Are the Demographics of Cyclists Changing?

Up till quite recently, if you saw someone riding a bike in Christchurch there would have been a pretty good chance they would have been a male, aged 18-45, athletic, and  dressed in a special outfit just for riding (lycra, hi-viz). In recent years we’ve realised that the reason no-one else rides bikes is mainly because they don’t feel safe sharing roads with traffic. A big part of what we’re doing around Christchurch now is aimed at changing that and building infrastructure that anyone can use. Designing for anyone aged 8-80 has been a goal of the cycleways.

It’s purely anecdotal, but I reckon there is a noticeable shift in the types of people riding bikes in Christchurch, indicating that the approach is working. I’ve put together a selection of photos I’ve taken around town over the last couple of months.

On the school run I’ve noticed a lot of kids using the new cycleways. I’ve also noticed a lot are not on bikes, but on scooters and skateboards. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the new cycleways have more of these devices than they do bicycles using them.

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Many are unaccompanied by parents, but plenty are accompanied too.

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Parking at the local high school indicates a lot of kids biking and scootering to school.

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Even where there are no cycleways kids are still biking/scootering. The recent “walk and wheel to school” promotion got lots of kids out and about – this was a few hundred metres down the road from the local primary school at about 8:45am. It’s pretty obvious that we need safer footpaths and crossings in our neighbourhoods than what we have here.

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More Mums and Dads are taking primary school kids to school on these chunky e-bikes.

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More of these bike trailers are being used to ferry kids to and from the local pre-school.

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I have a workmate who drops kids off, then carries on to work on this beast.

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Getting away from the schools and closer to town, the demographic changes to this. Note that there’s both females and males, a range of ages, and people are mostly just wearing regular clothes, not putting on special outfits for biking.

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I see the odd oversized unicycle too – am interested to see if these catch on in a big way or not, or if we start seeing e-unicycles at all.

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Of course there’s the Lime scooters which are changing the way people view mobility in the city. People using these are almost always just normal looking people of a variety of ages, sexes and walks of life. No one dresses up in hi-viz or lycra for these.

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Purely based on observations, I think the demographic of people riding bikes around Christchurch is changing from a small group of lycra-clad athletes, to now include people of all ages and all walks of life. The rise of scooters as similar travel option to bikes is also noticeable, and again the demographic of people using them is broad.

Have you noticed a change in the type of people riding bikes/scooters around Christchurch?

2 thoughts on “Are the Demographics of Cyclists Changing?

  1. I certainly have seen much more kids on bikes and scooters out there. I still do not see many boomers cycling, I wonder what it will take to get them out of their cars ! I find this interesting because the below article about cycling in the Netherlands mentions that cycling demographics are different there:

    The aging population in the Netherlands accounts for a large part of the growth in cycling. Older people cycle longer and more distance.

    https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/dutch-cycling-figures/

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    1. Yes I also have to admit I haven’t seen a whole lot of elderly people riding bikes in Christchurch. I’m not sure why not – possibly it’s just the places and times that I tend to go maybe don’t cross over much with the places and times that elderly people go out. But it might be a cultural difference too. If someone has barely ever ridden a bike in their life, they’re maybe less likely to take it up in their old age.

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