NSW has the lowest rates of cycling in the country, according to what is believed to be the most thorough survey of its kind.
The Australian Bicycle Council survey found in a typical week around 18 per cent of Australians ride a bike, with about 3.6 million riding for leisure or sport while 1.2 million people make at least one transport journey.
Almost 10,000 households were surveyed in the study, which found cycling rates were well above average in the Northern Territory, ACT and Western Australia while those in NSW were the lowest, with just 8.7 per cent of the adult population having ridden in the previous week.
In the Northern Territory, the figure was almost twice as high at 16.5 per cent while in Tasmania 10.8 per cent of adults rode in the previous week.
Children were far more likely to ride, with nearly two-thirds of five to nine-year-olds riding a bike in a typical week, but that figure fell to just 9 per cent when talking to people aged 40 and over.
Cycling for transport rates were especially low in NSW, with just 3.6 per cent of residents using bikes for transport compared with 5.9 per cent in Tasmania, 6.6 per cent in Victoria and 11 per cent in the Northern Territory.
The chief executive of Bicycle NSW, Omar Khalifa, called the figures ''horrendous'' and said the state government was mainly to blame for not funding bike paths.
"It is disappointing that our use of cycling for transport is nearly half of that of other states and territories,'' he said.
''Even Tasmania, with the additional challenges of more extreme weather and terrain, nearly doubles the NSW cycling rate. We have a lot of catching up to do."
He said NSW needed ''a properly funded state-wide effort to integrate cycling as a mainstream mode of travel''.
Men and boys are more likely to ride than women and girls, with 22 per cent of males and 13 per cent of females riding in a typical week, and people in regions were more likely to cycle than in big urban areas.
The survey was funded by all state and territory road authorities as part of the National Cycling Strategy, which aims to double the number of bike riders in the next five years.