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Love to Ride

Our August seminar heard about the Love to Ride travel behaviour change program and how it has been used in Brisbane’s travel behaviour change program. It was a very timely seminar as Brisbane’s Love to Ride program runs for the month of September. The Love to Ride program has been running for 13 years and has been effective in encouraging over 120,000 people to cycle who are new riders. The program has a presence in 12 countries with the largest number of participants in New Zealand where they run a country-wide program.

Andrew Ross introduced the seminar, sharing why Brisbane City Council chose to use the Love to Ride program as part of their Travel Behaviour Change program. The program is primarily focussed on encouraging people to cycle for transport and bringing about a cultural shift in people’s attitudes to cycling. The most effective way to do this is to use workplace programs as an engagement platform for peer-to-peer encouragement.

The program is based on travel behaviour change theory and is aimed at people who are interesting in cycling, but their concerns stop them from riding for transport. Although focussed on encouraging cycling for transport, it recognises that people need to be encouraged from the place where they feel confident. The program therefore encourages people to cycle for recreation and with family, not just cycling to work. This is an effective way to allow people to become confident to consider cycling for transport at some time in the future.

Love to Ride has shown to be effective in encouraging new riders to take up cycling to work. In post-event surveys undertaken 3 and 6 months after a Love to Ride program, a significant proportion of new riders reported that they are riding to work regularly. Women are half as likely to be riding to work regularly, with a lack of safe cycling routes being a major factor preventing women with a bicycle from riding to work.

Christina Sorbello is Love to Ride's Regional Manager for Asia Pacific. She shared research she has done using participant survey data from before and after Love to Ride events. She has interrogated the data to see who of the 60% of people who are ‘interested but concerned’ is most likely to cycle for transport. A really topical finding from the research is that people who currently commute by bus are almost twice as likely as car commuters to become cycle commuters. Interestingly, train commuters are not much different to car drivers in how likely they are to start commuting by bicycle. This is probably because in most cities buses tend to serve shorter-distance commutes, which trains tend to serve longer-distance commutes.

Distance, safety and lack of end-of-trip facilities are the three biggest barriers cited by Love to Ride participants for not commuting by bicycle. The first of these is a structural issue in our low-density cities, but e-bikes will likely to reduce the importance of this factor over time. Improving our cycling network and providing end-of-trip facilities at work are the basic building-blocks to getting more people to cycle to work. Without these basics in place, travel behaviour change programs cannot be effective in getting people to consider cycling to work.

In Brisbane’s COVID affected Love to Ride event in September it will be interesting to see how people’s behaviours will be different to previous years. I now only ride my bike to work once or twice a week, but that is because I work from home three to four days a week. Will more people be choosing cycling over public transport for their commute, I know I have.

If you have not yet registered for Brisbane’s Love to Ride event in September, do it now and you have the opportunity to win a new e-bike. Your participation also helps Brisbane City Council better understand what people need to encourage them to cycle more often.

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