Cycling survey: Canberrans mostly bike to uni, women under-30 are cycling more

Cycling survey: Canberrans mostly bike to uni, women under-30 are cycling more

Graphic designer Melissa Bareis rides to and from work on a Backbone BMX, looking for little jumps along the way to make the ride more entertaining.

She's one of a growing number of young women choosing to cycle in the ACT.

The boy managed to break away after the attack.

The boy managed to break away after the attack.Credit:Karleen Minney

"The ride between Braddon [home] and Kingston [work] is great," Ms Bareis said.

While most of us are sitting in cars or buses on the way to our day jobs, Ms Bareis treats her daily commute as "this awesome little adventure".


"It's uninterrupted bike paths the whole way and such a great way to start and end the day," Ms Bareis said.

"And it's way more fun than a commute. It's just easy to get around Canberra on a bike."

An Australian Bicycle Council survey released Monday has shown the amount of under-30s cycling, especially teenagers and women, has increased.

In Canberra, the number of women aged 18 to 29-years-old cycling has risen with the number of men cycling in that age bracket remaining flat since the last survey in 2015.

Forty-three percent of Canberrans had cycled in the last month for transport, with the majority–25 per cent–of those commuters riding to school or university.

Ms Bareis is one of a growing number of Canberra women with a passion for BMX bikes. On weekends, you'll find her at the Belconnen or Kambah BMX tracks or a suburban skate park, practising jumps and tricks.

"I have a group of friends and there are other girls that ride as well - there's a real BMX community," she said.

"We're not competitive, it's about adventure, fun and getting a good workout!"

While she grew up on a skateboard and previously rode around town on a second-hand road bike, Ms Bareis said she swapped her old bike for a brand new BMX.

"Once I got a BMX it was just so much more fun," she said.

"I just really enjoy riding a BMX. It's more free."

The survey showed 69 per cent of Canberrans who cycled in the last month had done so for recreation, lower than the national average of 81 per cent.

Around two-thirds of Canberra households have access to at least one working bike, with 36 per cent of households having access to three or more.

BMX is a way of life for Ms Bareis and husband Tyson Jones-Peni, a pro-BMXer and part owner of Backbone BMX in Belconnen. He's sponsored by United Bike Co and clothing brands like Vans and Hammer Down, and is paid in products to promote the brands via social media.

"I guess you could say we live and breathe BMX," Ms Bareis laughed.

"I'd love to see more and more Canberra women get into it."

The main reason Canberrans gave for not cycling were the long distances, with 60 per cent of those surveyed saying more off-road paths and cycleways would encourage them to cycle more.

Pedal Power ACT's Anne Treasure said the government could be investing more in infrastructure but had been doing a good job of encouraging cycling.

"A small jump in women riding which should be actively supported and encouraged," Ms Treasure said.

ACT transport minister Meegan Fitzharris said one of her objectives was to get more women and kids cycling in Canberra.

"There's obviously some [infrastructure] improvements we can make and we make them each year," Ms Fitzharris said.

with Finbar O'Mallon

Bree Element is the life and entertainment editor at The Canberra Times

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