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Research from Eurostat also finds UK citizens most likely to believe congestion will worsen on urban roads

Research published by the official statistics agency of the European Union (EU), Eurostat, shows that the UK has the equal third lowest levels of daily cycling among the 28 member states, on a par with Luxembourg and Spain at 4 per cent and with only Cyprus and Malta scoring lower.

A further 10 per cent of people in the UK said they cycle a few times a week and 17 per cent a few times a month or less often, while the proportion that said they never cycle was joint sixth-highest, at 69 per cent.

The Netherlands had the highest levels people agreeing they cycle daily or a few times a week – respectively, 43 per cent and 28 per cent.

But while Denmark ranked second highest for getting on their bikes each day, at 30 per cent, once that figure was added to the one for riding a few times a week, they were edged into third spot by Finland.

The findings are contained in a special Eurobarometer report called Attitudes of Europeans Towards Urban Mobility, published in December 2013, which also found that UK citizens are by far the most pessimistic in Europe about urban traffic congestion in the future.

The survey was based on a sample of 27,680 people throughout the 28 member states – 1,314 of them in the UK – who were interviewed by TNS Opinion & Social face to face in their homes in May and June 2013.

Kevin Mayne, who spent 14 years as chief executive of national cyclists’ organisation CTC before moving to the European Cyclists’ Federation in early 2012 as development director, said that the figures showed the UK was losing further ground on its fellow European member states when it comes to cycling.

He told Local Transport Today: “In 2010 Eurobarometer asked a similar question about mode of transport and the UK was 21st in the cycling table, so these latest figures can be interpreted as a relative drop.

“EU data shows that strengths in sport and leisure cycling do not translate to daily cycling anywhere in the EU but the lack of growth in UK daily cycling is especially noticeable,” he added.

Source: TNS Opinion & Social/Eurostat

Respondents were also asked which measures could be implemented to improve travel within cities.

UK residents’ levels of agreement were in line with the EU average on issues such as “improved cycling facilities” (UK 32 per cent vs EU average 33 per cent), “improved walking facilities” (26 per cent vs 27 per cent) and “lower speed limits” (16 per cent).

One issue of major concern to cycling campaigners saw UK response levels well below the average across all 27 member states, however – “access restrictions for certain types of vehicles eg trucks” gained support from 19 per cent to UK respondents, against an EU average of 27 per cent.

Agreement for that statement was highest in the Czech Republic, at 51 per cent, and lowest in Finland, with 13 per cent.

Survey participants were quizzed on how effective they thought such measures might be, and while two in three people in the UK did agree that they would be “very effective” (19 per cent) or “fairly effective” (47 per cent), the combined figure put the UK higher than only Sweden, Germany, Spain and Finland.

Only in areas concerned with public transport did levels of support from UK citizens score higher than the EU average. Those were “lower prices for public transport” (68 per cent vs 59 per cent) and “better public transport” (66 per cent vs 56 per cent).

People in the UK were the most pessimistic across the entire EU about what will happen to traffic in urban areas in the future.

Some 61 per cent of respondents from this country stated that the traffic situation in cities will get worse, and 19 per cent that it will stay the same, against EU average scores of 37 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

23 comments

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bikerdavecycling [73 posts] 2 years ago
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300 people work where I do. Mine is usually the only bike in the bike racks. Tells you lot.

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AWPeleton [3277 posts] 2 years ago
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We have a bike rack that holds approx 50 bikes and its always full and there are always bikes at the rear of the building as well as people cant get them in the rack.

Our problem is there are only 3 showers in the building  20

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Wolfshade [185 posts] 2 years ago
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What are these bike racks?
There are a pair of metal hoops in the ground, but they are only uncovered once a year when the gardners come in prune them back. Not that they are accessible via the road without dismounting.

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mrmo [2067 posts] 2 years ago
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the office I am in has couple of hundred people I am the only one who cycles, where I worked previously again a hundred or so and two people cycled.

Most telling to me, Finland, can anyone honestly tell me the Finish weather is more conducive to cycling than the UK weather!

Also quite telling, Public transport should be cheaper, Buses and trains in the UK are extortionately priced, hardly surprising that people call for lower prices. It is a few years since I last went to Switzerland, but the trains were cheaper and more reliable in what is a horrifically expensive country. So what is the UK's excuse?

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kitkat [344 posts] 2 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

Most telling to me, Finland, can anyone honestly tell me the Finish weather is more conducive to cycling than the UK weather!

Ride in the summer, ski in the winter, simple!

