Despite recent threats from the newly-elected New South Wales State Government, cycling is booming in Sydney, Australia's largest city.
Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore MP has announced today that there has been a 60 per cent increase on the city's new cycleways during the morning. New data also showed a 48 per cent increase during the afternoon over the past 12 months.
"The figures confirm that most riders use our cycleways to commute to and from work, so during peak hours in the morning and evening they are used heavily. Congestion on our roads is heaviest across the state during peak hours so the more people who ride during those times, the bigger the impact on reducing traffic and congestion," she said.
"Critics who complain about the cycleway network need to realise that we need to build it in stages, and that the stages then need to be linked. It's a bit like building a bridge and getting halfway through and then wondering why no one is using it yet. This is about the future and building a viable network that will become a normal part of city life in the years ahead."
New Roads Minister, Duncan Gay raised eyebrows in the Sydney cycling community last month following his appointment when he said cyclists either need to use the cycleways, or lose them.
"We need to find out why these lanes are not being used and whether it's a problem with the cycleways or something else," he said. "I am not against cycleways, but I have a problem with public money being spent on infrastructure which is going largely unused."
Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman Harold Scruby last week launched criticism over the cycleways saying: "They are the greatest travesty of pedestrian rights since Roman times, not since then have we invited vehicles to share the road with pedestrians.
"There is no insurance, no speed limits and no enforcement, all to give a very small group in the community a right over the majority,'' he said.
The City of Sydney is spending $76 million on a 200-kilometre network of bike lanes. 55 kilometres of those are separated with 10 kilometres built so far. No lanes for motorised transport have been lost in their construction. Riding on the footpath is illegal in NSW for people over the age of 12.
Just last year, Sydney was labelled as a city which 'hates bikes' following a study conducted by Dr. John Pucher from Rutgers University in New Jersey.
"In Texas or in the south-east of the US it's aggressive but there was an incredible level of aggression from Sydney motorists," he explained. It's not every motorist but there were enough of them, whether it was resentment, irritability or just aggression, I don't know."