By Susan Hely
Money magazine, December edition
Susan Hely gets on her bike
I bought my husband a bicycle for Christmas a few years back. It was a gamble as he had never ridden a bike before. He taught himself in the park and in a year or two he was riding fairly regularly. He joined a cycle squad and bought me a bike for my birthday.
The kids had bikes and often our holidays were about riding, particularly on quiet country roads and rail trails that are recycled from abandoned train corridors. Having bikes keeps us bike fit.
With Christmas approaching consider a bike or cycling accessories for presents or a cycling holiday. About 4 million Australians own a bicycle and 1.6 million use it for transport. It makes sense to ride a bike if you live close to work – apparently 1.3 million Australians make car journeys to work that are less than five kilometres. But you need safe cycleways to feel confident about riding.
With Australians typically spending 16% of their total household income on transport, using a bike is going to be much cheaper than owning a car. The Cycling Promotion Fund estimates swapping one car for a bike can save a family around $10,000 a year.
You don’t need to spend too much to get started. Your costs include the bike, helmet, good safety lock, bike light for night riding and bike insurance (see breakout) and a bell. There are plenty of secondhand bikes on bike websites.
Check out bikeexchange.com.au, the e-commerce brainchild of two young entrepreneurs, Jason Wyatt and Sam Salter, who recently won 2012 Telstra Australian Business of the Year. It has attracted over 40 million searches this year and had 47,735 bikes and accessories for sale across Australia, including goods from 350 bike retailers at the time of writing. Sales of bikes and accessories were around $1 billion last year, according to the Bicycle Industries Association.
You can keep your costs down by enrolling in a maintenance course so you can service your own bike rather than paying a shop. Some local councils run free bike maintenance workshops.
Don’t forget insurance
In case you cause an accident when riding or are hurt in a bike crash, it’s a good idea to take out insurance. Even if you consider yourself a failsafe rider, family bike insurance will cover the costs if your less experienced kids trigger an accident.
Bicycle insurance is included in
the annual membership cost of organisations such as Bicycle NSW (www.bicyclensw.org.au) and other equivalent state-based bodies.
You can be insured for public liability, covering injuries or damages you cause. You can also buy cover for:
• Personal accident insurance to cover loss of income if you can’t work after an accident, and non-Medicare medical expenses.
• Insurance against theft, loss or damage. Check with your insurer if you are covered by home and contents insurance, and if not, ask about adding a bicycle.
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