People living in UK towns and cities want to see more investment in cycling and a reduction in car use, according to a new survey.
Almost 17,000 people were questioned for the Bike Life report, published by the charity Sustrans and 12 major cities and urban areas.
Bike Life reports every two years on infrastructure, travel habits, attitudes towards travel, cycling, improvements to neighbourhoods and cities, and the impact of cycling more widely.
The information comes from local data, modelling and an independent survey conducted by social research organisation NatCen with residents aged over 16 in each urban area. (Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Dundee, Edinburgh, Greater Cambridge, Greater Manchester, Inverness, Liverpool City Region, Southampton City Region, Tyneside, and West Midlands.)
Amongst the findings were that 58 per cent of respondents wants to see more investment in cycling, as opposed to 42 per cent for driving; while over half (55 per cent) agreed that there were too many people driving in their area.
However, only 28 per cent of residents said they thought cycling safety in their city was good.
Over two-thirds (68 per cent) expressed support for more cycle tracks – even when this would mean less room for other road traffic.
Daisy Narayanan, Director of Urbanism at Sustrans, said it was time to end car-centric planning and to instead prioritise people.
“Many cities are taking action to reduce car trips and make it more convenient for people to walk and cycle,” she said. “Our report shows the public is supportive of these plans.”
Over three-quarters (77 per cent) of respondents said that segregated cycle lanes would help them to start cycling or to cycle more.
However, there are currently only 50 miles of protected cycle tracks across 11 of the cities and urban areas included in the report (Liverpool didn’t provide this information), serving a total population of nine million.
To put this in perspective, Copenhagen, with a population of 1.3 million, boasts 237 miles of cycle tracks.
One region with ambitious plans is Greater Manchester, where walking and cycling commissioner Chris Boardman is presiding over the creation of the Bee Network.
Boardman believes that the region could serve as a ‘national blueprint’ for cycling and walking if the Government were willing to provide funding.
“The main thing holding people back is the lack of safe, attractive space to cycle, which is why we designed an 1,800-mile cycling and walking network to span Greater Manchester and connect every community,” he said.
“The benefits from enabling people to leave the car at home are potentially enormous but we can’t deliver the country’s biggest urban cycling and walking network without the Government’s backing.
“Last month, we took our detailed plan to Government and asked them for the sustained investment required to fully deliver this transformational project so we can reap the huge benefits in health, congestion reduction and improved air quality.
“It’s an investment that will save the region billions. I think the real question, is not whether Government will back us, but can they afford not to? We're currently awaiting their response."