Getting more people riding, more often is our vision for a healthier Tasmania. Taking that bike out of the shed and giving it a dust off, even if it’s just once or twice a week, has a lot of positive benefits, including fitness and social contact.
Cycling involves all the major muscle groups and can be a high cardio vascular exercise without weight bearing stress to muscles and joints. The Cycling25 project in Hobart followed 25 volunteer non-riders who committed to riding 40 km or four times a week for a year. Twenty one people finished the program and, in return, kept the bike they were given at the start of the year. There were highly positive outcomes around average fitness, improved mood, and an increase in recreational riding with family and friends.
Many people I speak to about bike riding say they would like to ride more often. One of the main barriers is lack of low-stress routes between people’s homes and destinations. We need routes that don’t require riding on roads that exceed people’s tolerance for traffic stress, and that do not involve long detours. Tasmania is slowly working towards implementing key arterial bike networks in urban centres but needs to be moving faster to tackle the challenges we face around obesity, work stress, cutting carbon, tackling congestion and providing cheaper travel options.
Providing infrastructure that makes cycling a fun, cheap, social way to get around is an important part of tackling many complex social-environmental challenges. Bicycle Tasmania, Heart Foundation and many other groups are working towards getting local and state governments to prioritise funding and planning to make these low stress connections a reality to get more people riding, more often.
Emma Pharo, Facilities Development Manager