Aussies in spin with cycling fever
AS THE nation gears up for the world's most prestigious cycling race, the Tour de France, a new study has revealed that in the wake of Cadel Evans' heroic 2011 win, Australians have shown increasing admiration for the two-wheeled sport.
Cycling was voted the fourth- most-popular leisure sport in Australia with three-quarters (82%) of the population saying they would cycle more if the roads were safer or it didn't ruin their hair or make-up.
The Cycling Study, commissioned by the official partner of Le Tour de France - Le Coq Sportif, found that despite the rise in popularity of cool, fixed-gear bikes, Melbourne's Bike Share initiative and Sydney bike lanes, the main reason people did not fulfil their love of cycling was because they were too scared of the roads.
Nearly half (42%) of those surveyed declared they would like to ride a bike to work but didn't because drivers were too aggressive, while one in five were more worried they would get sweaty and ruin their makeup.
A total of 12% of Australians were concerned their hair would look messy after being jammed under a helmet but thankfully more than half of those Aussies surveyed (53%) said they always wore a helmet and believed it was a safety must. One in 10 said they would love to cycle more if they had a trendy, customised bike.
But if petrol prices continue to skyrocket, there might be a serious shift back to cycling, with one in three surveyed admitting petrol hikes had made them consider cycling instead of driving.
In the survey, 22% of Australians admitted they had "cycling fever", peddling it in as their favourite sports leisure activity above swimming, dancing and jogging.
And it's not just the athletic benefits that get us going - one in 10 Australians ranked a romantic bike ride and picnic as their most ideal date. The study also found:
- Mountain bikes were the number one choice of bike for Australians (42%), followed by vintage bikes and fixies (18%) and performance bikes (17%).
- Men were twice as likely (29%) than women (15%) to enjoy cycling as a leisure activity.
- NSW has the biggest cycling fans with (28%) cycling once a fortnight or more, followed by Victoria (27%) and SA (23%).
- Cadel Evans' win at last year's Tour de France affected people in more ways than one with 7% of people surveyed saying his heroic display had encouraged them to cycle more or learn how to ride.
- Women (23%) are three times more likely than men (8%) to be turned off by members of the opposite sex wearing lycra.
- 8% of Australians admit they don't know how to ride a bike.
Running from this Saturday to Sunday, July 22, the 99th Tour de France will be made up of one prologue and 20 stages and will cover a total distance of 3479km.