Cycling participation in Western Australia

Also see cycling participation in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

Roy Morgan research published in May 2015 states: "Twenty-three percent of Western Australians aged 14+ ride their bike either regularly or occasionally, the highest cycling participation rate in the country."

WA’s population aged 14+ was 1,880,487 in 2015, of which 23% is 432,512 who cycled.

This can be compared to WA cycling estimates within Bicycle Use and Attitudes to the Helmet Wearing Law published in 1994 by Heathcote and Maisey (WA helmet law enforced July 1992):

These WA survey estimates suggest 720,000 cyclists aged 5+ in 1993 and 432,512 cyclists aged 14+ in 2015, a reduction of 287,488.

There were 261,413 West Australians aged 5 to 13 in 2015 and if all of them cycled it wouldn't make up the shortfall of 287,488.

The Heathcote and Maisey estimate of 51% of West Australians aged 4+ who cycled in the year to November 1993 compares with National Cycling Participation data for 2015 showing 43.3% of West Australians of all ages cycled in the previous year. WA’s population aged over four years increased 38.1% from 1,551,203 in 1993 to 2,141,900 in 2015.

Road surveys are considered a gauge of community cycling participation. Mandatory bicycle helmet laws were enforced in WA for all ages from 1 July 1992.

perth bike riding

The Figure 14 chart above is extracted from Report on Compulsory Helmet Wearing for Bicyclists and Other Bicycling Issues published 1994 by the WA Parliament's Legislative Council Select Committee on Road Safety. The table below is based on Main Roads WA surveys that show little growth in cycling compared to population growth in the 14 years after helmet law enforcement.

Below is extracted from Bicycle Use and Attitudes to the Helmet Wearing Law authored by Bruce Heathcote and Gavin Massey and published 1994 by the Traffic Board of Western Australia.

wa bike riding

The data above suggest that when surveyed in November 1993, 30.2% of males and 23% of females in Perth reported they cycled less often over the previous two years, with 18.2% of males and 20% of females in country areas reporting that they cycled less often.

wa bike riding

The data above suggest that when surveyed in November 1993, an average 22.7% of respondents in Perth reported that they cycled less often in the previous two years because of the bicycle helmet law.

wa bike riding

The data above suggest that when surveyed in November 1993, an average 19.6% of respondents in country areas reported that they cycled less often in the previous two years because of the bicycle helmet law.

wa bike riding

The data above suggest that when surveyed in November 1993, an average 28% of respondents in Perth reported that they would cycle more often if not required to wear a helmet, with an average 25% of respondents in country areas reporting that they would cycle more often if not required to wear a helmet.

wa bike riding

The data above suggest that when surveyed in November 1993, 53.8% of 18yo and 19yo respondents reported that they would cycle more often if not required to wear a helmet, with an average 22.6% of respondents aged 20yo+ reporting that they would cycle more often if not required to wear a helmet.

wa bike riding

The data above confirms the Narrows and Causeway bridge survey results at the top of this page.

wa bike riding

The data above suggests that cycling participation in Perth and WA had been rising strongly during the 1980s, contrary to claims made by pro-helmet law academics.

wa bike riding

The 1996 media release above from government cycling agency Bikewest indicates the number of children cycling to school in WA more than halved in the five years after bicycle helmet law enforcement.

Below is extracted from a paper presented to the Planning and Transport Research Forum 2010 by Curtin University adjunct associate professor and CATALYST principal Ian Ker.

wa bike riding

wa bike riding

wa bike riding

The independently researched data above confirms other analysis on this page showing strong WA cycling growth before 1992 helmet law enforcement with substantial per capita declines thereafter persisting well into the new millenium.

Below is based on data from Road Safety report RR131 published 2003 and commissioned by the WA Road Safety Council.

wa bike riding

In view of the ~30% reduction in WA cycling reported on this page, why did hospitalised cyclist head and total injuries increase after helmet law enforcement in 1992?

wa bike riding

The data above show cyclist body area injuries from pre-law 1988 to post-law 1998, with upper extremities contributing most to the overall increase in injuries.

Below is extracted from Day to Day Travel in Australia 1985-86 published 1988 by the Federal Office of Road Safety.

wa bike riding

Across WA, the data above suggest that when surveyed over the full 12 months of 1985/86 including winter, there were 182,900 bike trips per day by WA cyclists aged 9+.

Below is extracted from 2011 Australian Cycling Participation published by Austroads and the Australian Bicycle Council.

nsw bike riding

Across WA, the data above suggest that when surveyed in the warm months of March and April, 339,465 people in WA aged 10+ cycled per week in 2011, which equates (multiplied by an average 5.3 trips per week in WA divided by seven days) to an average 257,024 trips per day.

Compared to the 182,900 in 1985/86, this represents an increase of 40.5% from 1985/86 to 2011, with the population of WA increasing 63.2% from 1986 to 2011 (1,406,929 to 2,296,411).

It should be noted that 1985/86 was seven years before helmet law enforcement in WA.

The tables below show state percentages of cycling weekly, monthly and yearly based on 2011 Australian Cycling Participation, 2013 Australian Cycling Participation and 2015 Australian Cycling Participation published by Austroads and the Australian Bicycle Council.

australian weekly cycling participation 2015

australian weekly cycling participation 2015

australian weekly cycling participation 2015

The data above show there was a decrease in WA daily cycling participation from 2011 to 2015 - down from 23.1% to 23.0%, but monthly cycling increased from 31.0% to 31.8% and yearly cycling declined from 45.1% to 43.3%.

Aged 9+, the data above suggest daily bike trips declined 1.1% from 1985/86 to 2015 (182,900 > 180,801), despite WA population growth of 81.1% from 1986 to 2014.

All road and telephone survey data above suggest a decline in WA cycling participation which is ongoing till 2015 on a per capita basis.

Also see cycling participation in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

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