Ride2Work perseverance shows willing spirit

THOUSANDS of people who rode to work for the first time on Ride2Work Day last year have become regular riders.

But many cyclists said poor bike infrastructure discouraged them from riding more often.

A Bicycle Network survey of 11,000 people has shown that almost 40 per cent of riders who rode for the first time on Ride2Work Day last October are still riding at least once a week. And of those who took up riding at any time in the past year, 63 per cent - about 4000 people - now ride at least once a week, and 21 per cent most days.

Stephanie Hamilton, 31, took up riding on Ride2Work Day in 2010 and still commutes by bike at least four times a week.

She says it wasn't just the free breakfast at Federation Square that lured her to start riding on the official day, but the day's ''support and encouragement'' and ''knowing there'd be a lot of other people riding to work that day''.

The Ride2Work program, run by Bicycle Network Victoria, encourages people to give riding a go and tries to help them overcome problems they've had commuting by bike.

The survey found the most common barriers were commitments either before or after work, and the weather. The lack of bicycle route infrastructure - bike lanes, paths, traffic lights - was also perceived as an issue by a quarter of respondents.

While Ms Hamilton says there are decent bike paths coming to the city from her home in Brunswick, bicycle congestion remains her biggest obstacle.

Melbourne Bicycle User Group (BUG) spokesman Nik Dow says cycling is ''fragile'' and poor conditions in the city can easily turn new riders off bicycle commuting.


''The CBD is still much too hostile for bikes … if you want to get people riding to work and keep them at it, you've got to do something about that last kilometre,'' he says.

But the retention of almost 40 per cent of new riders from one day shows having a Ride2Work Day is important, he says.

''If you've been thinking about it and haven't gotten around to it yet, Ride2Work is the little trigger that you need to get started. And, of course, once you've done something once, you know you can do it again.''

More than 45,000 people registered for last year's Ride2Work Day. This year's event is on October 17.