We Ride Australia

Parliamentary Friends of Cycling

Parliamentarians standing up for cycling - a platform for progress

We Ride Australia established a Parliamentary Friends of Cycling group in late 2020.

It was the culmination of more than a decade of federal advocacy by We Ride. The Friendship group marks a coming of age for bicycle riding in federal Parliamentary circles.

Stephen Hodge with Dave Sharma, the federal Member for Wentworth NSW

The opportunity to host and facilitate expert discussions on riding bicycles in Parliament House amongst federal Members and Senators from all parts of Australia is an important win for bicycle riding in this country.

The Friends of Cycling group provides a non-partisan federal forum for Parliamentarians to meet and interact with riding and active transport issues and benefits.

Stephen Hodge with Dr Helen Haines, the federal Member for Indi VIC

An initiative of We Ride Australia’s Stephen Hodge and Dave Sharma, the Member for Wentworth (Liberal), the group is Co-Chaired by Dave Sharma, the Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh, federal Member for Fenner (Labor) and Dr Helen Haines, the federal Member for Indi (independent).

Stephen Hodge with Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh, the federal Member for Fenner ACT

A further nineteen Parliamentarians signed up within hours to support the group’s establishment – see their names below.

At a time when bicycle riding is booming, as Australians re-discover the joys of two wheels for transport, staying active and healthy during the COVID pandemic, this group demonstrates our Parliamentarians are also clearly very interested in a greater engagement around the benefits of riding bicycles in this country.

The benefits of increased bicycle riding include better physical and mental health, improved community liveability, equitable and sustainable transport options and economic development opportunities in regional Australia through destination marketing and visitation built around bike facilities and trails.

We Ride Australia’s Stephen Hodge coordinates the group’s activities.

Above L-R: Dr Helen Haines MP, Hon. Kevin Andrews MP, Hon. Dr David Gillespie MP, Stephen Jones MP, Stephen Hodge, Susan Templeman MP, Dave Sharma MP, Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Julie Owens MP, Kristi McBain MP.

“I was delighted to get such a positive response to the idea from Dave Sharma when I approached him about championing bicycle riding in Parliament,” said Hodge.

“Andrew Leigh and Helen Haines also very quickly expressed their support and we were on our way,

“An email from Dr Leigh to the entire Parliament resulted in enough support from MPs and Senators within a couple of hours to set up the Friends and I think it showed we had really captured the moment for bike riding in Australia” Mr Hodge said.

Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government, the Hon. Mark Coulton MP with Stephen Hodge. Mr Coulton provided a Ministerial Key Note Address at the February Friends event on regional economic benefits of cycle tourism.

The Parliamentary Friends of Cycling is led by three Co-Chairs with support from across the political spectrum.

Participants in the Parliamentary Sports Festival cycling event, ‘Recognise’, on Red Hill, 2 December 2020. We Ride Australia organised the event with the strong support of the Parliamentary cycling group, Riders on the Hill. This group has been run by We Ride’s Stephen Hodge for the last 15 years.

“We’ve seen a massive increase in cycling during COVID-19, for both transport and recreation. As an enthusiastic rider myself, I’m keen for the Parliament to get behind this trend and do more to encourage people to lead active lifestyles,” Dave Sharma, the Member for Wentworth said.

Dave Sharma MP, Co-Chair Parliamentary Friends of Cycling

“From Mulga Bill to Anna Meares, cycling is intertwined with the Australian story. And no part of Australia loves cycling more than my home city of Canberra. From the 6am bunch ride to mountain biking with my kids, cycling is one of life’s true pleasures, and I’m keen to encourage its uptake nationwide” said Dr Andrew Leigh, the Member for Fenner.

Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Co-Chair Parliamentary Friends of Cycling

“Like lots of people, I have strong memories of learning to ride a bike. The thrill of finding my balance has lasted a lifetime. The Parliamentary Friends of Cycling is all about the love of cycling and the real benefits it can bring to people and to our environment when we leave the car in the shed and jump on the bike instead,” said the Member for Indi, Dr Helen Haines.

