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Even at the expense of room for cars, cycling is deemed a good thing

Four out of five people want protected cycleways in cities, to improve safety even at the expense of other traffic.

The biggest assessment to date of the UK’s cities found that 78 per cent say they would like segregated infrastructure, and 69 per cent think more cycling would make their city a better place to live and work.

Bike Life, produced by the charity Sustrans, found that out of 7,700 people surveyed, most think that more space for cycling and walking or buses, as opposed to more space for cars, is the best way to keep their city moving, improve people’s health or air quality.   

Sixty four per cent of the respondents would cycle more if on-road cycle routes physically separated from traffic and pedestrians were available.

Even people who said they never ride a bike still overwhelmingly support the provision of segregated bike routes (74%); for those cycling frequently this figure rose to 87%.   

Currently, a total of just 19 miles of cycle lanes on roads, physically separated from traffic and pedestrians exist in six of the seven cities investigated: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester and Newcastle (excluding Birmingham where no data is available). 

Only six per cent of the residents surveyed usually travel to and from work by bicycle and just 30% think cycling safety in their city is good.

Three-quarters (75 per cent) support more investment in cycling.   

Bike Life also found that people cycling in the seven cities take up to 111,564 cars off roads each day. If these cars were lined up, this would equate to a 333 mile tailback – a distance greater than from Cardiff to Newcastle.   

Xavier Brice, CEO for Sustrans said: “Bike Life shows that most people living in the seven cities say cycling is a good thing and are far more supportive of bold and ambitious plans for cycling than decision-makers often think. They want dedicated space for people on bicycles even when this means taking space away from cars.   

“From Mexico City to Manchester, mayors around the world are waking up to the fact that their cities need to be designed around people, not motor vehicles and that investing in cycling is key to keeping their city moving, and improving health and economic vitality.   

“At a time of falling funding for cycling in the UK – outside of London and Scotland – we call on governments at all levels to work together to meet people’s needs by investing in segregated routes that make cycling across our cities attractive, safe and convenient.”   

Bike Life reports every two years on infrastructure, travel habits, satisfaction and the impact of cycling in seven cities: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester and Newcastle. This includes an independent survey with a representative sample of 1,100 residents aged 16+ in each city on issues such as cycle safety, bike ownership and what people would like investment in cycling to be spent on.   

Chris Boardman, British Cycling Policy adviser and now Greater Manchester's first Cycling and Walking Commissioner, said: “Evidence has shown us time and again that the world’s happiest and healthiest cities all have high cycling rates in common. It’s no coincidence, cycling really is the silver bullet.   
“More people using bikes instead of cars would address so many of the problems our urban centres face – health, congestion, air quality, social inclusion…you name it, more cycling will have a positive impact on it.   

“Greater Manchester is determined to become one of the most attractive city regions in the world and, in pursing that aim, it’s great to see through Bike Life the vast majority of our residents want us to prioritise making cycling a safe and attractive thing for them to do.”   

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.