How to increase cycle commuting

This is a good question, and the article has some ideas about increasing the use of bicycles for getting around cities:

Properly designed and implemented cycling infrastructure that’s aligned with but physically separated from roads is absolutely essential in major cities if governments are serious about trying to get people out of cars and onto bicycles.

Many of us just aren’t going to get on our bikes if we have to risk our lives mixing with cars, vans, truck, motorcycles etc going much faster … and often with impatient / inattentive drivers who’ll outright bully the cyclists or simply not notice them until it’s too late.

But there’s another aspect not addressed in the above article. Most of those cycling to work would also like - need! - to have a wash and change into dry clothes when they get there, because they could be pretty sweaty by then (unless the commute is very short and entirely flat). Many workplaces don’t have suitable facilities for that - or enough facilities to cope if a lot of workers start cycling in.

So I think that along with the road infrastructure, we need workplaces to have enough shower facilities to deal with the demand. And/or plenty of clean, well-maintained public ones close to every workplace?

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There’s another important aspect that wasn’t mentioned: once you get wherever you’re going, whether it’s a workplace or the local shops, you need a place to leave the bike that’s secure and out of the way. Neither of our local shopping centres has such a thing, and I suspect a lot of workplaces don’t, either.

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There’s also the issue of living close enough to work to be able to cycle. I’m not built for cycling at all, now, but even when I was, up hill and down dale was something I wasn’t good at. Thanks god I’m retired!!

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All too true! I wouldn’t have liked to cycle daily from one side of Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra, or Perth (the capital cities I’m familiar with) to the other when I was young and fit, even on separate and well-maintained cycle paths. When I lived and worked in Sydney for a while decades ago, I was lucky enough to be able to live within ~6km of my workplace, so could and did commute on foot, up and down some serious hills.

An e-bike would smooth out rough terrain, while still giving the rider some exercise, but it can’t reduce the distance if you’re too many kilometres from work. Many commuters in Sydney and the other big capitals are spending hours every day commuting to and from work by car.

Such far-flung folk can’t reasonably be expected to cycle to and from work.

But perhaps the work can be brought (nearer) to them?

The pandemic showed that working from home is possible for many office-type jobs.

Could generic well-network-connected office blocks be set up in each city area, within reasonable commuting distance of any part of that area, and larger businesses have small offices for staff who live in that area, instead of forcing all their staff to commute to one hard-to-get-to location in the CBD?

Obviously there are some jobs for which that can’t work! But there are plenty of others where the staff don’t really have to be all in one place, and having had to let them work from home during the pandemic demonstrated that.

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One part of the puzzle that needs to be addressed is the attitude of motorists in this country.

I now work from home, but before my current job, I used to cycle to work in Melbourne. On my rides to work, I was regularly abused by motorists, with one ‘nice’ gentleman going so far as to try and drive over me. I have no idea why they are so hostile to cyclists, but it didn’t make cycling a fun experience.

BTW, acting on the advice of The Bicycle Network, I reported the man who tried to drive over me to the police: who weren’t interested in doing anything about it, despite me providing witnesses who were prepared to testify. So that’s another problem.

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I used to cycle to work occasionally* when I worked at Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran, it is 250km from home! Work was generally 12-15 hour days (all night plus a bit of day) for 7-10 days at a time, once or twice a month, but accommodation was on the mountain when working, I then cycled home after my observing run. I towed a trailer behind my bike with clothes, laptop and other stuff I needed, which usually weighed 25-30kg in total.

  • I usually drove my car.
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Anywhere within a 10km radius of the workplace is a very reasonable and doable commute for most people - especially now with e-bikes which could push that limit out to say 15km. Of course, there are some for whom 20km each way would be easily achieved (like my 63yo sister for example!) on a regular commuter bike not just a road bike. I used to commute to work for a number of years and frankly used to beat the bus on regular occasions.

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I hear you. I used to ride to work in Sydney very early in the morning when it was mostly taxi drivers and delivery vans on the road but even then every second vehicle was trying to kill me! The return trip in the late afternoon was a special challenge even on the designated bike paths where vehicle drivers would park across them, pull out of car parks crossing the green cyclepaths without looking and assorted other dangers. The attitude of drivers needs to change if more people are to be encouraged to ride especially for short trips. I agree also with the complaint about police, they are totally disinterested in complaints against drivers not obeying the road rules even when a cyclist is injured and/or has video evidence. On the other hand in Sydney the police regularly conduct blitzes on cyclists looking for missing bells!

