It’s been a great year for cycling in South Australia. Christian Haag, CEO of Bicycle SA, runs through some of the year’s achievements.
2015 has been another terrific year for Bike SA and while not without the usual challenges, the organisation continues to grow with turnover up by 11% for the year and membership up marginally.
In all we’ve seen around 70,000 interactions with Bike SA activities – either from those riding, learning or supporting our advocacy work for greater investment in SA cycling.
It will come as no surprise that the big-ticket item for the year was the new road rules requiring mandatory passing distances between vehicles and bikes. Added to this – riders now have the opportunity to ride on the footpath.
The public’s response closely mirrored that of the Queensland experience over a year ago – a brief but intense period of media commentary followed by more a more reasoned community conversation when it was generally accepted that the changes were to the benefit of all road users.
We surveyed our members and subscriber-friends one week after the introduction of the new rules and the response was generally positive, with 56% noting that motorists were leaving more room and 49% of women saying that the ability to ride on the footpath would encourage them to ride more.
The real test though will come after a year and Bike SA has committed to undertaking follow-up surveys at the 3, 6 and 12 month point.
From our one-day mass participation events of Amy’s Ride SA and Coast to Coast, to our multi day tours of the Annual Tour and Outback Odyssey, it has been encouraging to hear that the quality of our event work is up there with some of the best riding experiences across the nation. We’ve also formed a great partnership with Clare & Gilbert Valley Council and the District Council of Copper Coast to put on the inaugural Wine Wheels & Whiting weekend – and new tourism event which was a smashing success. Over 350 cyclists to enjoy a weekend of road riding and good food in Clare and Wallaroo.
We are only able to do this of course due to the tireless support that our volunteers provide in helping us to get more people riding in SA.
Increasing as it does very year, our Free Rides Programme continues to provide easy and free access to anyone to ride in a safe and supportive environment. We have over 2,500 organised rides (on road and off) across the state. Again this program is delivered by our energetic volunteer Ride Leaders.
Bike SA has been delivering premium bicycle education services through the state to primary school children for many years. We are proud to deliver the government’s Way2Go Bike Ed program. 2015 saw over 5,000 kids learn to ride safely and with the recent announcement that we were again awarded the contract for a further two years, this will see us giving more and more children the gift of freedom by riding their bikes safely.
Additionally, we were proud to have had our funding for our Bikes Palya program extended for its third and final year. This terrific program sees our dedicated instructors working for 20 weeks each year across 10 remote indigenous communities in the APY Lands. The program is having a lasting and positive effect on children as well as the broader community.
A video of our Bikes Palya Programme.
Of course our funding partners are incredibly important to us. The Office for Recreation and Sport continues to support the work that we do and the generosity of our corporate sponsors must be acknowledged. To this end we thank Boileau Business Technology, the Adelaide Advertiser, Roof Rack City and the many other sponsors that support us.
And our long standing partnership with The Smith Family and Amy Gillett Foundation help to broaden our networks into the charitable sector.
One of the great benefits of working on behalf of SA’s riding community are the extraordinary stories that pop up – from the inspiring to the downright crazy – and this year was no exception.
At our recent Gear Up Girl SA event, there were tears and hugs at the Mt Lofty refreshment station for two women. Why? Because they made it, achieving their personal challenge.
It appears that 2015 was once again the unofficial year of the unicycle. While in 2014 – our Marketing Manager Julian Ferguson decided to ride up to Mt Lofty in a clown costume. This year Lindsey Colla conquered the Mawson Trail on unicycle – that’s right, 900km of off-road riding from Adelaide to Blinman in the Flinders Ranges during our Outback Odyssey event.
2015 was also our second year as an inaugural board member of the World Cycling Alliance, the culmination of which was the dedicated work in preparation for the Paris climate change convention. WCA’s auspicing body, the European Cyclists Federation ensured that active mobility through cycling was recognised for its capacity to make a meaningful contribution to reducing transport based greenhouse gas emissions.
On a personal note, I must express my gratitude to our 45 wonderful full-time, part-time and casual staff who work tirelessly to get more people riding in our great state.
And on behalf of our staff, volunteers and members of the Bike SA Executive Committee we wish you all a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year and look forward to seeing more of you out there riding with Bike SA on our roads, tracks and trails in 2016.