This a great film to watch.
The Pedal Project: Three Cycling Cities – From Dublin to London to Amsterdam from DCTV on Vimeo.
Ciaran Fallon is the Cycling Officer for Dublin City Council. He took a trip to London and Amsterdam to see what those two cities' authorities do to encourage cycling. It is well worth watching to see the sorts of things that work and what doesn't work.
Watch especially the interview with Marc Woudenberg who runs the Amsterdamize website.
The final message at the end is unsurprising and is one we have heard time and time again: It's the infrastructure. Marc makes the point that you cannot increase the cycling modal share by simply saying "it's green". He also says emphasising safety gear is also not an effective way of encouraging people to choose a different way of getting around. All that does is tell people that it is dangerous and discourages them.
Look at the different types of people cycling in Amsterdam (and indeed London) and compare that with what you see in Adelaide. Our levels of cycling are clearly slowly increasing but in the main, we are mostly blokes, many of whom are in lycra or plastic flourescent jackets. I am beginning to see more young women on normal bikes (like those at the Classic Bicycle Shop) dressed in normal clothes but they are a tiny trickle. You still seldom see school children getting themselves to school, or riding with their parents, you seldom see parents carrying children on bikes to childcare and you rarely see pensioners cycling to the shops with their basket on their bike.
To encourage genuinely decent numbers, you have to install the infrastructure. That means making the difficult political decision of reclaiming some of the massive amounts of road space back from cars (look at the width of some city streets all devoted to motor vehicles).
Cycling should be as normal as driving is at the moment. It is not a specialist activity requiring special gear. People jump in their cars in their normal clothes to go shopping, visit friends, go to uni and so on. It should be exactly the same on a bike if that is what people choose, and given how much more pleasant our city would be, we should be doing all we can to encourage it.