Mark Cull of team Gympie cycling group.
Mark Cull of team Gympie cycling group. Renee Pilcher

Close calls common among riders

A FEAR of aggressive motorists is keeping some Gympie cyclists from embracing their love of the sport, a study has found.

Cycling was voted the fourth most popular leisure sport in Australia and would be more widely taken up if the roads were safer.

The study, commissioned by the official partner of the Tour de France, Le Coq Sportif, found nearly half of those surveyed would like to ride a bike to work but do not because drivers are too aggressive.

Gympie cyclist Mark Cull is a member of Team Gympie, a local social riding group that undertakes 40-140km rides, mainly on weekends.

He said his group generally found most fellow road users were happy to share the road, but every rider had experienced at least one close encounter with a car or truck.

"Driver attitude has improved and as a cycling group we try and spread the love by riding in single file as much as possible and wave to all approaching traffic," Mr Cull said.

Team Gympie meets for its weekend rides at the Gympie Memorial Pool early in the morning for two reasons, says cyclist Mark Cull.

"To get the ride completed so we can enjoy a great coffee but mostly to beat and avoid most of the traffic on our somewhat-narrow roads.

"The wave of love (to oncoming vehicles) at least tells the driver that we know they are there and tends to dissipate negative energy towards the riders."

Mr Cull said he and his teammates all drove cars as well and were well aware of the need to share the road and had patience for safety's sake.

"We as a group have all had a close call with trucks and cars," he said.

"We all need to share the road and have patience.

"Our group of riders ride for different reasons.

"Some are training for triathlons, others for bike races and events. Mostly we all do it as a very social way of keeping fit and having fun."

Of the people surveyed by Le Coq Sportif, one in five said they did not ride because they were worried they would get sweaty and ruin their make-up.

Twelve per cent were concerned their hair would look too messy after being jammed under a helmet.

More than half said they always wore a helmet and believed it to be a safety must.

Mountain bikes proved to be the number one choice of bike for Australians (42%), followed by vintage and fixed-up bikes (18%) and performance bikes (17%).

Men were twice as likely (29%) as women (15%) to enjoy cycling as a leisure activity.

New South Wales residents were the biggest cycling fans with 28% cycling once a fortnight or more, followed by Victoria (27%) and South Australia (23%).

Women (23%) were three times more likely than men (8%) to be turned off by the opposite sex wearing lycra.

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