Cycling contributes $6.3 billion a year to the Australian economy

Roughly 1.7 million bikes were bought in Australia in 2020.

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Among the few positives to have come out of the COVID pandemic is a notable rise in the number of people riding bikes. With gyms, swimming pools, and other health facilities often closed over the past 18 months, many Australians have turned to cycling for their fitness and social needs.

Now, a report by We Ride Australia and Ernst & Young (EY) has sought to understand just how big cycling has become in Australia, by estimating cycling’s contribution to the Australian economy.

The report, released today, suggests that in 2020 cycling contributed some $6.3 billion to the Australian economy. That figure counts “economic activity directly generated by bike riders, organisations, local and state government provision of infrastructure to events, research, and sport and recreational cycling.” 

Meanwhile, cycling’s “direct value add” to Australia’s GDP was estimated at $3.4 billion. That’s more than three times the contribution made by the Australian motor sport industry, and on par with the contribution made by the Australian thoroughbred industry.

To create its report, EY surveyed 1,200 Australians in August this year, to find out how much those individuals spent on cycling in 2020. Extrapolating from the findings of their survey, EY and We Ride Australia suggest that:

  • Roughly 1.7 million bikes were purchased in 2020, worth approximately $1.5 billion. That’s roughly 500,000 more bikes than were bought the year prior.
  • Roughly one in three Australian adults (29%) spent money on cycling goods and/or services in 2020.
  • While the national average was 29%, Victoria (34%) and the ACT (43%) had a higher percentage of adults spending money on cycling.
  • The average spend on cycling goods and/or services in 2020 was $900 (for those who spent money).
  • Spending on cycle tourism and services was worth $1.17 billion in 2020.
  • Exercise/fitness was the most common reason people rode bikes (82% of people).
  • A good percentage rode for transport, either to work, school, or the shops (42%).
  • Cycling directly supports more than 34,000 jobs in Australia.

EY and We Ride note that while their report considers the economic impact of cycling, that’s only part of what cycling has to offer.

“Whilst this study focuses on the economic contribution of the industry, it is recognised that the physical activity benefits of cycling participation support broader health and wellbeing, social and productivity benefits to the Australian economy,” the report reads. “Cycling as a mode of transport can also benefit local communities through reducing road congestion and providing a sustainable transport option.

“Estimates included in this study do not include quantification of these important broader benefits. There is potential that these benefits are material and the cycling industry would benefit from their quantification within the scope of future studies.”

We Ride Australia is an independent national cycling advocacy body whose mission is “to build a healthy, sustainable future through advocacy, program development and research around the bicycle’s role in environment, health, infrastructure and safety.” The organisation is keen to use the findings of this report as a springboard for further growth and development.

“With 4.62 million Australians riding a bike in a typical week and 10.19 million riding in the last year, the numbers of Australians choosing to ride a bicycle is a massive opportunity we can build on,” said Stephen Hodge, We Ride’s director of national advocacy.

“It was particularly pleasing to observe that the data highlighted that 28% of bicycles were purchased for children. Let’s invest to allow them to develop healthy, active habits for their future health and wellbeing!”

Follow the link to read the full report from EY and We Ride Australia.