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Commuting trends in Australia

This page needs revision.
For more comprehensive and up-to-date information, see
Changes in cycle use in Australia

Commuter cycling to work in Australia dropped sharply following the enactment of mandatory bicycle helmet legislation.

In the table below, blue figures refer to censuses carried out before the enforcement of bike helmet legislation (the date for which varied from state to state), and the red figures refer to censuses carried out when helmet use was compulsory.

In all cases, the proportion of people commuting by bike remained lower in 2001 than it was prior to the enactment of the helmet laws a decade before.

Census Year Brisbane Melbourne Perth Sydney All Australia
1976 0.71% 0.97% 0.92% 0.36% 1.11%
1981 1.05% 1.21% 1.16% 0.63% 1.47%
1986 1.16% 1.05% 1.37% 0.66% 1.63%
1991 1.53% 1.05% 1.68% 0.74% 1.63%
1996 1.16% 0.92% 1.11% 0.61% 1.21%
2001 1.11% 1.00% 1.12% 0.60% 1.15%

The effect of helmet legislation in discouraging cycling has been greater amongst women than men, as shown in the table below. The shift in cycle use away from women is in contradiction to the increasing proportion of women in the workforce - 37% in 1976 rising to 43% in 2001.

Census Year Adelaide Male/Female ratio
1976 2.3% 2.6 to 1
1981 2.2% 3.0 to 1
1986 2.3% 3.5 to 1
1991 2.0% 4.5 to 1
1996 1.2% 5.0 to 1
2001 1.2% 4.7 to 1

Source: National Census

See also