Auckland Transport sent me some interesting research that has been conducted for them recently looking into walking and cycling and what can be done to get more people using active modes. The research includes an online quantitative survey conducted by over 1,600 people said to be representative of the Auckland population as well as use of the census data – which as we know is limited to only those who are travelling to work. For the purpose of this post I’m just going to focus on the cycling data.
The research suggests that around 27% of people cycle although only 11% do so at least once a week or more. Most commonly people ride for exercise or recreation although as you can see those who cycle frequently cycling to get to shops is more prominent than the other categories. To me this highlights we still have a long way to go before cycling becomes more normalised, but more on that later.
Positively the numbers cycling have increased although for some of the occasions the numbers have fallen quite a bit. An example is with cycling to the shops which has fallen from 30% to 21% however it’s not clear if this is an actual decrease in total numbers or just as a percentage from the larger number cycling.
Those that do cycle are much more likely to be male and middle aged.
The map below shows the Journey to work data from the census. Given those that cycle to work are only a small portion of all cyclists it’s not fully representative of where people cycle but does very strongly show that cycling tends to happen in the areas where cycle infrastructure exists – such as around the NW cycleway. For this it uses AT’s description of cycle infrastructure as also including things like bus lanes. The outlier is a result of the Whenuapai Air Force base
So what gets people to cycle? Fun and convenience seem to feature highly, as does the presence of cycling networks.
The things that hold people back from cycling should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the blog, it’s all about safety.
What people think about cycling appears to be influenced quite a bit by if or how often they cycle themselves, for example the more you ride a bike the more you like others who ride a bike
Based on the Census data, the research shows that demographics strongly influence the propensity to cycle.
Based on the data it is suggested that the areas for the greatest potential growth in cycling are shown on the map below – although a lot of that will depend on the infrastructure that is put in place. One concern I have with this particular part of the research is that it seems to extrapolate current conditions as to who will cycle and as mentioned above, the census data only counts a small amount of all people cycling.
While middle aged men are the most likely to cycle now, the report also highlights a concern that the stereotype of them being lycra-clad warriors could be preventing people from cycling. As the report notes it is “Cycle infrastructure is clearly a big part of what ‘normalises’ sage, and a clear indicator to users that safety is being addressed”
Looking at the potential for growth in cycling the report says of the people who don’t cycle, around 26% could do so.
It gets more interesting looking at the demographics of those who could cycle regularly. As you can see young people make up around half of the potential opportunity for more cycling.
Of this potential group, like above it all comes down to safety the majority agree that there isn’t enough safe infrastructure in Auckland.
Again there’s no surprise here but the biggest factor that would encourage more use is more cycling facilities.
Lastly the report highlights that if the barriers to cycling were closed that millions more trips per year would take place on a bike.
So get cracking on those protected cycleways AT – even if only temporary for now the most important thing is getting a usable system in place