job growth tends to be lowest in the outer suburbs of Sydney and other big cities. "This means that more and more workers are facing long commutes to get to work," Mr Albanese said.

"This limits the productive capacity of highly skilled women who can have primary responsibility for children and ageing relatives. The report finds they are more likely to accept a poorer-quality, lower-paid job closer to home. This is particularly evident in newer suburbs."

The report drew attention to the high cost of parking in Australian cities. Sydney was recently ranked the third most expensive central business district in the world in which to park a car.

The report also warned that extreme weather events, especially heatwaves, would take a bigger toll on cities in future. The report forecast the number of annual heat-related deaths in Sydney would climb from 72 to 129 between 2011 and 2050 - a rise of 80 per cent.

"Those at highest risk from heatwaves include the elderly, the socially disadvantaged such as those on lower incomes or the homeless, and those with underlying medical conditions," it said.

94 comments

  • The main reason I don't cycle to/from work? Magpie attacks! It's mid-winter, and I was pecked in the head the other day!

    Commenter
    rojo
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    July 31, 2013, 9:50AM
    • Then you should be wearing a helmet.

      Commenter
      MotorMouth
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 10:11AM
    • Motormouth. He probably was. Helmets are not big slabs of all encasing concrete. They have these things call air vents in them to help release heat from the rewarding physical exercise.

      Pro-tip. Get a cheap pair of glasses and stick them on the back of the helmet. Magpies think you're watching them if they see the glasses when they mostly swoop from behind.

      Commenter
      Alan
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 10:29AM
    • Seen a few people with cable ties protruding from their helmet - I'm told this is a deterrent to magpies?

      Commenter
      BG
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 10:48AM
    • @Alan.

      Genius!

      Commenter
      Koolerking
      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 11:02AM
    • BG, I thought those cable ties were people trying to look like Nintendo characters. Or they just saw someone else doing it and wanted to be one of the cool kids.

      MotorMouth is spot on idetifiing helmets as part of the issue here. Fixing our repressive helmet laws would go a long way towards encouraging people to go back to using bicycles for everyday transport.

      I know there'll be a lot of people who will disagree with me, but can you name an example where reform was tried and didn't work? Darwin seem to be doing well with it.

      Don't just tell me about supposed injuries. I already know how badly the Netherlands and Denmark and everyone in London and Paris are suffering from that problem.

      Commenter
      John G
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 11:23AM
    • would those glasses with eyes on springs be as effecttive?

      Commenter
      Red
      Location
      Under the Bed
      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 11:47AM
    • Scientific tests (really - well kind of - scientists were involved) discovered the most effective deterrent to be a giant afro wig - the challenge is to find one that fits over your helmet. Glasses, painted eyes etc I have never found to be effective

      Commenter
      Tom
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 12:15PM
    • Good points, Alan. I've been pecked many times through the slits in my helmet, so I'll try a combination of reverse sunnies and cable ties as spring approaches.
      Of course, riding a bike after 8am or so is not a good idea in S.E. Queensland, where local noon is near 11.30am, as compulsory bicycle helmets prevent the use of sun-hats.

      Commenter
      DrBob
      Location
      Gold Coast
      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 12:16PM
  • I don't know about the economy, but I save myself more than a few pineapples over the course of a year. :)
    and It's only a saving if you intended on spending money in the 1st place, something that seems pretty unlikely around here.

    Commenter
    Tanuki
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    July 31, 2013, 9:56AM

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