No medals for pedals in Sydney

Sydney - A temperate climate, no steep hills and few rainy days: despite ideal cycling conditions, residents of Sydney have an aversion to bicycles.

On a per capita basis, twice as many people in Melbourne cycle to work and four times as many in Canberra.

Sydney seems wilfully against pedal-power despite recent research showing that chronic congestion means cycling is usually quicker than the car, the bus or the train.

Christian Wolmar, a London-based transport planner, was invited to Sydney in August to analyse the city's cycling problems.

"There seems to be an almost overt hostility to cyclists not only from many motorists, but more importantly from the planners and highway engineers who create the street environment," he said.

London, where the weather is far from ideal for cycling, boasts of doubling the number of cycle commuters in the past five years. There's been a concomitant rise in Melbourne too.

But in Sydney, Australia 's biggest city, less than 11,000 workers say they take the bike to work. How come Londoners have embraced cycling and Sydneysiders haven't?

"It's a combination of factors, ranging from overcrowding on public transport to the imposition of the congestion charge," Wolmar said, "but undoubtedly the initial trigger was a pro-cycling attitude from local authorities who in the past had been negative or even hostile to cycling, as are some politicians in Australia." (dpa)

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