Why aren’t more of us on bikes?


Why is that the many South Australians who want to ride their bicycle more, aren’t and will recent investment pledges in infrastructure change this? 

Back in 2014, when Mikael Colville-Andersen visited Adelaide for the Velo-City conference, he told the ABC that Australia was behind the times on urban planning.


So, can the Adelaide City Council and State Government’s recently announced investment of $12 million in cycling infrastructure change all this?

Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan thinks so:

“Hopefully, we’ll boost cycling participation throughout the city. We’re [already] seeing more and more people riding their bikes, particularly … [to] work”, he told In Daily.

Our own CEO, Christian Haag, welcomed the announcement: “This significant joint investment will greatly enhance Adelaide’s liveability for decades to come”, he said.

Being avid cyclists ourselves, we’d like to hear from those who don’t ride as frequently as they might like, whether for recreation or commuting to school, work, friends – to find out why not.

What stops us from using a bike instead of a car?

Will investment of this nature make it more attractive for anyone to get to work or school on their bike, or will it only encourage those who live near to or in the city? Will it change our transport behaviours?

The health, environmental and economic benefits of commuter cycling are pretty well understood – so what’s stopping us from a widespread shift away from the car and into other transport options? Research consistently points to a broad desire for alternate, more convenient and cost effective transport choices.

In “City Cycling” (2012), Paul Tranter notes that “a significant (and usually ignored) time cost is the time spent at work to earn the money to pay for all the expenses associated with the mode of transportation.”

Why do we work to pay for the way we get around? What is it about driving a car that is so entrenched in the Australian psyche?

Appropriate cycling infrastructure investment is a proven solution, and we commend the State Government and Adelaide City Council infrastructure funds going into improving the city’s cycle routes. Of course, this will take a few years to come to fruition.

We really want to hear about your story – in 25 words or less, is there something that prevents you from riding your bicycle as much as you’d like? Let us know in the Comments Section below.

In the meantime – Bike SA is working to make cycling a more accessible, easier and safer commuting option for South Australians, to help workplaces be supportive of active commuting, and to encourage all road users to be mindful of one another’s presence.

A big part of that work is our partnership with the Motor Accident Commission’s ‘Be Safe Be Seen’ Education Program. It’s free, and your organisation could have us along to chat. You can find out more here.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. In a couple of weeks we’ll pull together a snapshot of the key barriers!

18 Comments. Leave new

I used to commute almost daily from Hawthorndene to Urrbrae and back again. I quite enjoyed the physical challenge of getting back up the hill via Pony Ridge or in more recent years the Lynton bike path. However with two little people to look after these days, the safety concerns as well as the steep grades makes it near impossible. Hopefully a less steep commuter path up Randalls, some better linked bike routes both in the hills and on the plains, and perhaps an electric motor will make it easier for people like me.


It’s fantastic that there’s this commitment to infrastructure in the CBD, but the problem is before you even get there. For me there are no safe routes to get to the city, let alone when you finally get in there. My commute consists of either Grand Junction Road or Port River Expressway… Both absolute stinkers for cycling (Option C is a +20km detour). Rode to work once along this route, never again. And I’m itching to cycle-commute, stuff traffic!

Florin Dumitru
August 5, 2016 6:04 am

In my opinion an effective way of getting people to ride instead of drive to and from work is by providing tax incentives like some European countries; something like 20-30c/km would see a lot of takers…


Until the work for the Torrens to Torrens upgrade of South Road I used to commute to the city along the Outer Harbor Greenway. Even though they never put in the promised bicycle crossing at South road it was just possible to get across. Now whilst the works are under way there is absolutely no provision for cyclists to cross South Road and the Greenway is now severed, yet another piece of cycling infrastructure that goes nowhere.


I cross at port road, there is a cycle lane. On the way in, most of the time the cars are stationary or moving slowly.

Trevor Butler
August 5, 2016 7:15 am

Trucks, semi trailers, b-doubles and caravans, the latter being by far the worst threat to a cyclists long gevity, should be enough, but the main reason I don’t ride every day is the sharp aggregate used on regional roads along with the broken glass and wire from blown truck tyres, it’s the constant punctures that seem to occur on the ride to work………rarely on the home trip???


