Safety argument against cycling doesn’t travel

Roads and Traffic Authority figures obtained by the Herald show that while the number of cyclists has jumped 50 per cent in the past three years, cyclist death and injury numbers have remained relatively stable over the past decade.

Published October 8, 2007 by The Sydney Morning Herald
By Sunanda Creagh

AU–LAZYBONES who shun cycling for safety reasons may soon have to find a new excuse.

Roads and Traffic Authority figures obtained by the Herald show that while the number of cyclists has jumped 50 per cent in the past three years, cyclist death and injury numbers have remained relatively stable over the past decade.

Seven cyclists were killed in 1997 and three were killed last year. In the intervening years, the number fluctuated but did not rise above eight. The number of cyclists injured in road accidents grew from 603 in 1997 to 672 last year, but as a proportion of the total number of cyclists, the death and injury rate declined.

The chief executive of Bicycle NSW, Alex Unwin, said the figures showed motorists were becoming more aware of the approximately 3000 cyclists who rode into the city every day. "There would be other factors like the increase in off-road cycling paths, education programs and people riding together," he said.

"Cycle count data shows that commuters into the city has gone up by about 50 per cent in the last three years. This is on the back of improved infrastructure like the Anzac Bridge pathway, but petrol prices, health and greenhouse gas also contribute."

Bikes now outsell cars every year and enrolments for National Ride to Work Day on October 17 are up 300 per cent.

A spokesman for the RTA said there was more than 3900 kilometres of cycleway in NSW but Mr Unwin said more could be done. "We still have significant gaps in the cycle path network; the biggest gap is the link to allow people from the north to go over to the west," he said. "Over 50 per cent of car trips in Sydney are under five kilometres. If you put in the facilities around the dense urban areas you get a better chance of substituting those car trips with bike trips."

The City of Sydney has plans to build a two-way cycle path along King Street on exhibition, and a path is also planned for Clarence Street. But the Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said more cycling infrastructure was needed, noting recent Government decisions to remove bike lanes from the M2 and William Street.