Invest in cycling as fuel prices rise, say cyclists.
The Cycling Advocates' Network (CAN) and Bike NZ say it has never been more urgent for government and business to invest in cycling.
As petrol crosses the $2.20 mark more people are looking for alternatives to driving.
CAN spokesperson Patrick Morgan says the New Zealand Cycle Trails is an excellent start, but local councils and central government need to shift up a gear to soften the impacts of high fuel prices.
"We urge councils to meet the demand for safe and convenient cycling by developing cycling plans and investing in cycleways, traffic reduction, bike parking, cyclist training and driver education through the 2012 updates to their Long-Term Council Community Plans."
Mr Morgan says business can play a part too.
"Some workplaces provide secure bike parking, fleet bikes, and changing facilities for staff. These are great ways to encourage people to bike, and to lower travel bills. Every person on a bike means one less car. More biking is good for business."
CAN and Bike NZ are working on programmes aimed at getting more people riding, more often:
- Cycle skills training to ensure everyone has the opportunity to undertake training that would include understanding the road rules and what responsible riding means
- A pilot "share the road" campaign for drivers and cyclists - to investigate effective methods of how to help vehicles and cyclists share the road space.
- Workshops for truck and bus drivers, where drivers and cyclists swap seats to learn about driving and cycling issues.
"We need continuous cycleways through our cities and wide shoulders on key rural roads," says Mr Morgan.
Cycling costs 7 cents a kilometre compared to about 60 cents for a car. Cycling provides exercise that helps keeps people fit, healthy and happy, so reducing costs to the health system. Cycling also decreases pollution and congestion, both of which cost New Zealand over a billion dollars each per year.
Mr Morgan says rising fuel prices are driving people out of their cars - and they are rediscovering the convenience and fun of cycling.
"New Zealanders love cycling. Bikes outsell cars, and there are 1.3 million people already riding for recreation, fitness and pleasure.
"Many would like to use their bikes to get to work, school or the shops, but are deterred by traffic or perceptions of safety."
"With high fuel prices here to stay we need to ensure cycling is a viable choice."
How many people cycle in New Zealand?
The Ministry of Transport Household Travel Survey (1, 2006) shows there are 1.274 million cyclists in New Zealand, or a third (31% percent) of New Zealanders. By comparison, there are about 3 million people with car licences.
About 750,000 or a fifth (18 percent) of New Zealanders are regular cyclists (cycling at least once a month) and 144,000 or 3.5 percent cycle nearly every day
About 38,000 or 1 percent ride to work (about 2.5 percent of commuters) according to the 2006 Census
In the past few years, cycling has boomed. Bicycle imports exceed new car imports (2).
About 4 in 10 people would be willing to cycle more often if conditions favoured cycling (3).
(1) MoT Household Travel Survey 2003 - 2006.
(2) New cycle and new car import data to 2006.
(3) Sullivan and O'Fallon (2006). Increasing cycling and walking: an analysis of readiness to change. LTNZ Research Report 294.