The Australian Bicycling Landscape
From city commutes to scenic countryside rides, Australia offers a wide range of biking experiences. The major cities generally have mild climates and wealthy governments that can provide suitable conditions for implementing cycling infrastructure. Urban centres are also generally flat, which makes commuting with bicycles ideal, along with the fact that approximately 60% of our trips are now less than 5km1. Yet, despite these advantages, the share of bicycle transport in Australia remains relatively low compared to other developed nations2.
The Importance of Bicycle Safety
The key to increasing bicycle transport mode share in Australia lies in addressing safety concerns. Several factors highlight the significance of prioritising bicycle safety:
Safety Perception: Many Australians perceive cycling as a risky mode of transportation, with 76% of Australians saying they would choose cycling if they felt safer1. Addressing these safety concerns is essential to encourage more people to choose bikes over unhealthier and carbon-emitting forms of transport.
Accident Rates: Australia’s accident rates for cyclists are higher than in many other developed countries. Focusing on safety can help reduce these rates and enhance the overall cycling experience.
Vulnerable Road Users: Cyclists are considered vulnerable road users. Ensuring their safety is not just a matter of promoting sustainable transport but also a matter of public health.
The Role of BikeSpot
As a vital component of the national Safe Cycling program, BikeSpot 2023 was recently launched, marking Australia’s most extensive crowd-sourcing bike safety project to date. The website is a valuable online platform that can significantly contribute to promoting bicycle safety and increasing its transport mode share in Australia. Here’s how:
Data Collection and Analysis: BikeSpot collects data on safe and unsafe locations for cycling from the public. The descriptive and location-based data is essential for traffic engineers and city planners to identify trouble spots and prioritise safety improvements.
Community Engagement: BikeSpot engages the cycling community in the safety conversation. Cyclists can report issues, share experiences, and suggest improvements on the platform. This direct involvement encourages a sense of ownership and responsibility among cyclists.
Safety Improvements: Armed with data and community input, city planners and traffic engineers can make informed decisions regarding safety improvements. This might include installing dedicated bike paths, better bike lane design, traffic signal optimisation, and intersection safety enhancements.
Promotion of Biking Culture: BikeSpot can also be used to promote a biking culture in Australia. It offers an opportunity to showcase success stories, share biking tips, and encourage more people to take up cycling. Building a positive cycling community can help reduce safety concerns and boost mode share.
Data-Driven Policy: Policy decisions should be data-driven. BikeSpot provides the necessary data for authorities to make informed choices about investing in cycling infrastructure and safety measures.
In summary, although a myriad of barriers still remain for bicycle mode share uptake, this web-based tool is a key step in the right direction to create more awareness around bicycling as a transport option and improve sustainability and safety criteria within the greater transportation landscape.