Riding a bike is 39 times better than going to the gym, Queenslanders say

78% of Queenslanders who have taken up bike riding for exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic prefer bike riding over going back to the gym.

This is one of the findings in a survey commissioned by Bicycle Queensland, which had more than 3000 responses from new and existing bike riders over the past two weeks.

Bike riding and sales of bicycles have boomed during the home confinement phase of COVID-19 restrictions, as Queenslanders seized the opportunity to get out of the house once a day for exercise. Families with children being home-schooled also were grateful for the chance to be outside, often riding together for the first time.

Bike retailers such as 99 Bikes, and online retailer Pushys, reported item as diverse as indoor trainers and child seats were sold out, and re-stocking is proving to be a challenge.

But overall, bike sales were reported by retailers to be up between 50% and 500%, depending on the category.

Automated counters on Brisbane City Council’s bikeway network have reported a massive increase in the number of bike riders. On Kedron Brook bikeway, numbers are up about 300%. 

Bicycle Queensland CEO Rebecca Randazzo said: “This is an opportunity for all levels of Government to be bold, and to work together.”

“The numbers are irrefutable – Queenslanders want to be active, whether it’s about getting to work or getting some exercise.”

“We need to provide safe spaces for people to ride, and the time to act is now.”

John Reghenzani, who lives at Paddington and works at Newstead, is one such commuter, who is returning to office work after home confinement.

“I’ve determined for myself that riding to work is the way to go. I’m killing two birds with one stone … getting exercise to combat my sedentary lifestyle while getting to work more quickly than if I took the bus.

“I’m not a morning person, so riding to work clears out the cobwebs in the morning, and on the way home it helps to get rid of the workplace angst,” John said.

Respondents to Bicycle Queensland’s survey said they started riding bikes during the pandemic because they couldn’t go to the gym (36%), or because cycling is exercise that is gentler on the body than running or walking (36%), or because cycling is exercise they can do with a partner or the whole family (32%). They didn’t ride before the pandemic because of lack of time (40%) or concerns about personal safety (32%).

Most of these new riders are riding on bike paths (76%) or in bike lanes on roads. They are buying road bikes or hybrid/commuter bikes. About 50% of them spent more than $1000 on their new bike, and also dropped another $150-200 on accessories.

They are finding their fitness is improving (68%), and they are discovering their neighbourhood (32%). Best of all, cycling brings joy into their life (65%)!

And a vast majority believe that bike riding will continue to be a regular activity in their life, even once the pandemic is over (81%). Only 2% would prefer to go back to the gym!

These new riders would like to see better cycling facilities, closer to their homes (57%), better end of trip facilities at work (44%), and education course such as bike maintenance, bike skills and route planning.

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