Tasmania 7315, Australia

Cycling is fun, healthy and sustainable so why aren't more people on bikes in the Cradle Coast?

We are in the grip of a sedentary lifestyle crisis in the North West. Cycling is an easy, low-impact activity that can significantly improve individual health and fitness and has the potential to have a major impact on public health. How can we get more people riding bikes?

Posted by Peter on the 03rd May 2016.

Cycling is cheap, fun, healthy and sustainable so why aren't more of us on our bikes?

In  response to Tasmania, and the Northwest in particular being the grip of a sedentary lifestyle crisis, the Cradle Coast Authority teamed up with Cradle Coast Innovation to run a forum that brought together 40 community leaders, changemakers and practitioners to work collegitately to identify innovative and inspiring ways to improving participation in all forms of cycling in the Northwest. The Forum was held as part of Idea 16 on 8 June 2016. 

The results of the forum are being collated and the key emerging themes ideas will be posted shortly in Made Open Tasmania to continue the conversation on line.

The content from forum 1 and the ongoing online conversation will be used to identify to inform a second forum where we will work out how to turn the best ideas into action. We are looking for short term low cost / no cost actions that we can get on with straight away. More complex game changer issues will be included in a regional cycling experience strategy. 

If you are interested in increasing participation in cycling activities across the region, get involved in the conversation now. Suggest, like and comment on ideas. Send a link to the challenge and invite fellow enthusiasts to get involved in the conversation today.


Challenge photo and background: Courtesy Tourism Tasmania and Rick Eaves

The One Month Two Wheels video was developed for the One Month in Tasmania Adventure Film Festival (2015).

woolfinioz - In the UK, cycling has taken off. I think the Olympics, cycling 'personaloties', growing popularity of 'extreme' or 'endurance' sports have all helped. Plus people work so hard; cycling like many sports is like releasing a pressure valve that's in the head. Key is to make cycling fashionable.

Peter - Thanks Robert, The north west of Tasmania has an astonishing cycling culture - competitive, health and recreation and tourism - Mountain Biking and touring events are also increasing in popularity. Given that, there are a high proportion that do not yet ride. We need to work out how to leverage its popularity among the converted to capture the attention of those who don't ride. We have planned a cycling forum for 8 June in Ulverstone where we will get key community / change leaders together to have a crack at this. Cheers.


Chelsea - I think that cycling is great but there aren't enough pathways in the region. Cycling on the road is scary and I don't want to be riding so close to cars. Making it safer and more accessible to the beginners and recreational riders would be great.

Mark - I agree more safe paths help encourage people new to cycling. So much could be done very simply to make riding a bike a more attractive option in urban spaces. Education on basic bike care/ maintenance great idea especially for buying a used bike ( cheaper option).

alangham - Absolutely agree Chelsea, many riders or people who would like to ride a concerned for their safety, it's not pleasant and very scary when riding along the highway and a truck or car comes past nearly blowing you off the bike. It's amazing that a place like Tassie, especially like the coast has produced so many great cyclist in various forms (track, MTB, road) yet we still can not get a culture of cycling going, or the infrastructure to support it. If we want liveable cities, happy healthy people then when need the resources, infrastructure and the support to achieve this. State, local govt need to start being brave and invest in this stuff.


Marcelo - The love for cycling needs to start a very young age, for us in the older generations was easy, as it was the only way of entertainment in the street, the way to get to your friend’s house and common ground to socialize.
Now our children are wrapped in cotton wool, driven to every location on a full schedule of activities, swimming, music lessons, surf club, etc. and have the endless choice of electronic entertainment/socializing.
Encouraging children to take their bikes to school will be a good start. Having a dedicated skills area near or in the school will be of great help. Twists and turns, tunnels and undulations, narrow and wide passes, all of that is fun and develop riding skill making them safer on the roads. A few schools in the north west have their own mountain bikes and use them on a daily basis for their PE class.

Peter - I agree Marcelo. Giving people positive experiences and opportunities at the youngest age possible is crucial - we need to engage with the most proactive schools and work with them to provide the prototypes that other schools will want to follow. We don't want to write off the current generation either, so we also need to be working on ways to get adults into cycling activities as well. There are plenty of enthusiasts on the Coast. Do you have any ideas how we can connect with adults currently not cycling?