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One of the main problems in Australia is its cities are spread out…density is low. This means distance to travel usual routes (home to work…to friends…to shop…to eat out…) are significant making cycling as the preferred mode of transport less likely. Riding at night is high risk as lighting and cyclist visibility is poor.

Add in hot summers (who wants to arrive stinky’), fighting non-bike modes for the same movement space and general favouritism to motorised forms of transport makes cycling a second thought by most.

We have lived in China where the only personal/private form of available transport was the bicycle. This worked well with public forms (taxi, pedicabs, buses) which gave backup in unfavorable weather/longer distances/when riding wasn’t a good option. But, the city was very different - compact, flat, everything an easy ride away, a lot of fellow riders often dominating roads, night lighting okay etc. I wouldn’t give up motorised forms of private transport in Australia for the opposite reasons why it was practical in China.

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You might not realise, but “not being close enough” to ride a bike or walk is a relatively new problem, mostly in USA and Australia. Our cities have developed mainly in the 20th century, which coincides with the advent of cars. Our cities are designed around the road network (to make it possible to get everywhere sitting down), rather than the other way around. This has resulted in massive suburban sprawl, resulting in the worlds largest cities with the lowest population densities.

All cities, in all continents around the world, that had grown before this were human-sized.

I grew up in Australia, so I thought it was normal that anyone who leaves the house gets straight into a car each. I didn’t know any better until I lived in Barcelona for 5 years, and it took me 6 months to work out why I had all this extra time, money (despite earning less than 10% of what I’d been making in the Australian mining industry), and a sense of freedom I’d never felt before. I worked out that it was because I was not encumbered with babysitting a car.

Having people around also affects low-level crime, because people are less likely to be naughty if they think anyone’s watching, which you can’t do as you whizz by with your windows up, staring straight ahead, in your car.

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How many “cyclists” are using their bicycle as a means of commuting, and how many choose to use the roads as their own personal fitness space. Face facts. Cyclists are an annoyance on busy roads, and they know it. They live by the creed that because they are riding a bicycle they are a better class of citizen and other road users must make space for them. Our congested roads are NOT and never will be a safe space for cyclists, no matter how moral they may feel not burning oil to get to work. Oddly, I rarely see cyclists taking kids to school, or doing their weekly shop or visiting friends for a BBQ. Most seem to use their bikes during peak hours when their nuisance value increases.

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Why is this important, is one reason for them to be on the road acceptable and the other not?

Some cyclist find motorists annoying, so would it be more accurate to say we should face opinions?

A good reason to have more bike paths then.

That may be it - or the reason they are out then is that they are commuting like the car drivers.

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I think we’ve lost something. As our cites have evolved our culture has changed.

Elsewhere the bicycle is alive and well respected.

I rode a Malvern Star to and from school. Bicycle racks had their own large area in the school grounds. Primary school through to high school.
Was there angst between car drivers and cyclists? No - because having a car was not the norm for everyone. Nearly all had at one time been a cyclist, and had friends who still needed one. The postie had one. The Telegram boy had one. The railway call boy had one. Even the local copper had one.

Most motorists where I grew up reserved their angst for the trams, only to transfer that to the buses which replaced them. Speed cameras and mobile phone cameras might similarly cause grievance.

It’s a concern. Mine would be having to breath in the exhaust gases and waste particles from every ICE that races past.

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I and my siblings biked to and from primary school and high school in country Queensland, and yes, there were always plenty of bike racks provided.

That thought bothers me, too!

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I walked or rode my bicycle to school as well. It was only a few kilometres, but people don’t walk or bike a few kilometres and more - they drive their car. Alone.

Culturally, another change is that “Aussie” drivers have bought larger and larger vehicles, to the point that SUVs and dual-cab utes are the standard now. Despite the current situation, this indicates that we are too wealthy for our own good. This is also a reason why the only people that have higher GHG emissions than us are the residents of the all-star oil-exporting countries, such as UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, etc.

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That last little bit (from the boom gate) would be a real doozy!!! Even my motorcycle gags at it :slight_smile:

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