Lismore resident Aaron Alexander no longer owns a bike but instead rides a bike and is seen here leaving the garage where he had pumped up his tyres.
Lismore resident Aaron Alexander no longer owns a bike but instead rides a bike and is seen here leaving the garage where he had pumped up his tyres. Northern Star/Jacklyn Wagner

Bicycle sales overtake cars

PUSHBIKE sales are on the rise as the nation's hip pocket is pinched by the economic slowdown, and Lismore's Aaron Alexander is not surprised.

Data released this week by the Cycling Promotion Fund revealed consumers bought more bicycles than cars in 2008.

“I've had this latest bike for eight months and I haven't spent anything on maintenance,” Mr Alexander said. “Back when I owned a car, I calculated it cost me $100 a week for maintenance and petrol. With a bike there is no registration, and the only extras are new tubes, tyres and a bit of WD40.

“There is the time factor too,” Mr Alexander, a former horse trainer under Bart Cummings in Sydney, said. “To travel around Lismore it is quicker than in a car.”

Tim Davis, of Harris Cycles in Lismore, was not surprised by the news bicycle sales were up.

“As of Easter last year we've been flat out,” he said. “2008 was our best year for new sales and for repairs. A lot of people are bringing out their old bikes to get fixed.”

Mr Davis said there were several reasons why people were gearing up for pedal power. Sports enthusiasts preferred quality road bikes and joined like-minded people for social exercise, he said.

Mr Davis said there were several groups in the area, particularly in Ballina and Alstonville, which regularly attracted between 15 and 30 riders.

Some of the more adventurous joined forces to ride mountain bikes, with keen riders around Uralba heading to the hills for regular off-track work.

However, most people are interested in the townie touring bike, a simple type of mountain bike suitable for riding around the streets, picking up groceries.

Mr Alexander does all his shopping by bike, with enough food for two or three days slung over his handlebars.

“One thing Lismore needs is a decent network of bicycle trails around the city,” Mr Davis said.

“Wade Park is fine for little kids, but there's nothing for families. A lengthy bike trail along the river, for instance, would be terrific for cyclists.”

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