Our current, but soon to be ex, Premier made the comment just before election day that while “the Polls may be saying one thing … the streets are telling her another.“*
Well, heading into this years Hobart Commuter Bike Count, I can confidently say that the streets were telling me that cycling in Hobart is growing and diversifying.
What has got me saying this?
Well it’s the little things … for example, I set off to ride into work the other day on my electric bike, and just 300 metres from my house I was overtaken by another cyclist on another power assisted (albeit noisy lawnmower type engine) bike.
That was my first known overtake by another power assisted bike.
A week after that I was driving into work down Macquarie Street when for the first time ever I wished that it was legal to use my mobile phone whilst driving because if it was I would have taken a photo of this urban styled guy in front of me riding his fixie and the girl in front of him riding her big heavy commuter with flowery basket up front. They both looked very cool.
Then there was that ride home the other night where I pulled up on Sandy Bay Road near St Ives and found myself in a pod (is that the established term?) of seven cyclists including some commuters and some roadies no doubt heading off for an evening spin. There was a time when eight cyclists in Hobart would have been a contender for front page news in The Mercury.
What really excited me though was when I cycled past the primary school next to the Hobart Rivulet Track on my way to work the other day and saw this …
Yep, a full bike rack at the back of a school. It’s not quite what I saw over in Europe or Vietnam, but it still shows that if you have good and safe infrastructure (like the Rivulet track) the riders will come …
So leading up to the big day, the streets were screaming at me that cycling was going through a boom time in both diversity and numbers, and so I packed an extra pencil and registration sheet the night before “the only count that counts” ready to record the explosion in cycling numbers.
As usual I got to my count place about 45 minutes early (6.15am) to ensure I could park my car in my ‘secret’ spot and so watch all the cyclists go past unobserved. Then, as happens every year, a half dozen or so cyclists all went zooming past in the 15 minutes leading up to 7am so I couldn’t count them …
|My intersection at the bottom of Fitzroy Park|
Then 7am ticked over and I sat there getting bored for 45 minutes because barely a cyclist went past.
I was really worried by 7.30am as I had counted more people walking their dogs than I had cyclists.
Fortunately as the morning progressed, numbers slowly climbed and by the end of the two hours I had clocked up 56 cyclists … which was not very impressive and definitely down on the last two years counts of around 68 (from memory).
This was not something that the streets had predicted.
The good news was that the diversity of cyclists was as good as last year with at least three electric bikes whizzing past, lots of really relaxed commuter bikes, and the ‘lycra set’ being noticeable only by their almost complete absence.
But what’s got me thinking is this …
* actually she technically said “The polls say one thing but the street says another.” but that didn’t read as well.