HomeFeaturesOpinionWelcome to 2022! Here’s Why I’m Still Optimistic…

Welcome to 2022! Here’s Why I’m Still Optimistic…

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Wollongong, NSW

Welcome to this brand new year called 2022.

I hope you were able to have at least some holiday time over the New Year period. I’ve just returned from three weeks of travelling through the back roads of NSW and Victoria.

Holidays are always a good time to learn, reflect and set yourself up for a successful year ahead, even when you’re not directly thinking about your business. In fact, not being buried in the day-to-day gives you a unique chance to look at things with a fresh perspective.

Despite the incessant and at times near hysterical doom and gloom from our mainstream media, I remain optimistic, both for our own industry and more generally.

“It seems that a lot of those half million extra bikes purchased last year were being ridden these holidays.”

Related to our industry specifically, to justify my optimism, here are two of the most unscientific, non-statistically valid pieces of evidence you’ll ever read. I picked these up during our holiday.

Firstly, I have never seen anywhere near as many bikes being carried on racks to all corners of Australia: road bikes on roof racks, mountain bikes being carried vertically on Shingleback style racks or hanging over the tailgates of utes, regular bikes for mum dad and the kids strapped, sometimes precariously, in trailer boats, onto the roofs of camper trailers or onto the backs of caravans.

Sure, you see this every holiday season but not to the sheer extent that I saw this summer. It seems that a lot of those half million extra bikes purchased last year were being ridden these holidays. A couple of bike industry colleagues have also told me that they noticed the same thing. One joked that we should create a ‘bikes on cars index’ to formalise and measure this phenomenon.

6am sunrise on the Murrumbidgee River levee bank trail at Wagga Wagga, NSW. Wagga is partway through a very large bike infrastructure construction program.
6am sunrise on the Murrumbidgee River levee bank trail at Wagga Wagga, NSW. Wagga is partway through a very large bike infrastructure construction program.

Secondly, as I’m in training for my 60 or Bust! Melbourne to Sydney charity ride this March, I was clocking up the kilometres these holidays. (Shameless plug: I’m raising funds for World Bicycle Relief and We Ride Australia, so please follow this link to make your tax-deductible donation.)

I rode everywhere from laps of the Mount Panorama motor racing circuit at Bathurst NSW (it’s steeper than it looks on TV!) to Melbourne’s famous Beach Road, to riding several different rail trails across NSW and Victoria and many backroads including some gravel. I was rarely the only cyclist and was often working overtime with nods and ‘half-hand-still-on-bars’ waves to oncoming riders.

At the top of the Mount Panorama circuit at Bathurst, NSW. At 170 metres of climbing per lap, after four laps I blew a gasket and retired.
At the top of the Mount Panorama circuit at Bathurst, NSW. At 170 metres of climbing per lap, after four laps I blew a gasket and retired.

Turning to the bigger picture, I deliberately also gave myself a ‘media holiday’ from daily news feeds, newspapers, TV and all the rest of the usual background noise. But now having returned to work, it’s important to be informed, particularly in relation to COVID and its impacts upon business and the broader economy.

Here’s a few thoughts that you’re welcome to disagree with.

Even though case numbers have clearly gone through the roof, death numbers remain relatively low, particularly as a proportion of cases.

Vaccines are working.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control), which is the US’s peak federal government health agency, recently released data showing that unvaccinated people are 17 times more likely to be hospitalised and 20 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people.

This led US President Biden to describe covid as a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’.

Sunrise the next day at Lake Albert, just south of Wagga Wagga.
Sunrise at Lake Albert, just south of Wagga Wagga.

Meanwhile, Pfizer has developed an antiviral pill called Paxlovid which will be prescribed by doctors as soon as possible when people get COVID (regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated or not). Pfizer has said Paxlovid showed near 90% efficacy in preventing hospitalisations and deaths in high-risk patients, and recent lab data suggests the drug retains its effectiveness against the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus. That will take a lot of pressure off our hospitals.

The big question will be how quickly this drug will be widely available in Australia. Hopefully, we haven’t stuffed up our pre-order this time around.

Overall, there is still a long way to go. There are absolutely no guarantees there won’t be more variants to come, in part because we’re still neglecting one of the most basic and, in the overall scale of things, cheapest things to do. That is to pay for the entire world’s population to be vaccinated, not just the citizens of wealthy countries. Then we’ll have more chance of containing the next Omicron in its country of origin, or at least delaying its spread while the new variant is analysed and vaccines developed.

“…you could say that we’re bringing the band back together, this time not just acoustic, but also electric.”

Finishing on a personal note, this will be a big year for our team upon whom I totally rely: Linda Brown, Ed Price, Scott Green and John Hardwick, and the services we bring to you.

We’re launching a new ‘self-serve’ cloud-based updating system for our popular Yearbook, which will hopefully make the 2022 Latz Report Yearbook more comprehensive and accurate than ever. Look out for your copy in the mail on or around 19th April.

We’re doubling the frequency of both The Latz Report and Micromobility Report newsletters from once to twice per month so that you get the latest news sooner.

We’re launching the Micromobility Conference and Expo, in collaboration with Interpoint Events. For those of you who have been around long enough to remember our old Bicycling Australia Show, you could say that we’re bringing the band back together, this time not just acoustic but also electric.

Please save the dates: 25th-26th November, Royal Randwick Racecourse, Sydney. We’d love to see you there!

Phil Latz

Publisher


To our wholesaler and manufacturer readers, please watch out for an email early next week with instructions on how to log into your new online account, to update your YearBook listing for 2022.

The new online portal for wholesalers and manufacturers to update their YearBook listing will be released next week.

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