Tour de France inspires Britons to get on their bikes, says Sustrans

Charity says a quarter of people surveyed will ride more or take up cycling after Grand Départ

by Simon_MacMichael   July 28, 2014  

TdF 2014 Stage 2 crowds in Yorkshire - picture credit Welcome to Yorkshire, Le Tour Yorkshire com

A survey from Sustrans claims that this month’s Grand Départ of the Tour de France has inspired a quarter of the British population to ride a bike more often or take to one for the first time.

Millions of people lined the roadside for the two stages in Yorkshire followed by one from Cambridge to London after the race got under way on Saturday 5 July, and the event also received a huge amount of media coverage.

A poll of 500 people conducted by the sustainable transport charity last Friday found that 24.6% of respondents had been inspired by the race’s visit to cycle more often, or to take up cycling, with the highest response by region in London, at 29.3 per cent.

Meanwhile, 30 per cent of those surveyed said that better cycling infrastructure was the single thing that would encourage them to get in the saddle more often.

Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of Sustrans, said: “What a show cycling has seen since the Tour de France hit Yorkshire just a few weeks ago. If the governments ‘cycling revolution’ is to go ahead they must be quick to capitalise on this public passion to reap the benefits in health, congestion and the economy to be had with higher levels of public cycling.”

He added: “These public spectacles have been good for the soul of the nation, but the government must now act to meet this enthusiasm and demand for safer cycling by committing to serious long term funding for safe cycling infrastructure and reducing speed limits to make our roads less hostile.”

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So, this was a survey of 500 people, online, conducted on Friday. I can't see any mention of it in terms of an invitation which makes me wonder how they selected their respondents. I also can't find any raw response data.

But then, why bother looking for it? These are meaningless figures. They tell us nothing: there's no analysis, just a summary of two presumably multiple-choice questions.

At best, they tell us that 30% of whoever these people are think that the stuff that Sustrans has been influencing the design of for decades, is the very stuff that is preventing them from cycling.

Perhaps that should be the takeaway message.

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [420 posts]
28th July 2014 - 11:15

62 Likes

Yebbut come first week in October when it's cold, wet and windy they will all have given up. Ha-ha.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [395 posts]
28th July 2014 - 11:19

44 Likes

This feels like one of those bogus beauty or cat food product surveys.

It does feel like there are more people getting about on bikes. Only a very few are using them as transport though.

Most seem to be strapping bikes to to roofracks so they could be ridden at the local park on a Sunday.

More people though cycling full stop is good, as it makes cycling slightly less of an out-group. I have noticed more consideration from drivers over the last few weeks. Fewer close passes, more letting me across junctions and crossing points. But I suspect more of that is down to the barrage of news and TV programmes about driving which is making more people think.

It'll all be crap when the dark nights come again

posted by gazza_d [235 posts]
28th July 2014 - 11:27

40 Likes

I will wait to see it, but I shan't be surprised if they drift away bit by bit, or - like some car drivers I know, who still manage not to arrive at work even when I have cycled through snowdrifts - with the first hint of bad weather they get off the bike and find another method of transport.

Its the can't make it to work thing that tells me car drivers are all namby pambys and bike riders are built of sterner stuff.

posted by leqin [121 posts]
28th July 2014 - 12:34

46 Likes

leqin wrote:
I will wait to see it, but I shan't be surprised if they drift away bit by bit.

I shan't be surprised if they don't even materialise in the first place, let alone drift away.

Remember, this was just a little survey of whether a few people think they might be more likely to ride. There's zero evidence to suggest anyone's actually doing it.

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [420 posts]
28th July 2014 - 13:08

35 Likes

Not unlike when I used to play tennis. The courts were deserted from March through to June, but come Wimbledon you couldn't get to them for the Volvos parked outside. And then, come mid-August... Wink

posted by truffy [380 posts]
28th July 2014 - 13:41

33 Likes

Tour de France inspires Britons to get on their bikes, says Sustrans

I'd be more impressed if it had inspired LAs and the DfT to build more and better infrastructure for cycling on...

posted by congokid [132 posts]
28th July 2014 - 13:42

34 Likes

Despite being mad keen for cycle sport in general and the Tour in particular, I'm afraid that I don't rate it much for positive effects on creating more cycling as a form of TRANsport, rather than sport.

Not only is there little in the way of evidence to support this idea, there are things about cycle sport which put people off from everyday cycling.

See here http://rdrf.org.uk/2014/07/04/will-the-tour-de-france-be-good-for-cyclin... and here http://rdrf.org.uk/2014/07/11/will-the-tour-de-france-be-good-for-cyclin...