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caaad10 [184 posts] 2 years ago
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This is also quite possibly related to over zealous actions of UK police, such as the current Essex news story, sending out the wrong message - I don't want to get stopped by the police if I'm doing nothing wrong, it just sends out a negative message to law abiding cyclists out enjoying a pleasant ride - it's not surprising people don't want to take up the activity......

And there are the things like the Jeremy Vine "punch & Judy" show, which often has cyclists vs xyz as a subject. Ding dong round one, gloves are off lets do another bit of cyclist bashing.

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AWPeleton [3277 posts] 2 years ago
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Unless its printed in a cycling forum i think the vast majority of people will never hear of or be aware of Police operations such as the one in Essex, its just not interesting enough to put on local or national news so i cant see that having any effect at all on the numbers of people cycling.

To be honest i think a lot of it has to do with the sheer cost of starting to cycle or the publics perception of how much it costs.

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mrmo [2067 posts] 2 years ago
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stumps wrote:

To be honest i think a lot of it has to do with the sheer cost of starting to cycle or the publics perception of how much it costs.

Maybe, I would also add, laziness, and some kind of weird status symbol thing. A car is not seen as a tool but as a way of advertising success.

I also think media matters, the media publish, and I mean the mainstream media, when lots of cyclists get killed. Even well meaning campaigns such as the Times, give an idea that it is dangerous. You have Twitter and Facebook where people post anti cycling statements, none of that makes non-cyclists want to go out and ride.

I think everyone knows cars have accidents but there experience is that it isn't very often, they hear lots of stories about cyclists being hurt but don't have a frame of reference to weigh against.

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arfa [731 posts] 2 years ago
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Approximately 1k surveyed in each country is not a major data set in my opinion. Yes I know this is the level ipsos/mori target to start to get "statistically significant" results but there will be big differences regionally (eg urban/rural) and demographically (eg commuters where savings are more marked).
Bottom line is we are one of the fattest & most indolent nations in the EU anyway and major social change in attitudes are required. Funny that we are the most pessimistic on urban travel when we persist with the primacy of the car....
Can't see anything changing until we get serious about pollution/inactivity/obesity/health though.

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gazza_d [459 posts] 2 years ago
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Most people who would, won't cycle as they don't think it's safe.

All they see from their car windows are roads which are gridlocked or racetracks with everyone rushing to be first to the back of the next queue.

UK needs cycling infra which is safe, more convenient than a car, and visible (so people know alternatives are there) before we will get any significant boost in numbers rising bikes.

For a lot of the UK this may not take a lot. From my home I can get to my three large local superstores, local shopping areas and the town centre on either traffic free or very lightly trafficed routes. The problem is that some of the links are technically illegal. There is no connectivity or even signing. I found all the routes from looking at Google Maps etc, because I was keen enough too.

This absolutely has to change.

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congokid [262 posts] 2 years ago
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stumps wrote:

Unless its printed in a cycling forum i think the vast majority of people will never hear of or be aware of Police operations such as the one in Essex, its just not interesting enough to put on local or national news so i cant see that having any effect at all on the numbers of people cycling.

Somehow I don't see the general public visiting cycling forums to read about police operations related to cycling.

They're more likely to read about it in their local paper - it's the sort of thing many papers with an anti-cycling agenda love to print, especially if they can show cyclists breaking the law.

The main effect of these police operations is on the few people who do cycle in a given area. If they feel they're being constantly targeted and stopped by the police, especially when they're not doing anything wrong, such as not wearing a helmet, they're more likely to switch to a hassle free mode of transport.

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workhard [397 posts] 2 years ago
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stumps wrote:

We have a bike rack that holds approx 50 bikes and its always full and there are always bikes at the rear of the building as well as people cant get them in the rack.

Our problem is there are only 3 showers in the building  20

Do people who walk to work need to shower when they arrive?
If people ran to work would they need to bathe and change?
Do we think the cycle commuters of Europe, noticeably lycra shunning and helmet-less, need to swab themselves down when they reach their destination?

The problem with many UK commuters is they don't know how to ride slow.

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Guyz2010 [304 posts] 2 years ago
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Airzound - I think you need some pep up pills, you sounds depressed. How about going for a cycle ride!

Really its not that bad, I do about 5K miles per year with no real hassle from drivers in Devon.

I think our wet weather doesn't help people get out but the biggest thing is cycling is percieved as being dangerous despite actually being low risk if you take the right precautions. The roads surface quality leaves a lot to be desired. Some how English road builders ought to take lesson from the French on how to lay Asphalt. The French do it bowler smooth whereas Messers Hanson & Lafarge only seem to cock it up.

