15,000 expect to take up cycling

The statistics do not lie - more people are using Dunedin's cycleways and more are expected to follow in their tyre tracks.

Figures released by the Dunedin City Council show a seasonal fluctuation in the number of cyclists using three main cycling routes - along Portsmouth Dr, Victoria and North Rds - but also a steady trend upwards.

And survey results released by the New Zealand Transport Agency, compiled by market research company Neilsen, showed Dunedin was bucking the trend when it came to an expected uptake in cycling.

The company's figures showed 15,000 people in Dunedin expected to take up cycling in the next six months.

That represented 14.3% of the city's population, and the expected increase was 37% higher than the national average expected uptake of 10.4%, the survey found.

That was based on a quarterly survey of 12,000 people nationwide, on topics including transport.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the results vindicated the council's decision to invest in cycling infrastructure, despite the difficulties encountered in parts of South Dunedin.

''The difficulty we always had was until cycleways were in, we couldn't be absolutely sure about the demand for them.

''We knew there were a whole lot of people who simply wouldn't cycle on the road unless they felt safer than they had up until then.

''Even when it's not ideal, and we've acknowledged that, we're still getting higher patronage. That's encouraging.''

The predicted increase in cycling in Dunedin, as forecast by Neilsen, was particularly ''interesting'' given the city's sometimes challenging terrain.

''Some of the critics have pointed out, and quite understandably, that great parts of Dunedin are hilly. If you were looking at cities that might be suitable for cycling, you mightn't pick Dunedin first up.

''It's interesting even in a hilly city ... there's still a real demand.''

Counters installed on Portsmouth Dr, Victoria Rd and North Rd have been measuring the number of cyclists using the routes since February last year.

The weekly counts for North Rd showed summer spikes in activity, followed by a quieter period during winter, but also that usage was generally higher this year than at the corresponding time last year.

The numbers fluctuated between about 540 a week in winter and about 2300 a week in March this year, while the total count for October - the most recent month available - stood at 6718, or an average of 217 users each day.

Portsmouth Dr's results were largely steady, at between about 1200 and 2700 a week, over the period, but the total count for October was 7808, or an average of 252 per day.

Victoria Rd's use had grown from a low base of less than 100 a week to top 750 a week last month, the figures showed.

October's total of 1895 on Victoria Rd amounted to an average use of 61 cyclists per day, but that was affected by school holidays, as the route was largely used by school pupils, council senior transportation planner Kylie Huard said.

NZTA data for two other routes showed 3582 cyclists used Cumberland St in October, averaging 116 per day, while 4820 used Great King St, averaging 155 per day.

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