If one extra person is riding their bike, feeling confident about being active in their community and contributing towards the sustainability of our environment – then Pedal Power ACT is doing its job. The tabling of the 2015 National Cycling Participation Survey (funded by Roads ACT's contribution to the Australian Bicycle Council) was always going to provide some insight as to how we are travelling (pun intended).
There’s a lot in the findings that is encouraging for the region. Data like:
- Absolute cycling numbers in the ACT have increased by 3.7% since 2011
- 81,900 people in the ACT ride their bike at least once a week
- 4.4% more (172,500 total) people in the ACT have started riding their bike at least once a year since 2011
- The overall participation rate of riders in the ACT is still 23% higher than the national average
- 83% of those surveyed (over the age of 15) said they felt comfortable while riding a bike
However, there was one particular statistic in the Survey that was alarming, and Pedal Power ACT has never been one to ignore an area for improvement. An area that suggests, we can do more.
We all remember being five years old, and running our legs along the ground before putting them on the pedals of our bike. Our parent releasing the back of the seat and us riding without training wheels for the first time. We most likely fell over after a few metres. But we did it. We had a sense of adventure, and were now armed with a new accomplice – our bike.
The 2015 National Cycling Participation Survey (ACT) has indicated children 0-9 years participation rates were at 34%. The national average for this age group is stated to be 49%.
0-9 years is the only age group by which the ACT did not equal, or exceed, the national average for cycling participation rates in 2015. Unfortunately, we did not even come close. A 15% gap is enormous, and we can safely say that Pedal Power ACT and the ACT Government now has some work to do in this area.
A relevant question to ask is when did a large portion of children in the ACT stop riding their bicycle? And why? An even bigger concern is if these children aren’t riding a bicycle, are they at least being active and healthy through other means?
Pedal Power ACT knew this age group was one that needed attention, but not as severely as reality would suggest. In our 2015-2017 strategy we introduced initiatives such as the “Ride or Walk to School Program” and “Education & Training in Cycling” aimed at children as part of our “More Canberrans Riding” strategic objective.
The Survey wasn’t able to ask sample group respondents under the age of 15 attitudinal questions, so as to the reason why the ACT’s participation rates were significantly beneath the average for children aged 0-9 years is something we are going to have to investigate further to better understand how to address the issue.