posted by ChairRDRF [142 posts]
28th July 2014 - 17:59

39 Likes

It was fantastic to see the TDF in Yorkshire, and see the positive effect it has had on promoting both cycling and Yorkshire.
However... As someone who lives right in the middle of TDF central I'd like to share some less positive aspects.
For weeks before and after the TDF this area has experienced a large influx of cyclist of varying degrees of competence. Most are absolutely fine, riding safely and considerately. As always there are is a small minority who let the side down. The Dales are not a playground, they are a working environment and the people who live here have to get to work, get to the shops, run errands etc and it's easy for them to get annoyed when they are forced to travel behind a cyclist ascending a long steep hill (We have lots of these) at snails pace.
A mere two days after the tour came through, we had the Great Yorkshire Show. 3 More days of road closures, diversions and delays and frustrated people.
I have freinds who run businesses, shops and a restaraunt. In spite of the local council telling us how much money the tour was going to bring to the area, all of my freinds found it had a negative effect on their businesses (the resteraunteur's takings were down more that 50% over the TDF weekend).
Lastly the TDF is now over and the roads are no longer closed. Days after the tour I saw a cyclist overtake a tractor towing a muck spreader (the tractor not the cyclist ) as the tractor turned right (that being the reason the driver had slowed right down). The indicators on a tractor are high up and often covered in muck, and the driver should have been checking his mirrors etc etc anyhow he didn't and it was the few cars who could see this disaster unfolding and sounded their horns that prevented something really nasty from happening. The cyclist seemed completely oblivious and sailed serenely through the middle of the junction without appearing to even notice.
A day or so later I was driving a 4x4 up a very steep almost single track road, for work, and I met a cyclist, head down and clearly "going for it" coming down the hill in the middle of the road. I stopped with no problem ( good brakes and tyres plus I had gravity helping). I don't know how he didn't hit me head on, locked back wheel etc. That was pretty shocking but what shocked me more was the torrent of abuse that I got.
Ok so get to the point - when we're out having fun and exercise don't forget it's a working landscape populated by often tired, bored frustrated people with jobs to do.
Take care be safe.

posted by Sit at the back... [17 posts]
29th July 2014 - 22:23

17 Likes

So one one hand we have the Tour de France making people wanting to get on their bikes and on the other, we have infrastructure that physically forces them to get off their bikes in order to navigate the obstacles/gates/blockages/narrowings that Sustrans themselves have built and put in place on their paths.

Just about sums it all up really.

posted by farrell [1526 posts]
30th July 2014 - 11:29

12 Likes

Sit at the back and be quiet wrote:
The Dales are not a playground, they are a working environment and the people who live here have to get to work, get to the shops, run errands etc and it's easy for them to get annoyed when they are forced to travel behind a cyclist ascending a long steep hill (We have lots of these) at snails pace.
- It may well be easy for them to get annoyed but not excusable. Do they also get easily annoyed when a person walks along the road and they have to slow down to pass, or when another person working in the Dales is moving animals along the road, or when the other person is in a slow tractor whilst they are in their 4x4 at the time?

Getting annoyed because a slower road user causes you a little delay is a just a little bit pathetic really, isn't it?

"The indicators on a tractor are high up and often covered in muck,..." - I think you'll find that having the indicators covered in muck and obscured, even on a tractor, is an offence.

"don't forget it's a working landscape populated by often tired, bored frustrated people with jobs to do." - Nobody, job to do or not, should be driving any motor vehicle when their ability to do so is impaired by tiredness, boredom or frustration.

Finally I do agree that when a cyclist rode too quickly down the hill and nearly hit your 4x4 they were in the wrong and should certainly not have been abusive to you, that was also inexcusable.

I'm still not sure quite what your point was. It reads like; come over and ride your bike but remember it isn't a playground so don't have too much fun, don't get in the way of the hard working, knackered and bored locals who obviously take priority over you and take care and be safe.

Shay

posted by shay cycles [236 posts]
30th July 2014 - 12:19

15 Likes

Sit at the back and be quiet wrote:
Ok so get to the point - when we're out having fun and exercise don't forget it's a working landscape populated by often tired, bored frustrated people with jobs to do.
Take care be safe.

Us town folk don't have jobs, and nobody ever visits either...

posted by farrell [1526 posts]
30th July 2014 - 12:39

11 Likes

Shay - such anger.
Don't forget I cycle too, when I've got time to do it.
I think it's entirely reasonable for people to get upset when they are held up for no good reason. When I'm on my bike I'm always pulling over to let people pass. Walkers are in general very polite and very good at letting vehicles pass. I guess I'm asking for people to show a bit more consideration. What if the person you're delaying has a timetable to keep - a District Nurse for example? Or if it's someone who really shouldn't be delayed, like a midwife? How can you tell? - you can't. Probably better to just be a bit less pedantic about who should be doing what on the roads.
As far as the tractor incident goes, he was pulling a muck spreader which is a big machine designed to err... Spread muck. If you'd ever watched one in action ( entertainment being a bit sparse in'T Dales) you'd realise that they do a pretty fair job but they are a tad indiscriminate. Ok you shouldn't have muck on your indicators but if you had to shift 20-30 loads in a morning I think you might not check your lights etc between each load. I could see the indicator flashing and the cars that sounded their horns could clearly tell what was going on. Also I'm pretty sure that The Highway Code says something about not overtaking at road junctions.
As for tired and bored I agree that nobody should operate machinery of any sort if they're not up to it for whatever reason. I meant tired of doing the same thing over and over (you must have had jobs like that?) you've just got to get on and do it if you want to keep your job.
If you know you've got to get a load of work done in a given time it is quite understandable that you get frustrated when people slow you down. By the way caravans are far more annoying than cyclists.
So I guess what I'm saying is please come to this lovely part of the world, enjoy the place that we're lucky enough to live in, breath in lots of fresh air (not too close to the muck spreader) and have a great time spending your money in our pubs, shops and tea rooms. While you are enjoying yourselves please don't forget that it's not an ideal world where all rules are followed scrupulously, some of the locals may be in a hurry for whatever reason. And a bit of give and take doesn't cost anything.

posted by Sit at the back... [17 posts]
30th July 2014 - 17:01

1 Like