Sustrans’ Bike Life 2017, the UK’s biggest assessment of cycling in cities, reveals four in five people (78%) want more protected bike routes built to make cycling safer, even when this could mean less space for other road traffic.
The Bike Life study is run every two years by cycling and walking charity Sustrans and seven major cities: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester and Newcastle. Inspired by the Copenhagen Bicycle Account, it looks at progress across infrastructure, travel habits, public attitudes and the impact of cycling more widely.
Bike Life shows that most people living in these cities think cycling is a good thing. Out of the thousands of residents interviewed, sixty four per cent said they would cycle more if on-road cycle routes physically separated from traffic and pedestrians were available. And over two-thirds think their city would be a better place to live and work if more people cycled.
Cycling to work
The study also found that just over half of households own at least one adult bike but only six per cent of people cycle to and from work. There is huge potential for this number to increase.
Sound Engineer Steve Castle lives in Cardiff and is among those who do commute by bike. “I cycle to work and back every day, come wind, rain, shine and all the other in between,” said Steve.
“Cycling could be better by being more inclusive – everybody should be able to ride, not just those like me who have become less sensitive to the dangers.
“I want to be treated as an equal to other forms of transport on the road. At the same time I am well aware that if it wasn’t for the safety net of both the traffic free Cardiff Bay Barrage and Taff Trail I would never have started in the first place,” he said.
Like Steve, over three-quarters of people surveyed think safety needs to be improved for cycling in their city.
“Maybe in a generation or so, when we have dedicated space for cyclists, we’ll look back and wonder why so few cyclists chose to cycle. I hope so,” he adds.
The impact of residents riding bikes
People understand and support the substantial benefits that more cycling brings for congestion, health, air quality and the economy.
- People cycling in the seven cities take up to 111,564 cars off our roads each day. If these cars were all in a traffic jam it would tail back 333 miles, a distance greater than from Cardiff to Newcastle.
- Cycling averts serious long term health conditions saving the NHS in the seven cities £8 million each year, equivalent to the average salaries of 343 nurses.
It is little surprise that three-quarters of residents interviewed for Bike Life would like to see more money spent on cycling in their city.
Sustrans is calling on governments at all levels to work together to meet people’s needs and invest in segregated routes that make cycling for everyday journeys safe, convenient and attractive.
Read the full Bike Life reports for the seven cities
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