Many cities and towns often do not have the right infrastructure in the right places to support walking and cycling. Providing the wrong infrastructure could lead to more driving, further contributing to traffic congestion. Some simple initiatives can help to build a walking and bicycle culture in cities.
To change people’s transport habits, we need walking and cycling infrastructure that is safe enough for everyone to use whether they are a nine-year-old cycling to school or an 80-year-old grandmother walking to the local shops. Research in Queensland, Australia showed that 70 percent of people on bicycles are middle-aged men. Very few women and children ride bicycles on a regular basis.
More people walking and riding a bicycle can reduce urban traffic congestion, support local shops, improve air quality, reduce noise, improve our health, well-being and fitness levels, reduce personal and family transport expenses and costs, connect people to their community and local environment as well as provide people of all ages with a sense of transport freedom.
We can all be part of creating and improving walking and cycling infrastructure revolution. Here’s simple ways we can get involved.
1. Data on cyclists spending
Imagine the next time you are in a cafe with your cycling friends that you calculate how much you collectively spend. Imagine your local cafe tweeting, “30 people on bicycles just spent 600 Australian dollars on coffee and lunch”. Research by Alison Lee in Lygon Street, Melbourne showed that each square metre allocated to bike parking generates 31 Australian dollars per hour, compared to 6 Australian dollars generated for each square metre used for car parking.
2. Data on arrivals by bicycle
Imagine if your local shops converted one unused button on their cash register to record the number of people arriving by bicycle. Imagine the greengrocer, newsagent and cafe all recording hundreds of people arriving by bike. Many tourist attractions collect data on the number of people arriving by boat, bus and bike. This data can be used to get funding for new infrastructure for example bicycle parking.
3. Data on where cyclists live
Imagine if we all did a bicycle census in our own suburb or street. The 2012 Australian Local Government cycling participation survey told us that just over half of all households had access to a working bicycle. Imagine if we asked people in the street where we live about their bikes and if their bikes are in good working order. Many schools have systems to collect journey to and from school data each and every month. The process means that schools had real data for numeracy projects and council had hard evidence to justify new footpaths and bikeways.
If we are really passionate about making our cities walking and bicycle friendly and we want to compete for government funding then we need to collect data. If we all collect more data we can all be part of creating a walking and cycling infrastructure revolution.
How do you think you can contribute to improving walking and cycling infrastructure in your city? Share your ideas in the comment section.
Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.