JodieClark - The bike safety roadway in Sheffield is a great way to get very junior riders involved in cycling. I know I got back on my bike once my kids were all old enough to ride confidently. Cycling school buses is another way to combat the parental fears Peter.


Marcelo - Yes, Chelsea bikes are expensive but at the same level as camping and surfing, and not as much as motorcycles, 4WDriving, sailing. And for some people it could be an even exchange for alcohol and cigarettes cost and for greater benefit.

Certainly having children (or other family members) taking on cycling will bring a percentage of adults in to it as well, and the same as with children, it needs to be fun for adults too, having dedicated areas for riding, like forest paths and links in to parks within towns, but mainly is the spread of information with a good selling package. If you try to get people to ride for health proposes and because is good for them it will be hard, but delivering the idea with the brand of being young, adventurous, fun and popular it may go a bit further.
Having a bicycle is one part of it but having the space to use it is a bigger part. Most people don’t know their alternatives of the possible routes to get to places, so having some maps with the popular locations, loops, links to parks, coastal beaches, cafes, bike shops, iconic sites and if you add the distances and grading of climbing, etc. it can open and refresh the ideas of cycling in the older groups.
This can be an interactive regional map were you can zoom in you desire area, see you options and help you navigate your town with ease. (Everyone has a smart phone).
The Penguin Bike Park, is a good example for bringing new riders in to action. The loops are small, always close to the carpark, and is divided in different levels of skills, it has learning areas in a safe environment and it’s equidistant from Burnie and Devonport with the option to have a bigger adventure in the Dial range. It started only 3 years ago and now gets close to 200 users a week, nearly to 10.000 a year plus events.


Peter - Developing interactive regional maps were you can zoom in your area of interest, see options and help navigate with ease around the region. (Almost everyone has a smart phone). I stole this idea from Marcelo.

JohnDawson - This is a great idea, but could I suggest not reinventing the wheel. There are great Apps around like Trailforks which already have excellent coverage of Tasmanian mountain bike trails, and if you wish to encourage on-road routes and cycle pathways you are better to add cycle friendly routes to main stream map products like Google Maps and OpenStreetMaps (which is what applications like Strava uses). I've already added most of the legal mountain bike trails in Tasmania onto OpenStreetMaps.

Peter - Great comments - thanks John.


Peter - Trial Bike Education in schools - The Bicycle Network is exploring and supporting innovative ways improving bike education at school.

Garry - Spot on, Peter. Bicycle Network is being funded by the Tasmanian Government to roll out its program in primary schools. If we can develop good habits early around being more physically active, those habits hopefully will last a lifetime -- and a longer lifetime at that. Ulverstone can be one of the great proving grounds. Most students live close to the schools, the streets have low-volume traffic, it's flat, there are good bike paths and good footpaths as well (you can ride on footpaths in Tassie unless indicated otherwise. We now wait for State Budget day to see if the Government will continue to fund the program and keep our brilliant Ride2School coordinator Phil Joughin working his magic. he ultimate aim is to have Ride2School and other health and wellbeing programs such as Move Well, Eat Well in every school. There would be no better way for the Government to kick off its campaign to make Tassie the healthiest state in the nation by 2025.


DarylConnelly - Providing education around defensive cycling, may help. I remember being terrified at roundabouts, until I cottoned onto the idea of moving into the centre of the road well out from the roundabout, which makes sure that cars have to stay behind me, reducing the risk of them turning left into me or squeezing me off the road, and increasing my visibility to other cars.

Garry - Not just defensive riding, Daryl, but defensive driving. We should be teaching those skills early in schools. I urge anyone interested in road safety to make a submission to the Road Safety Advisory Council's discussion paper on its Towards Zero strategy.


DarylConnelly - Education around basic repairs and comfortable bike set-up, may also increase people's confidence.


DarylConnelly - Driver education is needed too. I had much more empathy for cyclists, the moment that I took up cycling as an adult. It's probably hard to fully replicate that experience without getting somebody on a bike, but I think a media campaign could make some inroads. I wonder just how many drivers for example, have no idea that many cyclists are actually clipped onto their bikes, and cannot simply put their foot down quickly and stop.


StaceyConnelly - Increase the distance of our current bike/walking tracks along the north west coast. For example link Burnie, Penguin, Ulverstone & Devonport together to encourage people to commute on bikes rather than the car. Also community engagement activities such as a Try a Bike Day? An event with experienced people available to run basic bike workshops, maintaince, safety, mountain biking, purchasing the right bike, health benefits of riding, helmets & bike assesories etc. participating in an event such as this may be enough to get someone hooked on cycling/bike activities or give them the confidence to get back out on their bike.