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Mr Agreeable [169 posts] 2 years ago
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stumps wrote:

Our problem is there are only 3 showers in the building  20

Of course, Holland and Denmark achieved their current levels of cycling by providing everyone who cycles with showers. Right?

http://bamboobadger.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/red-herring-in-shower.html

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Simon_MacMichael [2448 posts] 2 years ago
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Guyz2010 wrote:

Some how English road builders ought to take lesson from the French on how to lay Asphalt. The French do it bowler smooth whereas Messers Hanson & Lafarge only seem to cock it up.

Shouldn't be too difficult for Lafarge (UK) to get some tips, given they're 50 per cent owned by Lafarge (France).

 3

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seven [147 posts] 2 years ago
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The falsely inflated perception of danger is a pathetic joke in the UK and I think it's the biggest challenge we face. If that particular nut can be cracked then the floodgates will open.

A workmate recently started cycling (good for him!) but he's kinda blown it out of all proportion on the perceived risks front. It's quite a delicate balancing act trying to educate on the actual risks whilst at the same time not appearing dismissive and thus alienating him from reaching a more reasoned PoV.

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KiwiMike [1171 posts] 2 years ago
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{NEED SHOWERS TO CYCLE KLAXON}

{UK IS TOO COLD/WET/HILLY TO CYCLE KLAXON}

{DISMISSING PERCIEVED SAFETY CONCERNS KLAXON}

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mrfree [75 posts] 2 years ago
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You have a bike rack?

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vbvb [577 posts] 2 years ago
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Not a surprising set of results given the UK's political landscape which isn't big on "common good" compared to these other countries.

One big gain we could make in the UK would be to challenge and defeat the speed-cameras-only-after-deaths consensus. Getting those 20mph zones enforced would change the feel of local urban cycling for many people I think.

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mrfree [75 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

The falsely inflated perception of danger is a pathetic joke in the UK and I think it's the biggest challenge we face. If that particular nut can be cracked then the floodgates will open.

A workmate recently started cycling (good for him!) but he's kinda blown it out of all proportion on the perceived risks front. It's quite a delicate balancing act trying to educate on the actual risks whilst at the same time not appearing dismissive and thus alienating him from reaching a more reasoned PoV

I have cycled in 17 different countries in Europe, in many types of situations, and with the exception of only Poland, I believe cycling is more dangerous here than anywhere else I have been. It is a problem. The percentage of cyclist deaths/injuries is huge for the number of people cycling.
Only yesterday I spoke to a Chinese man that was a keen cyclist, had three bikes, but gave up cycling altogether when coming from a cycling city (Cambridge) to a non-cycling city (Glasgow) because it was (in his point of view) too dangerous.
Safety is a need. Most cyclists reading this I presume have gained it from experience alone. But for the first timer, it's not simply 'grow a pair'. There are more cars than ever before on today's roads. I learnt to cycle safely when there were few. How can we possibly expect people to make the jump from car to bike through busy traffic on the way to work without investing in either appropriate cycle training or a safe way to go?

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goggy [153 posts] 2 years ago
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London has seen a huge increase in people cycling in the past several years. The roads used to be clear and I could cycle away quite happily without having to look out for other cyclists. Now, in the 3 hours of rush hour each way, whenever I do the commute, it's packed. Admittedly this is along the Cycle Superhighway routes, but it is significant.

The good new sis that I see motorist behaviour changing (probably because they are intimidated/scared of hitting cyclists when they are in both mirrors all the time (except WVM of course)

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Skylark [149 posts] 2 years ago
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Whilst Brit riders have all ganged up in the peloton.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1173 posts] 2 years ago
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stumps wrote:

Unless its printed in a cycling forum i think the vast majority of people will never hear of or be aware of Police operations such as the one in Essex, its just not interesting enough to put on local or national news so i cant see that having any effect at all on the numbers of people cycling.

To be honest i think a lot of it has to do with the sheer cost of starting to cycle or the publics perception of how much it costs.

I don't know about Essex, but I certainly heard about the 'safeway' one in London from multiple sources. These things very, very clearly tie in to a general panic about the 'dangers of cycling', not to mention, crucially, the way it seems to get sold that its all about careless cyclists.
It doesn't need every one to be on the national news, just each local one to be on the relevant local news. Plus London is a nation in its own right!

I don't think its about cost. One reason I started was because I just couldn't justify the outrageous cost of public transport any more.

Nobody I know cycles and they all give the simple reason that they think its too dangerous. Its odd how people seem to hold simultaneously the contradictory notions that the danger is all down to the bad behaviour of the cyclists, yet that if _they_ started cycling it would be dangerous even if they didn't misbehave.