New figures released by the Government this week reveal that road safety concerns are the most common barrier to cycling. In response, Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, has urged ministers to take action to make cycling an attractive option for everyone – not just for a small segment of society.
Department for Transport (DfT) figures show that the number of trips made by bike has remained static, even if people are typically cycling further.
Two fifths of people have access to a bicycle, but only around 14 per cent of people cycle at least once a week and 66 per cent cycle less than once a year or never.
While the average number of miles cycled in 2017 was 54 per cent higher than in 2002 at 60 miles per person, people did an average of 17 trips per person per year, compared to 18 in 2002.
The report says: “While there have been a similar number of cycling trips made per person per year in the general population since 2002, among cyclists average trips have been increasing since 2005.
“The [National Travel Survey] sample is not identifying more cyclists, but those in the sample have generally been making more cycling trips and travelling further.”
The story is essentially one of stagnation and the report indicates that road safety concerns remain the main barrier to cycling.
In 2017, 62 per cent of adults aged 18+ in England agreed that “it is too dangerous for me to cycle on the roads”.
Women were more likely than men to agree (69 per cent to 56 per cent) and people were more likely to agree if they were older.
The figures also show that men made almost three times as many cycle trips as women (24 trips compared to 9 trips), and cycled almost four times further (95 miles compared to 25 miles).
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Head of Campaigns, said: “The Government has just closed its consultation on cycle and pedestrian safety, and now we need them to urgently publish their findings and take immediate action.
“Its own statistics published today show that 60 per cent of adults admit they feel it’s too dangerous to cycle on the road, and in particular women and older people are put off cycling by those fears.
“Although cycling is statistically much safer than many people think, it’s clear the Government has to address the key issues of infrastructure, such as improving roads and cycle lanes, and making sure our traffic laws operate effectively to promote road safety for everyone.”
The second most common barrier was “Bike broken/don’t own a bike” with 18 per cent of respondents indicating this was a reason for them not cycling (an issue Cycling UK is trying to address via its Big Bike Revival). This was followed by “Easier/quicker to go by car” (16 per cent).
The statistics reveal that journeys under two miles are overwhelmingly being driven rather than cycled, even though 38 per cent of people agree many of these journeys could be made by bike.
Dollimore observed: “This proves there is an appetite for people to cycle more, and it’s clear that cycling is growing in popularity but only as a leisure pursuit and not as the Government’s ambition to make it the natural choice for shorter journeys.
“Now is the time to stop talking about what needs to be done and get on with making cycling a much more realistic prospects for many more people.”