Effortless cycling: how do we make riding a bike normal?

Riding to work doesn’t have to involve lycra. Beyond Neon

CYCLING IN AUSTRALIA: I’m living in the middle suburbs of Shanghai – a great cycling metropolis. Bike-riding rates are 30 to 40 times higher than Australian cities.

Hardly anyone wears lycra or rides a mountain or racing bike here. Cycling is all about “effortless” propulsion at low speeds on cheap, upright city bicycles in everyday clothes. People ride at half the speed of my mates in Australia, never breaking a sweat.

Everyone rides here: grandmothers, professors, street sweepers, office workers, my guitar teacher, children. It is these “missing” bicycle riders we don’t see in Australia. Those going to the shop, the train station or the pub on a bicycle, instead of walking or driving a short distance.

So how do we target these groups?

We are certainly going in some good directions with bicycle policies and programs in many of Australia’s major cities, turning back 60 years of disinvestment in cycling. But how do we take the next step?

Here are some suggestions, based on comparative experiences and tied to practical policy changes.

John Pucher and Ralph Buehler’s analysis of cycling across countries demonstrates that by putting dollars into cycling infrastructure, supporting it with sensible policies, restraining cars from their worst excesses, and encouraging cycling in practical ways, cities make riding “irresistible”.

Sensible transport policies can make cycling irresistible jessielein