Peter - Thanks Stacey - love the try a bike day and a whole range of related workshops - sounds like fun. The 5 Councils coastal pathways from Wynyard to Latrobe are working collectively to implement a coastal pathway plan designed to connect the population centres along the way. About 30% of the pathway is complete, but it is a big task. There will be more information coming out about the pathway soon. Cheers


LeeAdamson - Dedicated cycleways like the German Fahrrad system - statewide - and regionalised loops


Peter - I like what I hear about the Ride2School program - how can we better engage with schools and parents to ensure that happens in every school in the region?


Jan - I think cycling could be a great way to encourage tourism into the Cradle Coast area (and other Tasmanian areas) from interstate/international visitors but it needs to be easy for them to organise. Bike hire places with good quality bikes, luggage transportation, maps, recommended accommodation, cafes, restaurants and places of interest clearly marked along the way. Combine cycling with a local gourmet food and wine trail (we have plenty of those in Tasmania!).
My husband and I have had a few cycling holidays, the Snowy river (http://www.snowyrivercycling.com.au/) and the Otago NZ Rail Trail (http://www.otagocentralrailtrail.co.nz/), very easy to organise in these areas and they bring in the tourists! We have everything they have (probably better) but we just need to put it together?

Jan - Oops, sorry just read the whole article, my response doesn't actually relate to local cycling...

woolfinioz - I think it's still relevant Jan. If you see people cycling, no matter who they are, it might inspire you to do the same.


Anne - It would be great to see bike stations set up along the coast similar to Melbourne Bike Share http://www.melbournebikeshare.com.au/
Not everyone is fortunate enough to own, or have capacity to maintain a broken bike, flat tyre (is this what deters people) once the bike is broken it sits in the shed gathering dust

Peter - Great suggestion Anne - Great site. I notice that the scheme is operated by the RAC and supported by the Vic Public Transport Authority and State Government - clearly they see the merits of cycling from a transport perspective....


Peter - What is the future of E-bikes in the region? The North West Coastal Pathway will provide the connections between our relatively dispersed coastal population centres.

Anyone have any idea how much it might cost / easy it might be to establish recharging points along the Coastal Pathway?

Chelsea - University of Tasmania in Hobart has e-bike charging stations - http://www.utas.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/373349/Bicycling-Achievement-Award-release-March-2013.pdf Maybe it might be worthwhile asking somebody from UTas and seeing as they have already introduced this in the south, whether the North and North-West campus' might benefit from this?


Chelsea - This passed my desk this morning ... "9 reasons why people don't ride a bike" (and the solutions)
1. Don't like wearing a helmet - pack a hairbrush
2. Maintenance and punctures - carry around a pump and spare tube & learn a new skill
3. Rain - carry a lightweight softshell
4. Don't know what to wear - you don't have to wear lycra, but something that won't get caught in your chain
5. Safety - use a bike path wherever possible, if no bike path, use the footpath
6. Shopping - bike baskets are cheap and practical
7. People will laugh at me - you'll look fit and fab at the end of the day - who is laughing now?!
8. Too far to ride - ride part of the way?
9. Bottom gets sore - make sure the bike is set up correctly and the weight is being taken on your bones, not your perineum!


JodieClark - parkrun (yes lowercase p) in Devonport has resulted in an average of 124 people out walking/running at 8am on Saturday mornings along the beautiful waterside track. I would suggest that it also gets many people out running/walking during the week days too, in preparation for their weekend 5km time trial. Could we create something similar with bikes in the Cradle Coast area? The positive attributes of parkrun are that it is free, welcoming, non-competitive and a strong social aspect. There are very few barriers. Obviously with bikes it's not as logistically easy, but the system is run by different volunteers each week, making a small time committment. Instead of a distance based time trail, the system could be the amount of check points you get through in the space of an hour, allowing beginners/children to start low, and experience/strong riders to get through a large number of checkpoints each week. The aim being to improve your results each week. Points are awarded each week, just for turning up and volunteering stints. The social aspect is encouraged by participants sharing a post exercise coffee and through post event photos on social media. The national parkrun page can be viewed here http://www.parkrun.com.au/


