The question on many children’s minds this Christmas is ‘will I get a bicycle this year’? Historically, receiving a bicycle is a major milestone for every child, the ticket to a fun and active childhood and a healthy future.
But despite being at the top of every child’s list this Christmas, Aussie kids are less and less likely to receive a bike for Christmas.
Increased traffic on local roads, lack of safe places to cycle especially to school and a prohibition for children over 12 riding on footpaths in New South Wales and Victoria corresponds with a significant impact on children’s health status and levels of physical activity.
“We need to do more to enable our children to ride their new bicycle this Christmas,” says the Australian Cycling Promotion Foundation’s Stephen Hodge.
“It is about time we changed the rules that allow them to ride on the footpath in NSW and Victoria one day, and force them onto the road the next day when they turn 12, also the subject of a campaign by Sydney parent Callum Gordon,” said Hodge.
For parents, a bike should be the first choice this Christmas. Not only relatively low cost—compared to games consoles and smart phones—bicycles give children the freedom to be physically active outdoors, have fun, interact socially with friends in their neighbourhood and an unparalleled degree of character-building independence.
The latest Australian data shows however that nearly 71% of Australian children from the ages of 5 – 11 years are not meeting recommended levels of physical activity. This rises alarmingly to 91.5% of young people (12 – 17 years).
Children and adolescents in 2014–15 were also significantly more likely to be overweight or obese at ages 10–13 and 14–17 than those of the same age 20 years earlier.
“The fact the industry has reported a 22% drop in sales of children’s bicycles over the last decade simply confirms this lack of physical activity amongst kids,” said Hodge,
“We know that where separated cycling paths are available, many more children cycle, scoot and walk to school.”
The Australian Cycling Promotion Foundation is concerned that it has become too hard for children to be active as part of their daily trips to school and other local destinations.
“Let’s give our children a better chance for long term health and well-being and make it possible for them to ride the bikes we buy this year for Christmas,” Hodge said.
“We believe that a focus on safe routes to school for our children is a major step to building a healthier, more engaged and more successful future generation,” Mr Hodge said.
“Building safe, separated infrastructure takes time, so we should be considering an immediate change to the rules in NSW and Victoria to allow children to ride their bikes on footpaths until the age of 16.”
Together with many of Australia’s foremost health experts the Foundation is a member of the Australian Health Policy Collaboration for the development of a national approach to active travel for school children which is due for release early in 2018.
Children cycle more when they have access to safe routes to school, recent data from the City of Sydney shows 40% of 10 to 17 year-olds in the City area are riding bikes, double the greater Sydney figure (quoted in ).
A national survey by the ACPF and Heart Foundation found that 60% of parents drive their children to school, just over a quarter walk to school, one in five use public transport and just over one in ten ride a bike, also
Whilst seven in ten parents surveyed think it is important for children to be able to independently ride a bike, close to half do not believe that it is safe for children to ride a bike to school.
Eight in ten parents surveyed agreed that there is too much traffic on the roads and there are not enough bike paths for children to cycle safely to school.
The Australian Cycling Promotion Foundation (previously the Cycling Promotion Fund) builds on nearly 20 years of national advocacy to inspire all Australians to choose cycling. As an independent voice in Australia, we are working to:
Secure the infrastructure and programs to ensure cycling contributes to healthy, safe and enjoyable mobility for all
Build the case for investment in infrastructure
Disseminate evidence and data to support the role of cycling in community and national agendas,
Present the positive, healthy and safe reality of daily cycling across the country by children, adults and seniors from all walks of life.
Media contacts for comment and interviews:
Australian Cycling Promotion Foundation – Stephen Hodge, mob. 0411 149 910, shodge(at) cyclingpromotion.com.au; Peter Bourke mob. 0438 871 271, pbourke (at)cyclingpromotion.com.au
 The Australian Cycling Promotion Foundation was launched on 1st July 2017 as an independent not-for-profit foundation, building on nearly twenty years of national bicycle advocacy by the Cycling Promotion Fund.