last four years, Sydney has become a city of cyclers, with the number of
bike-riding residents increasing by more than 130% since 2010. Comparatively,
it took 10 years to double the number of cyclists in London.
the culture shift came about because of the 110km cycleways network – dedicated cycling lanes
that helped provide bikers with safer scenic routes for their daily commute. Starting
in Sydney’s city centre and expanding to suburbs such as Alexandria and Pyrmont,
the network is on track to reach 200km by 2030. Speciality cafes and improved
biking facilities have also contributed to the culture’s growth.
annual Sydney Rides Festival, taking place until
25 October, showcases the city’s vibrant cycling culture, offering more than 20
events including bike-inspired art exhibitions and cycle-themed film screenings,
not to mention free pedal-powered smoothies.
year is Sydney Rides the
Night, a 25 October event that will see thousands of cyclists tackling a 2.5km
course that’s lined with light installations and special effects. “We want all
kinds of people to experience Sydney, whether they’re a regular rider, dusting
off the bike in the garage or just starting up,” said City of Sydney cycling
manager Fiona Campbell.
man Mark Ledbury cycles 2.5km daily from his home in Pyrmont to his workplace
at The University of Sydney. Although Ledbury has been biking since he was six,
he said he’s just now noticing more cyclists on the roads. “The cycle culture
is growing fast because it’s being actively encouraged – by new routes, by
cycling festivals and events, by new maps and the online culture of cycling,” he
said. “People [are] logging rides and suggesting good route tips for other
commuters and cyclists.”
Donald, passionate cyclist and organiser of the Sydney Rides’ Cycle-O-Rama (a bicycle-themed exhibition
at the artsy bike-design space Protohub), doesn’t cycle simply to get from point A to point B; he said it’s a
way to connect with his creative side. Since starting to cycle at the age of
17, Donald has owned more than 100 bikes (he’s never owned a car) and now he modifies
bikes as well, occasionally showcasing his creations at exhibitions. “I worked
out [that] I could use my love of cycling as a creative outlet,” he said. “To
me it’s about promoting cycling in a different way and making it more
accessible to the general public.”
promotion is working. Visit the Sydney
Park Cycling Centre in St Peters on the weekend and you’ll see the smiling
faces of kids learning to cycle, confidently whizzing past on colourful bikes. The
track has been used for cycling courses and bike education since 2003, and even
has a functioning traffic light to teach children how to cycle safely on roads.
course, with the expanding cycleways network and the continued growth in cycling
culture, the next generations may be biking through a very different Sydney.
Tatyana Leonov is
the Sydney Localite for BBC Travel