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On your bike! Cycling participation picks up speed

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2014–March 2015 (n=15,913); Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2004–March 2015 (n=9,795) and April 2014–March 2015 (n=6,712). Image: CC, Kenneth Allen,

As anyone who drives a car would have noticed, the number of cyclists on Australian roads has sky-rocketed in the past decade. Whereas 13% of the population (or 2.1 million people) cycled regularly or occasionally in 2005, the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research show that this has now reached 19% (or 3.7 million people). Love them or loathe them, there’s no escaping them — especially in WA, cycling’s heartland…

Twenty-three percent of Western Australians aged 14+ ride their bike either regularly or occasionally, the highest cycling participation rate in the country. Given its famed climate, a capital city with more sunny days per year than any other Australian capital, and some truly scenic metropolitan cycle paths, this is not particularly surprising.

In second place is Victoria, where 20% of the population cycle. Factor in Melbourne’s hipster fraternity tootling around the inner-city on their ‘fixies’, a comprehensive network of urban and regional cycling paths, and a busy events calendar for enthusiasts, and this also makes sense.

The state of the cycling nation: cycling participation by state


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2014–March 2015 (n=15,913).

Residents of Tasmania (15%) and NSW/ACT (17%) are less likely to cycle, but like the other states, their participation rates have risen since 2005.

The rise of the MAMIL (middle-aged man in lycra)

It seems that cycling’s popularity knows no bounds, having risen among men (22%, up from 16%), women (16%, up from 9%), and all age groups except boys aged 14-17 years old. Once the age group with the highest cycling participation rate (33% rode their bike either occasionally or regularly back in 2005), the ‘yellow jersey’ now belongs to men aged 34-49!

Did somebody say MAMIL? Cycling among Aussie men: 2005 vs 2015


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2004–March 2015 (n=9,795) and April 2014–March 2015 (n=6,712).

Over the last decade, there has been a surge in more mature male cyclists, with participation rates rising from 18% to 26% among men aged 35-49 years, doubling among men aged 50-64 (from 12% to 24%) and more than doubling from 6% to 13% among men aged 65+.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Along with working out at the gym, jogging, swimming and hiking/bushwalking, cycling is one of Australia’s key growth sports, gaining 1.6 million additional participants over the last decade. This is almost certainly the result of a number of factors: soaring petrol prices, congested roads, over-crowded public transport and Cadel Evans’s 2011 Tour de France victory among them.

“The WA Government’s recent announcement that cyclists will soon be allowed to ride on footpaths is an indication of the sport’s popularity in that state, but also hints that the growing number of cyclists sharing the roads with motorists is becoming a problem. In fact, many Australian cities are working to accommodate increased bicycle traffic on their roads, introducing designated cycle lanes and tougher penalties for ‘car-dooring’ in an attempt to adapt to evolving traffic trends.

“Meanwhile, the MAMIL (middle-aged men in lycra) phenomenon shows no sign of abating. With low impact on joints and a strong social aspect (they often travel in packs!), cycling’s appeal for this demographic is undeniable.

“Interestingly, cycling is one of the few sports in which participation comes close to TV viewing incidence (especially compared with something like Aussie Rules football, for example). One in five Australians watch cycling on television (up from 8% in 2005), almost identical to the proportion who participate in the sport — good news for SBS, which is currently broadcasting the Giro d’Italia and gearing up for the Tour de France…”

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Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%