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Government surveys show Victoria cycling participation down since helmet law

Mandatory cycle helmet law was introduced in 1990

Based on figures from government surveys, the number of bicycle trips per day in the Australian state of Victoria fell by 44.7 per cent from 1985/86 to 2012/13 – the two dates being before and after mandatory cycle helmet laws were introduced in July 1990. The fall came despite the overall population having risen by 39 per cent in the same period. reports how the survey Day to Day Travel in Australia 1985/86 found that 466,100 cycle trips were made per day. In contrast, the Victorian Integrated Survey of Travel and Activity (Vista) from 2012/13 found that 257,855 cycle trips were made per day. The former survey also excluded all those under the age of nine, who are estimated to comprise around 15 per cent of the cycling population.

The figures do reveal a recent recovery in the numbers of people cycling to work. However, it seems this is almost entirely due to increases in Melbourne.

Based on Vista figures, daily weekday cycling participation in Melbourne increased by 58,815, or 31.8 per cent, from 2007/08 to 2012/13. However, this masks the fact that in regional Victoria it decreased from 27,295 in the same period. puts the difference down to government investment in Melbourne cycling infrastructure over the last decade.

The 2012/13 figure of 243,554 trips per day is also still down on the 1985/86 figure of 270,600 bicycle trips per day by cyclists aged nine and upwards. Greater Melbourne’s population was 2,968,000 in 1986 and 4,350,000 in 2013.

The Vista survey shows that 2.1 per cent of journeys made on a typical day in Melbourne were by bike in 2012/13. The Day to Day Travel in Australia 1985/86 indicated that 3.4 per cent of trips were made by bike in 1985/86. says:

“Melbourne's 58,815 increase in weekday cyclists from 2007/08 to 2012/13 should be seen in the context of pre-1990 bicycle helmet laws, which demonstrates an irrefutable and massive reduction in Victorian cycling participation that has profound implications for public health and road safety over the past 25 years and into the future.”

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