More people biking. Why?
There is no doubt that bike use is experiencing a resurgence, as confirmed by data from Auckland and Christchurch cycle counters. The NZ Government and local authorities are spending on cycling infrastructure, and for good reason.
“More than a third of New Zealanders have indicated that they want to use cycling as their everyday transport choice – to commute to and from work and school, to visit friends, to go to the shops, to get some exercise, or to simply go for a ride around the block.”
- Cycling increases physical activity, making people healthier and more productive
- Communities where more people cycle and walk have better health profiles.
- Cycling just 32 km per week reduces the risk of heart disease to less than half, compared to people who don’t exercise.
- Cycling reduces the likelihood of serious illnesses including heart disease, type-two diabetes, all types of cancer, high blood pressure and obesity.
- We need to get more active. In New Zealand:
- Half of adults do not get enough exercise,
- Only 10% of secondary school students met the current recommendations of 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
- On average, New Zealand adults now spend four and three-quarter hours a week driving.
- Physical inactivity contributes to around 8 percent of all deaths,
- One in three adults and one in five children are overweight.
- Physical inactivity is the second leading risk factor for becoming disabled
- There is a link between decreased active transport (walking and cycling) and rising rates of obesity
- Active transport is four times more effective than sport at reducing obesity
Benefits of Cycling for the community
- Cycling makes towns and cities more liveable, improving access for everyone
- Cycling improves quality of life quality in towns and cities. ‘Quality of life’ rankings consistently show bike-friendly cities at the top.
- Cycling improves social connection in towns and cities. With less traffic people spend more time in their neighbourhoods and on city streets. Out of their cars, people can interact more. This reduces social isolation.
- With a bike you don’t need to have the money for a car and petrol, and you don’t need to be able to drive. This improves access to work, play, and key services.
- For kids, this means not always relying on Mum and Dad (or the bus) for a lift to sports, clubs and school.
- Reduced traffic congestion, noise and air pollution
- 43% of urban vehicle trips are less than 5 km, and 17% are less than 2 km.
- Shifting 5% of car trips to bicycle reduce emissions by up to 8%.
- Fewer cars on the road meaning less traffic and easier parking for those who need to drive.
Cycling is the third most popular recreational activity in NZ, with 24.8% of adults participating in it. It is something nearly everyone can do. When the infrastructure is built, even more people choose to cycle.
Local Economic Benefits
- Increased cycling potentially boosts retail spending. People who cycle have been found to be more likely to stop and visit shops more often, and to spend more overall, than people who drive.
- We overestimate the importance of car parking. A Wellington study showed that only 6% of shoppers on Tory Street were using the car parks along that street. Auckland’s K-Road retailers thought 41% of their customers would arrive by private vehicle, but only 17% did.
- Car Parking doesn’t drive business. In considering reallocating land used for car parking to using the same area for bike parking, An Australian study found that switching one car park to six bike parking spaces could create an increase in retail spend related to that space, from $27 per hour to $97.20 per hour. Many studies, including New York, Portland, Los Angeles, Dublin, UK, and New Zealand support the business case for reallocating space from cars to cycle lanes.
- Cycle tourism is big business. Good cycling infrastructure also attracts people to visit. Reports from Hastings indicate that visitors are being attracted to the area because of its cycling opportunities and many local businesses are reporting significant growth. More bike-friendly towns and cities would also encourage visitors from the New Zealand Cycle Trail, who spend money in local communities.
- Cycling saves people money to spend in their local communities. With no fuel, registration, warrant of fitness and parking costs, and much lower purchasing, maintenance and insurance costs compared to operating a car, people who cycle have more money to spend on other things.
National Economic Benefits
- Return on Investment: Auckland research shows for every $1 spent on cycle improvements, more than $20 is saved due to fewer road traffic injuries, reduced emissions, the health benefits of increased exercise, and savings on fuel.
- Reduced roading costs, the Queensland government found moving people out of cars and into active modes added up to a saving of about 5.2 cents per kilometre in roading costs.
- Cycling to work can also increase employee productivity, taking the benefits from the street into the workplace.
- Reduced costs of physical inactivity, injury, and pollution.
- Physical inactivity was estimated to cost $1.3 billion in 2010.
- The total social cost of motor vehicle injury crashes in 2014 was estimated at approximately $3.47 billion.
- Air pollution from motor vehicles contributes to the premature death of 500 people per year and another 809 are suffering serious illness.
- Cycling can help reduce congestion, Auckland and Wellington are the second and third most congested cities in Australasia, behind Sydney.
“In Auckland alone, it estimates the city’s congestion costs $1.25 billion a year in lost productivity.” Radio NZ Morning Report, June 2015
- Selling and repairing bikes is a growing business sector. The European Cyclists’ Federation (EFC) report – “Jobs and Job Creation In the European Cycling Sector” – is just the latest in a spate of reports claiming cycling has the potential to contribute billions of euros to the European economy.
- And Cycle Tourism is big business too: In 2015 the Otago Central Rail Trail contributed an estimated $5.2 million and 100 jobs to the local economy.
Much of this information is sourced from: NZTA’s publication, which contains further references to original sources: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/walking-cycling-and-public-transport/cycling/benefits-of-investing-in-cycling/