Australian lobby groups are calling for more government funding for cycling infrastructure, after the release of new figures showing the industry sold more bikes than the car industry did vehicles for the eighth consecutive year in 2007. The nation sold a record 1.47 million bicycles in 2007, compared to 1.04 million cars, while the government is believed to spend $7.5 billion on road related expenditure compared to the $100 million spent on cycling infrastructure.
"Soaring petrol prices, concern over climate change, crippling traffic congestion and the desire to lead healthier lifestyles all contributed to the record breaking year" said Elliot Fishman, policy advisor at the Cycling Promotion Fund. "Not only are Australians buying more bicycles, they are using them in increasing numbers. Cycling has become the fourth most popular physical activity with more than 1.6 million Australian adults cycling in 2006, an increase of 17 percent from 2001.
"Recently released Census figures show that many Australians have rediscovered the bicycle as a great way to commute, with cycling trips to work growing at an average 22 percent across Australian capital cities; with Melbourne soaring 42 percent between 2001 and 2006," added Fishman.
The Cycling Promotion Fund, together with other national cycling organisations and over 60 councils across the country, have called on the Federal Government to adopt its Healthy and Active Transport (HEAT) proposal on the back of the figures. The HEAT programme involves a Commonwealth contribution of $50 million per annum direct to local government for walking and cycling infrastructure projects.
"Australians want to become more active and are looking for practical ways to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions," Rosemarie Speidel, the programme director of the Cycling Promotion Fund said. "Cycling offers an accessible and popular way for people to not only look after their body but also the planet and it is terrific to see so many Australians taking up cycling".
"The challenge is now for all level of Governments to significantly increase funding to improve bicycle infrastructure to make it easier for Australians to make healthy and sustainable choices" concluded Fishman.