Canberra's first bike barometer recorded nearly 500,000 cyclists in a single spot during its first year of operation; a result the ACT's peak cycling body claims is proof that bike riding delivers millions of dollars in savings to the territory's economy.
The bike barometer installed on Sullivan's Creek Trail at Macarthur Avenue in November 2017 recorded 469,382 passing cyclists in its first year and the territory government expects to the count to hit 500,000 in January.
The government plans to use the data to help plan future active travel infrastructure and is "exploring options" for a second bike barometer in the capital.
An ACT government spokeswoman said March was the most popular month on the Sullivan's Creek Trail, with 50,706 cyclists passing the barometer.
The highest daily count came on Wednesday, February 28, when 2365 people rode past.
"As additional data is collected, we will be able to evaluate the change in cycling participation over time," the government spokeswoman said.
"The ACT government is exploring options for a second bike barometer in the central area."
The barometer records higher counts on weekdays than weekends, suggesting a large number of Canberrans are cycling to work, school and university.
Data published in the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Progress in Australian Regions Yearbook 2018 shows the Canberra-Queanbeyan region has a higher percentage of people cycling to work than any other major Australian urban area.
The report shows that in 2016, 2.7 per cent of people in Canberra and Queanbeyan rode a bike to work, up from 2.3 per cent in 2006. The 0.4 per cent increase was the largest in urban Australia.
Pedal Power ACT chief executive Ian Ross said the organisation estimated that there was an average saving of $14.014 to the ACT economy every time someone hopped on a bike for transport or pleasure.
"Given the 469,382 trips recorded by the bike barometer, this produces a total [annual] saving of $5,671,777.40 to the ACT recorded on the Sullivan’s Creek path," Mr Ross said.
"That's primarily around health costs and productivity gains, but also significant savings in roads and parking and so on."
He said the $5.67 million figure was derived by multiplying the number of trips the bike barometer recorded by the average ACT cycling commute distance of 7.15 kilometres and the estimated per-kilometre cost benefit to the economy of $1.69.
"Given that it’s one location in Canberra, those statistics are fantastic," Mr Ross said.
"We’re not super surprised because we know that about 25 per cent of people [in the ACT] say they cycle regularly, at least once a week.
"But it's nice to see it demonstrated and I think it shows the value of the barometer really.
"It not only collects statistics that are really useful for planners to know, but it's kind of a validation for everyone that cycles past and it's certainly also a demonstration for the cars that go past of the number of cyclists there are."
Mr Ross said there were a number of areas he would like to see considered as the home for a second bike barometer, including Belconnen, where construction is set to start next year on a 4.7-kilometre bikeway.
"I think that infrastructure is really going to demonstrate that when you build it, they will come, particularly if they strategically place [a bike barometer] somewhere to capture the changes in commuting patterns."
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Pedal Power estimated that there was an average saving of $14,014 to the ACT economy every time someone hopped on a bike for transport or pleasure. It should have said an average saving of $14.014.
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