17 October 2012 — The bicycle industry is growing and expected to hit $2.4 billion in the next five years, with Canberra topping the nation’s cities for bike riding enthusiasts, followed by Adelaide and Melbourne, according to analysis of the latest Census data by IBISWorld.

IBISWorld general manager Australia Karen Dobie said with Australia’s bicycle industry worth $1.93 billion “when you combine retail, repair, maintenance, wholesale and manufacturing activities” it was anticipated there would be solid growth of 4.4 per cent over the next five years to reach $2.4 billion.

“The impetus behind the growth is most likely a combination of high petrol prices, traffic congestion and difficult and costly parking in most of the country’s major CBD districts,” she said.

“Increased investment in cycling infrastructure – such as designated bike lanes and tracks – has also contributed to growth, along with heightened awareness of the environmental impact of driving, and the health and fitness benefits of cycling.”

The statistics, from 2006, show that geography plays the biggest part in cycling to work – or not.

Those in Canberra are the most likely to opt for pedal power (2.5 per cent), followed by Adelaide (1.5 per cent), Melbourne (1.3 per cent), Perth (1.2 per cent), Brisbane and Hobart (each 1.1 per cent), with Sydney lagging behind at 0.7 per cent of commuters.

Car use however is still strong.

Census data of major Australian cities shows 76.1 per cent drive to work, 15.2 per cent of commuters use public transport, 4 per cent live close enough to walk and just 1.1 per cent choose bicycles.

Ms Dobie said the University of Melbourne reports that cycling peaked at about a 10 per cent share of commuter journeys in 1951.

On the flip side, Sydney has the highest percentage of workers using public transport (21.2 per cent), followed some way behind by Melbourne (13.9 per cent) and Brisbane (13.8 per cent). Those living in Hobart are the least likely to use public transport (6.4 per cent).

Adelaidians are the most reluctant to part with their cars, with 82.1 per cent of commuters driving to work, compared with 82 per cent in Perth, 81.4 per cent in Hobart, 81.1 per cent in Canberra, 78.1 per cent in Melbourne, 76.9 per cent in Brisbane and 69.6 per cent in Sydney.