Bicycle usage: increasing in Australia and US but declining in China

Research released by IBISWorld estimates that the
Australian bicycle industry will grow by 17 per cent over the next five years,
starting with the sale of 1.2 million bikes this year. The average cost of each
bicycle is $927.

Of all Australian cities, Canberra has the highest percentage of regular riders, with 13 per cent of residents cycling at least weekly.

The cycling revolution occurring in the US at the
moment, led by New York’s dramatic urban reinvention and installation of bike
lanes, leaves no doubt that both governmental and environmental groups are
succeeding in inspiring a passion for cycling.

Interestingly, however, China is facing the opposite
challenge – their traditional and thriving bike culture is now under threat
from their rapid urbanisation and uptake of the car. There is a need to staunch
the decline of cycling at a time when cars are remaking cities and a growing
middle class is trading two wheels for four.

Statistics obtained from site China Dialogue set the
scene: in 2009, some 45% of trips in China were made by bike; by contrast, in
the United States, the figure was 1%. However, according to the National Bureau
of Statistics of China, car ownership surged from 4 million in 1998 to 35
million in 2008 whilst bicycle ownership dropped from 1.9 to 1.1 bikes per
household between 1995 and 2005. In the 10 years to 2000, cycling as a
percentage of total trips dropped in many of China’s major cities – from 60% to
40% in Beijing and down to 20% in Shanghai and Guangzhou.

For those interested in the cycling revolution and how
the two wheels are incorporated into public and planning policy, you can read
more on the China Dialogue site. It’s a fascinating comparison between the challenges
faced in the US and China, which a particular focus on two cites: San Francisco
and Guangzhou. Read the full article here.

Meanwhile, the debate rages in Sydney with the Roads
Minister challenging the location of cycle ways being introduced by the City of
Sydney. In response, the City claim that consultation on this and other related
issues was extensive and included input and feedback from the RTA!

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