NickT - Build it and they will come. Considerable research shows us this and Marcelo has also alluded to this with reference to the MTB infrastructure. Therefore one of my first approaches would be to support our elected representatives in understanding the different needs of various forms of cycling, from recreational to commuter cycling. This might involve various clubs and individuals inviting our politicians to join them for an event or activity where they experience being on the bike. I offer my own riding example to emphasise the importance of this understanding. I cycle commute through approximately 12.5km of the Burnie municipality and since the introduction of small sections of leisure pathway I now receive considerably more abuse from passing motorists, 'get off the f#@*ing highway' is the most frequent remark. One of my local members asked why I don't use the leisure cycle/walk way and I needed to explain the additional time (comparable to taking a detour through main street Penguin if driving from Ulverstone to Burnie) and the conflict with those walking their dogs or small children on scooters and so on. We're not allowed to ride on footpaths for similar reasons. I have encouraged a few work colleagues and University students to try the cycle commuting and they have vowed never to do it again. I fear many more failures like this until I can encourage better understanding and infrastructure spending that would actually help people incorporate cycling as part of their daily lives.


fletchmo19 - It be cool to see more young adults commuting to work on a bike. Wonder whether north-west coast employers could be convinced of the merit of providing a financial incentive for those that ride (and walk) to work?
What's in it for them.....happier, healthier, more active employees.....having to provide less space for employee cars....
Got to get those bike-friendly 'laterals' from the coastal pathway into the centres of the CBDs in place to make it feasible for the not-so-confident commuter.

Chelsea - Great idea. I wonder if there is another incentive other than financial? Places doing it tough might not be able to offer monetary incentives but what kind of other things could they do for employees? Do you think that employers need to be taking the charge on the issue? Do employers need to be convinced of the benefits of having an active workforce? Or should employees be pursuing it?

Peter - To what extent are Councils factoring bike friendly infrastructure in and around their cbds and public transport hubs?

NickT - This certainly needs to be a big part of the overall strategy if we're going to support a culture of commuter cycling. Incentives don't need to be directly financial. As a commuter cyclist some of the greatest incentives include; an undercover facility (or bike locker) to park the bike at the workplace, a locker large enough to hold some clothing and simple equipment (sufficient size to hang work clothing is a good indicator) and a place to have a wash. Bicycle Network provide a detailed information resource to support employers who are considering creating a commuter friendly workplace. At the Rural Clinical School in Burnie we hold a monthly ride/walk to work breakfast for staff and students. The breakfast is put on for free for any who choose to ride or walk on the day and staff from the adjacent hospitals are welcome to join in. Students are also provided a small amount of financial assistance to put toward gym membership or the purchase of a bike (new or second hand). This encourages a few to get more active, though lack of adequate road/cycle infrastructure and ease of access to free parking generally discourage many from joining in. Personally I would have a difficult time convincing other workplaces to introduce such incentives if there isn't a firm commitment from all tiers of government to actually install cycle commuter friendly infrastructure. To offer some insight into how much cars are privileged by our local councils and state government then look at the planning approvals process in relation to the requirements for car parking. I cannot speak for every planning scheme, though I was surprised to find that many work places are not allowed to offset the number of mandatory car parks by providing cycle parking facilities instead. Changing this aspect of the planning scheme would be a good initial step.


Chelsea - Repost (accidentally posted in another thread)
KurtTuthill - We need to connect the major population centres with safe and scenic bicycle/pedestrian pathways from Wynyard through to Devonport. Ulverstone has excellent pathways from one side of town to the other - all towns need similar. This would create a great deal of cycling tourism.

BMX racing is now an Olympic sport, yet the only complete track in NW Tas is in Wynyard. The old Devonport track has had its starting hill demolished by the council and the Ulverstone track was bulldozed. These need to be reinstated to give kids a place off road to engage in healthy exercise.


NickT - Pop-up bike info/repair stations
Until such time as councils and businesses get on board by providing adequate facilities for repairs I wonder about the potential for a pop-up bike info/repair station that could be set up at key local venues. I can imagine a dedicated marquee that appears occasionally at the Ulverstone Farmers' Market where NW coasters are encouraged to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike) for ergonomic set up tips, simple repair advice and assistance, commuting tips and so on. This could be linked to a social ride on the day and advertised through a wide range of channels.

Peter - Love the pop up idea Nick. Placed at venues / events like the markets and including social rides on the day would be a very low cost way of engaging people and testing demand and interest.... Thanks.