Wary cyclists stay off roads

MICHAEL FORBES AND HANK SCHOUTEN
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2012
Cycle
Fairfax NZ
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Wellington may be the city with the cycling mayor, but most of us are too scared to go pedalling like Celia Wade-Brown.

A report on the region's cycling habits presented to Greater Wellington regional council shows cycle trips make up just 1 per cent of all travel in the region. And this represents only 0.4 per cent of the total distance travelled.

This is despite cycle ownership having increased steadily in the region over the last few years. Just under half of all households now have access to a bike.

Residents identified safety, difficult terrain, bad weather and convenience as their main barriers to cycling.

Just under half believed cycling was unsafe and the level of service and ease is poor.

Cycling Advocates Network spokesman Patrick Morgan said Wellington should follow Auckland's lead by putting in convenient and attractive cycle routes. "What we're hearing is that people want to ride their bikes but they are nervous about the roading environment.

"Recreational biking is booming, but if we are to see the benefits of that in transport cycling we need to lift our game.

"We need to do a whole lot more to make our streets attractive and comfortable places to ride a bike."

The report said cycling was riskier than other modes of travel. Cyclists were involved in 12 per cent of all injury crashes on the region's roads and 14 per cent of fatal and serious injury crashes.

There were 32 serious injury cycle crashes in the past year, double those of the previous year.

Each weekday an average of 1733 people entered the central business district on a bike, a 70 per cent rise on the number recorded in 2001.

At a Greater Wellington meeting last week, the council's manager of sustainable transport, Melanie Thornton, said she did not know why this rising trend had not been found elsewhere in the region.

Over the last 30 years, very little cycle skills training had been available but the council had received a $211,000 Road Safety Trust grant to provide training over the next three years.

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