The lack of secure covered bike parking in the city and at all main train and tram stops restricts how I use my bike into work and at the weekend.


I’d ride to work except for the logistics of looking presentable when I got there, the weight of what I have to take to/from work each day and unpredictable weather. Riding in the rain can be anywhere from unpleasant to hazardous.

Jacobus van Hoof
August 5, 2016 10:51 am

Barriers between cyclists and vehicles. Plus cycling is not viable timewise unless ask main roads that are most direct have separate cycling lanes. Also give cyclists a10 sec priority over cars at all traffic lights. Safer and gives people sitting in their cars more incentive to ride. All these take time but slowly a citys mentality changes toward cycling over other forms of transport. I dream to live somewhere like that.


Riding home from work isn’t an issue (40km via Southern Expressway track), however getting ‘to’ work is only an issue as far as not having shower facilities at work, and not possible to install one indoors. So I’m getting a plumber to set up an external shower at the side of the building and I will fabricate a simple fence/screen – once done, should solve the problem.


The roadworks on South rd Darlington. Endless debris in the cycling lane is so unsafe. Mud, rocks/stones, metal, foliage. At times have to merge out of the debris that is in the bikelane and into 70km traffic that don’t follow the 1.5 metre rule – especially buses and trucks. Why can’t the contactors, council and state government keep the bikelanes on both side of South Rd clean and safe. No other options to get safely into FMC.


I used to love cycling into the Central Markets and Tafe from Unley. I would take as many back roads as I could and felt blessed to live in a city that allowed a middle aged relatively unfit woman to get her exercise by cycling 6 ks per day. Don’t laugh! My intention was always to work my way up and upgrade my bike and become lean and brave. ….but I am now intimidated, not by the traffic but other cyclists some of whom have no tolerance for someone travelling 20 kilometers per hour., and whisk past so close that you can swat them like a mosquito. I was pleased when the footpath rule was introduced, but it really should be only for children and novice riders like myself. Unfortunately my bike sits unused and eventually will be given away.


I ride a pleasant 20km to work each day (although somewhat detoured due to T2T the cycle instead planner helped in getting an alternative route. )

The enablers are definitely:
-low stress cycling routes identified by ‘cycle instead journey planner’
-flexible working hours that enable travel in the most suitable part of the day
-having my partner do the kids drop off/ pick ups (thankyou honey!)
-end of trip shower facilities. In the Aussie climate a shower is definitely necessary most months of the yr.
-somewhere to stockpile some clean ironed clothes
-reliable bike parking facilities.
-loan car pool available at work, 9-5 for duties that require transport of bulky equipment.

Would be great to see more workplaces to provide the flexibility and facilities that support a cycling culture.


I ride often from the Eastern suburbs into the city to work, had to fight to get parking with the cars under roof. The bike lanes are atrocious. Too narrow and end at traffic junctions where they are most needed, for drivers and riders. Magill Road – Portrush intersection is a death trap, I often avoid it by riding longer ways. Main roads often don’t cater for riders at all (St Bernhards Rd). Rather than spending money on small side roads this government needs to allow riders to be equal participants of traffic.

Bicycle SA Blog – So, why aren’t we getting bikes? A conclusion
August 19, 2016 2:05 am

[…] Not along ago, we asked our subscribers why aren’t more people riding?  […]


There are! Just not everyone suffers from Biike obsessions. Seen a few even ride in stormy eaether. How nutty is that!?

Lynda Tout-Smith
December 8, 2016 12:40 am

North Terrace is difficult and dangerous for cyclists commuting to the station and the bike path has now been blocked off from the station, with alternative routes non-rideable. Cyclists are always left out of the equation with roadworks and building works. We also need more safe off-road paths, such as along the edges of the parklands to and from the city.

Lynda Tout-Smith
December 8, 2016 12:40 am

North Terrace is difficult and dangerous for cyclists commuting to the station and the bike path has now been blocked off from the station, with alternative routes non-rideable. Cyclists are always left out of the equation with roadworks and building works. We also need more safe off-road paths, such as along the edges of the parklands to and from the city.


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