With increasing traffic congestion in the urban centres around the world, more people are taking to two wheelers to combat this issue. In 2008 1.2 million bicycles were sold Australia wide. 2008 was the ninth consecutive year in Australia where bicycle sales have exceeded motor vehicle sales (ABC, 2008-2009). Similarly motorcycle sales were at a record high in 2008 with a total of 134,112 motorcycles, scooters and all terrain vehicles sold (FCAI, 2009). In comparison about 1 million cars, buses and trucks were sold.
Two wheelers have a significant role in reducing road congestion as they offer flexibility, low cost of transport, minimum green house gas emissions and reduced wear and tear of roads. (Motorcycling Australia, 2011)
Over the past decade there has been a steady increase in the number of motorcycle riders and pedal cyclists, making their safety a high priority for government transport agencies.
International research indicates that, per hour of travel, motorcycle riders are 20 times more likely to be killed in a crash than vehicle occupants (RTA, 2010). The number of motorcycles registered in NSW has increased by 39% in a 5 year time period (2004-2008) from 105,000 to 147,000 in June 2008. Over the same time period the number of motorcycle crashes has increased by 17% (MCCNSW, 2010).
The Australian Bicycle Council has collected data from the top five urban commuter routes in each capital city and has found that there was a 48% increase in urban commuter cycling between 2005 and 2008. In the same period recreational cycling grew by 21%. (ABC, 2008-2009). Recreational cycling is now the fourth most popular activity after walking, aerobics/fitness and swimming. (ATSB, 2006)
The availability of transportation by roads is critical to the economy of a country as it facilitates the movement of goods and people. But the increase in road transportation places a significant burden on people’s health due to traffic accidents and reduction in physical activity.
According to the World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease Project for 2004, there are over 1.2 million road related deaths every year and between 20 and 50 million non fatal injuries around the world. Almost half of those who die in road accidents are “vulnerable road users” i.e. pedestrians, cyclists and motorized two wheelers. This percentage is much lower in high income countries. (World Health Organisation, 2009)
Road traffic related injuries place a significant burden on health care services in terms of financial resources, bed occupancy and demand on health care professionals. In 2010, the social cost of road crashes was estimated to be $27 billion (Australian Transport Council, 2010). The flow on effect from road crashes, fatalities and injuries impose a huge financial cost on the economy.