Canberra the cycling capital of Australia, study finds
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Canberra the cycling capital of Australia, study finds

Cycling is more popular in the ACT than in any other state or territory, says new research released by the Australian Bicycle Council.

The research, which was released earlier this month in reports on the council's five-year national cycling strategy, found Australian states and territories invested $11.8 million in cycling-related infrastructure, education and promotion during last year.

Cycling is more popular in the ACT than in any other state or territory.

Cycling is more popular in the ACT than in any other state or territory.

Photo: Rohan Thomson

The council, which is comprised of representatives from each state and territory road authority, reported cycling became more popular in the ACT during 2013, although national cycling participation rates decreased slightly from 2011 records.

An annual household report found 47 per cent of Canberrans said they had cycled on at least one occasion in the past year, which was the highest percentage in Australia. By comparison, only 37.4 per cent of Australians said they had ridden some time during last year.

The ACT also had the highest number of people admitting they’d cycled in the past month or week, with 34 and 24 per cent respectively, which was another increase on 2011 figures.

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Canberra Cycling Club president Stuart Jones said he was not surprised at the report's findings, saying it was well known Canberra had excellent infrastructure for cycling.

''The [club] organises a number of races to bring people into the ACT and they often comment on the good facilities we have,'' he said.

''Also, from a competitive point of view, the terrain around Canberra is perfect for training, so it's not uncommon for people to come from outside Canberra to train here.''

Mr Jones said the number of non-competitive cyclists who were joining in participation rides at cycling events had noticably increased over the past five years.

''It is very popular here and it's great to see how many people are still commuting to work through the bike paths and the bike lanes ... I think for commuting, Canberra is one of the easiest places to give it a go if you're willing to try it,'' he said.

Roads ACT program director Peter Thompson, who is the territory's representative on the Australia Bicycle Council, said the findings showed the ACT was progressing according to plan, with more people choosing to cycle.

''We’re doing a lot of work around Canberra to provide for cyclists and to keep them safe on the roads,'' he said.

Mr Thompson said cycling had proved popular in recent years as the city had several advantages compared to other capitals, such as wider road networks and the ability to take bikes on public transport.

''In Canberra we’re got the ability for bikes to be taken on the front of our buses, which gives people the opportunity to split their trip between cycling and public transport,'' he said.

''When Canberra was developed by the federal government we had a lot of wider roads, which made it much easier for road cycling with safety.''

The Australian Bicycle Council also found bicycles outsold cars in Australia for the 14th consecutive year in 2013, with 1.4 million bicycles sold nationally.

Mr Thompson said while this was welcome news, it was probably due to the quick turnover of bicycles and the fact a bike can only accommodate one person, while a standard car could carry at least five people.

Mr Thompson said he was not concerned about the slight decline in cycling nationally despite the increased popularity in the ACT.

''We didn't see that it was a significant decline and we believe that it will bounce back in coming years,'' he said.