In recent years, there hasn’t been so many cycling bodies in one location, in one room, discussing the future of cycling in Australia. From across the country, those invested in the future of Australian cycling attended the We Ride Bicycle Summit 2018 at Barangaroo, Sydney. A few of the major parties who attended the conference are listed below:

  • Bicycle NSW
  • Bike SA
  • West Cycle
  • Pedal Power ACT
  • Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand
  • Amy Gillet Foundation
  • Cycling Australia
  • BMX Australia
  • Mountain Bike Australia
  • We Ride
  • City of Parramatta
  • City of Sydney
  • Transport for NSW

Bill Grant, Executive Officer, Integrated Planning at Transport for NSW

Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM

A day of discussion and talks from a range of speakers from across the world, was truly inspirational. Below we have outlined some interesting points that were raised throughout the day.


Encourage people to use active transport

There are 11 million car trips across Sydney each week that are less than 10km, the majority of these are on the weekend. We need to make it easier and encourage people to be walking or cycling these distances. Culture and attitude are key in improving cycling participation.


Connectedness of Active Transport

Active transport promotes social interaction, rather than sitting in our cars, having no interaction with the people around us.    

Cycling is a way to enrich our society between all people. In doing so we will be building stronger and more resilient communities.  The Greater Sydney Commission, promotes a respect for the places in which you interact with but also a care for the country and land around you.

“When did it become so acceptable for kids in our community not to have a bike?” - Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM


Looking At the Whole System

Low cycling numbers is a result of the whole system, such as:

  • Density
  • Parking
  • Location to shops, schools and sport
  • Public transport

When looking at constructing cities, you need to start from the ground up and start by prioritising active transport.  Start with thinking about pedestrians/cyclists first and motor vehicles last.


  • Convenient
  • Useful
  • Comfortable
  • Travel is a compromise
  • Localisation
  • Reconnecting to existing amenities (schools, shops and open spaces)

In order to make a community more user friendly, the default for 90% of city roads should be 30km/h.  

Associate Professor, Neil Coffee, Centre for Research and Action in Public Health, University of Canberra

The Netherlands – a Cycling Inspiration for Australia

Amsterdam’s airport, Schiphol has over 70 million passengers yearly and over 40% of these arrive to the airport via public transport.

Yet, there are over 16,000 employees at the airport and there needed to be a switch in getting these people to cycle instead.  They did this by creating cycle highways so workers could ride to work, instead of driving and adding to the congestion around the airport.


Seeking answers overseas

In 1997, the City of Vancouver made the decision not to increase the capacity for cars.  Twenty one years later, the City of Vancouver has a population of nearly 650,000 and is still strongly promoting and enabling active transport.  

Walking and cycling is a priority when making any changes or thinking about their City. To them, cycling is safe, convenient, comfortable and fun - it needs to be promoted further.  By listening more to communities, town planners can better develop the future for the community of which they serve.


In Vancouver, they also promote the separation of pedestrians and cyclists. Ultimately meaning pedestrians do have right of way at crossings and they are consistent about this to protect both parties.

Interestingly, all ages and abilities segregated paths are heavily promoted across the city.   For over a hundred years, society has been physically separating with footpaths. Why not with cycle paths? The City of Vancouver achieve this separation in 1 of 3 ways:

  • Local Street bikeways
  • Protected bike lanes
  • Off -street bikeways

Obviously, the City of Vancouver have started to inspire a culture shift towards active transport.  54% of residents would like to ride more often via bicycle. Their challenge now is to determine the factors stopping their residents from riding more.  


Creating a diverse cycling community

The all female panel discussed why cycling participation levels were much lower among women.


Having women on bikes is an indicator of the health of that system. Currently, only 26% of the total system in NSW are female. There needs to be a behavioural change, so that cycling isn’t seen as “just a boy thing” and we do this with role modeling. Seeing more women on bikes sends messaging that bike riding is safe and that anyone can do it.  We need to highlight that cycling is normal, you don’t need lycra to ride a bike, you don’t need to be instantly experienced and confident. Like any sport, you need to start somewhere.


Barriers to women riding are:

  • Safety (more risk averse)
  • Time
  • Appearance (end of trip facilities)


Bicycle NSW would like to extend a massive thank you to We Ride Australia for organising this summit.


A final summary and goal for the future of cycling is below:

We are committed to a nation where every child and every adult can safely enjoy riding for transport, recreation, and sport. Together  we will make Australia  healthier and more sustainable through a national commitment to cycling education, training, and quality infrastructure.

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