Have the wheels fallen off the cycling boom?

FEWER wheels are turning for cyclists in Rouse Hill and neighbouring areas, new research shows.

A study by the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health suggests the Australian cycling boom is a myth as the uptake of cycling has not kept pace with population growth.

It found there were 37.5 per cent fewer Australians riding bikes last year than in 1986, when the earliest known official survey of daily cyclist numbers was taken.

But the average daily count of cyclists who ride on the M7 cycleway through Glenwood has jumped from 156 to 239 in the past three years.

Kellyville Ridge resident Marjorie Au said the route was an exception, with many bike paths in the area too short to attract a lot of cyclists.

“On the M7 shared path you can go for 40-odd kilometres — we need more cycleways like this,” she said.

“Around Stanhope Gardens and Rouse Hill there’s a reasonable amount of cycling infrastructure, certainly with new roads and reserves round Kellyville Ridge and The Ponds.”

A Bicycle NSW representative said people were often deterred from cycling by not knowing where to ride. “We often hear about lack of infrastructure such as dedicated cycle paths separated from cars as the main reason people don’t cycle,” she said.

Cyclist Mark Robson said the shared path beside Windsor and Old Windsor roads was not the best.

“There are 26 sets of traffic lights between Rouse Hill Town Centre and Westmead Hospital, resulting in a piece of infrastructure that is thoroughly useless and very unattractive,” he said. “In comparison, the M7 shared path covers nearly 40 kilometres from Norwest to Casula without a single intersection, road crossing or traffic light.”

The Hills Shire Council has spent about $4 million on off-road cycle ways and about the same again for on-road cycleways over the past 17 years. The most recently completed is an 800-metre cycleway at the rear of the Rouse Hill netball complex and a 700-metre shared path along Victoria Avenue at Castle Hill which connects the industrial park to the cycleway network that leads into Kellyville, Beaumont Hills and Rouse Hill.

Blacktown Council also recently completed the first review of its bike plan since 2002 to prioritise 14 routes, including a connection to Rouse Hill Regional Park from Quakers Hill.