Is this the Golden Age of cycling?

samwood Roar Rookie

By samwood, samwood is a Roar Rookie

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    A number of weeks ago I began writing an article on the popularity and rapid growth of cycling worldwide. Then the Lance saga struck.

    These revelations threw a spanner into the idea behind my story that cycling popularity, both recreational and competitive, is on an ever upward curve.

    So the question now is, post Lance’s dramatic demise, will cycling continue to grow or will the revelations of widespread drug use damage the image and potential of the fastest growing sport in the world?

    Cycling over the past 10 years has undergone a renaissance across the world. The increasing use of bicycles for commuting, recreation and fitness is a result of rising fuel prices, worsening traffic congestion, crowded, unreliable public transport, greater health awareness and growing concern over global warming.

    In the English speaking world in recent years, British, Australian and American winners of the Tour de France have helped catapult cycling into what some are calling a ‘Golden Age’.

    Bicycling is growing fastest in large cities; New York has seen an increase of 289%, Portland, 219%, a 104% growth in Philadelphia, Sydney has experienced an 82% increase in the number of cyclists over just the past two years and London a 110% increase since 2000.

    A third of the US and UK populations cycle – half own a bike.

    The number of Americans who ride bicycles is greater than all those who ski, golf, and play tennis combined. Bicycling is the most popular outdoor activity for American youth and the second most popular outdoor activity in America by frequency of participation.

    In the last 10 years, 11 million bikes have been sold in Australia – that is 2 million more than the number of cars sold in the same period.

    Popular culture is also catching on.

    Hollywood films like Premium Rush, about bike couriers in New York, BBC documentaries like On Hannibal’s Trail, a historical travelogue on bikes, and regular popular bike festivals worldwide all demonstrate the accepted place of cycling not just as a sport but as a rapidly growing recreation and culture in its own right.

    So, will the damning revelations of state of cycling at the highest levels affect the people’s view on all levels – competitive and recreational – or is this drama viewed as irrelevant to the cycling world most of us occupy?

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • November 8th 2012 @ 9:57am
      Dylan Reynolds said | November 8th 2012 @ 9:57am | ! Report

      Interesting article. Not sure that the rise in cycling for transport will be too greatly impacted by the latest sordid revelations about drug use in professional cycling. I certainly won’t ride any less. What might be impacted though is the interest that professional cycling and the Grand Tours hold. Again this is subjective but I’m not sure I can be arsed to follow the races with the same fervour I once did.

    • November 8th 2012 @ 10:17am
      jameswm said | November 8th 2012 @ 10:17am | ! Report

      We’ve just got to sort out the attitudes of motorists across Sydney.

      Why do so many drivers have an in-built hatred of all cyclists? So many think cyclists should have to pay for a licence.

      Have they not heard about our obesity crisis, the cost of fuel and conservationism?

    • Roar Guru

      November 8th 2012 @ 12:44pm
      Bones506 said | November 8th 2012 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

      St Kilda Cycling club is Australia’s largest cycling club and is heading towards 900 members. Sunday crit racing is seeing over 300 people turn up and compete. Sandown twilight crits had 290 people start when it was 33 degrees two Tuesdays ago. The sport is flourishing at the ground level.

      • November 8th 2012 @ 12:56pm
        Dylan Reynolds said | November 8th 2012 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

        Hey Bones,

        The guy that wrote this blog – Sam – runs a bike tour business called Ride and Seek – http://www.rideandseek.com. I’m his partner in the business. We’ve just finished our Hannibal tour – Barcelona to Rome – which went very well. Are you in a position to get word out about the tour to St Kilda members?

        Cheers

        Dylan

        • Roar Guru

          November 12th 2012 @ 1:33pm
          Bones506 said | November 12th 2012 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

          Sure thing. You guys on Twitter. What is your twitter profile name.

          • November 12th 2012 @ 6:58pm
            Sam said | November 12th 2012 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

            Hi Bones,

            sam1wood is our twitter profile.

            Great to hear cycling is flourishing in Melbourne!

            best,

            Sam

    • November 8th 2012 @ 2:25pm
      Ridley said | November 8th 2012 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

      I reckon the Armstrong issue has as much relevance to commuter cyclists as finding Michael Schumacher somehow cheated would have on regular car drivers.

      • Editor

        November 8th 2012 @ 9:15pm
        Zac Zavos said | November 8th 2012 @ 9:15pm | ! Report

        Nice analogy Ridley!

        Welcome to The Roar cycling Sam & Dylan.

        Zac

        • Roar Guru

          November 8th 2012 @ 11:12pm
          Andy_Roo said | November 8th 2012 @ 11:12pm | ! Report

          If I remember correctly Schumaker did cheat and was stripped of the F1 title one year. But that is beside the point.
          Is cycling the fastest growing sport as you claim or is it merely the fastest growing activity? I think there is a clear distinction between the two.
          The Armstrong controversey will have a negative impact on cycle racing but also raise awareness of the sport at the same time. As they say ‘any publicity is good publicity’.
          The activity of cycling will not be affected at all and will continue to grow at the fast rates you claim. People who ride for fitness, commuting or merely for enjoyment will not be affected at all

          • Roar Guru

            November 12th 2012 @ 1:32pm
            Bones506 said | November 12th 2012 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

            One of the fastest growing activities but at the grass roots level of cycling in so far as racing the sport is flourishing as well. This will not stop.

    • November 8th 2012 @ 11:09pm
      Phil said | November 8th 2012 @ 11:09pm | ! Report

      If you look back at the history of the TDF, some guys have caught trains to make up time! I think if the sport flourished in spite of such blatant cheating, it will also survive this blip on the radar. I admit to being a Lance fan and was sadly disappointed, but, I’m still looking forward to next years TDF and all the other races. 🙂

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