Dr Helen Haines MP, Co-Chair Parliamentary Friends of Cycling

“In regional areas like the one I represent, the economic benefits through cycle tourism are really important and will continue to contribute to our communities as we emerge and recover from the COVID lockdown,” said Dr Haines.

Gladys Liu MP with WeRide’s Stephen Hodge and Ben from Pushys test e-cargo bikes.

The first event for the Parliamentary Friends of Cycling was a showcase of the latest e-mobility trends. The latest electric-assist bicycles, family e-bikes and a range of utilitarian and freight bikes were showcased and available for test rides by Parliamentarians in the House event.

MPs attending the e-bike showcase event of the Parliamentary Friends of Cycling. From L-R Julie Owens MP, Dave Sharma MP, Senator David Van, Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Dr Helen Haines MP, Stephen Hodge, Hon. Mark Dreyfus QC MP.

The Co-Chairs work with Stephen to determine topics of interest to MPs and develop the program of events. All MPs and Senators in Parliament are invited to attend Friendship Group events and hear from subject experts and network with colleagues and invited guests. Parliamentary Friends of Cycling was launched in front of Parliament on Thursday, 8th October 2020.

Stephen Hodge, Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Dr Helen Haines MP, Dave Sharma MP launching the Friends of Cycling on 8 October 2020.

The second Parliamentary event was focused on the regional economic benefits of cycle tourism and Key Noted by Minister Mark Coulton and Shadow Attorney General Hon Mark Dreyfus QC. A well attended event saw MPs and Senators with an interest in regional rail trails and destination marketing and MTB parks join to hear the latest data from Rail Trails Australia and Tourism North East (VIC).

The Member for Whitlam, Stephen Jones MP, with We Ride’s Stephen Hodge. Stephen Jones is particularly interested in the regional economic impacts that will result from the UCI Road World Cycling Championships, which are being held in his hometown of Wollongong NSW in 2022.

Bert van Manen MP & Stephen Hodge

2021 events:

  • 16 February – Two Wheeled Tourism – transforming Australia’s regionsfact sheet
  • June – an event focusing on the national economic benefits of the boom in cycling during COVID
  • August – event theme to be determined
  • October – Ride to Work Day event – theme to be determined

2020 event: 3 December – e-bike showcase – fact sheet

The MPs and Senators who supported the establishment of Parliamentary Friends of Cycling are –

Hon Kevin Andrews MP Member for Menzies Vic Liberal
Dr Katie Allen MP Member for Higgins Vic Liberal
Hon Terri Butler MP Member for Griffith Qld Labor
Mr Milton Dick MP Member for Oxley Qld Labor
Hon Mark Dreyfus MP Member for Isaacs Vic Labor
Hon Dr David Gillespie MP Member for Lyne NSW National
Mr Luke Gosling OAM MP Member for Solomon NT Labor
Dr Helen Haines MP Member for Indi VIC Independent
Ms Madeline King MP Member for Brand WA Labor
Mr Andrew Laming MP Member for Bowman Qld LNP
Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP Member for Fenner ACT Labor
Ms Gladys Liu MP Member for Chisolm Vic Liberal
Dr Fiona Martin MP Member for Reid NSW Liberal
Ms Julie Owens MP Member for Parramatta NSW Labour
Senator Janet Rice Senator for Victoria Vic Greens
Hon Scott Ryan MP Senator for Victoria Vic Liberal
Ms Rebekah Sharkie MP Member for Mayo SA Centre Alliance
Mr Dave Sharma MP Member for Wentworth NSW Liberal
Hon Warren Snowden MP Member for Lingiari NT Labor
Hon Angus Taylor MP Member for Hume NSW Liberal
Senator David Van Senator for Victoria Vic Liberal
Mr Bert van Manen MP Member for Forde Qld LNP
Mr Ross Vasta MP Member for Bonner Qld LNP
Mr Andrew Wallace MP Member for Fisher Qld Liberal
Mr Tim Watts MP Member for Gelibrand Vic Labor
Mr Josh Wilson MP Member for Fremantle WA Labor