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Cycling growing in popularity

An estimated 140,000 Australians are reported to have swapped their cars for bikes on for the country’s annual Ride to Work Day this week – despite rain in Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart. Last year 110,000 Australians participated.

It means that cycling in Australia is getting more popular as the country tries to get more people out on their bikes.

Lycra-clad enthusiasts mixed with sharply-dressed office workers on the roads, and cycling commuters were rewarded with a free breakfast in some cities around Australia before work, while many companies hosted their own gatherings.

Cycling to work has increased in popularity in Australia in recent years but the nation still lags behind many other countries. In central Melbourne, 9 per cent of trips into the city centre are made by bike compared to the 37 per cent of people who travel into central Copenhagen by bike.

But year on year cycling is growing and bikes as a general trend are increasing in popularity, and organisers of the Ride to Work Day want the estimated 30,000 new riders to keep the habit going.

A survey by Bicycle Victoria following last year’s event found 28 per cent of first time riders continued to commute by bike five months later.

The Brisbane Times reported of a cycling revolution in the city, as it drew almost 10,000 people for a 100 kilometre fundraising ride from Brisbane to the Gold Coast, making the event Queensland's largest-ever bike ride.

Organisers said 9539 cyclists signed up to the Wilson HTM Brisbane to the Gold Coast Cycle Challenge to ride from South Bank to Southport, an increase on the 7800 entrants last year. The Wilson HTM event has been running for six years and started with just 500 cyclists.

Brisbane was also the first Australian city to have a specific cycle parking station in the centre of the city, and the State Government is about to open another one at the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

Statistics also show that 19 per cent of bike sales in Brisbane are for people to get to work, and Brisbane City Council has promised to install 1500 hire bikes around inner-city Brisbane by September 2010.