Seven in 10 respondents to a new survey back moves to encourage cycling and walking and reduce the use of motor vehicles – but an identical percentage, 71 per cent, also claim that their current lifestyle means they need a car.
The high level of agreement with the two statements means that many respondents to the survey, from Ipsos MORI, will be included in both – and the likelihood is that for at least some of those, reducing motor traffic is seen as desirable but only if it affects other people, not themselves.
The survey of a representative sample of 2,240 people aged 16+ in the UK was carried out in February by market research firm Ipsos.
It also found that 44% say of respondents said that they would like to cycle more than they currently do – but at the same time, 47 per cent agreed with the statement, “I’m not the kind of person who rides a bicycle.”
Younger people were more likely to state that they would like to cycle than those in older age groups, at 58 per cent of people aged 25-34 versus 32 per cent of those aged 55-plus.
There was also a difference by gender, with 50 per cent of men wanting to cycle more versus 39 per cent of women. Meanwhile, levels of agreement with the statement were similar between people living in urban and rural areas.
In common with similar surveys in the past, the perception that it is “too dangerous to cycle on the roads” emerged as the number-one barrier to getting people in the survey, 64 per cent of people agreeing with the statement, including 26 per cent who strongly agreed with it.
Women, at 71 per cent, were more likely to agree with the statement than men, at 57 per cent, were.
Most respondents, 55 per cent, agreed that there is too much traffic congestion where they live, and there is more support than opposition to schemes that charge people to use roads in towns and cities (as already exist in for example Durham and London), at 45 per cent versus 33 per cent.
The difference between the two is much narrower than it was when the question was last posed by Ipsos in November 2020, when the respective totals were 62 per cent and 21 per cent.
Finally, more people support low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) than those who oppose them, with 42 per cent in favour of interventions such as planters and bollards to restrict rat-running traffic while 33 per cent are opposed to them.
Commenting on the findings, Christian Easdown, associate director for public affairs at Ipsos in the UK said: “Superficially, there is considerable appetite among many people to adopt more sustainable travel behaviours such as walking, cycling or using public transport over driving a car.
“But there are significant barriers to this happening in practice – for example, most people think our roads aren’t safe for cyclists.
“The public say they want to see more encouragement to cycle and back the adoption of electric vehicles but are cooler on the imposition of restrictions and charges for car use even if this reduces congestion and improves the environment.
It remains to be seen if the ‘cost of living’ crisis and sensitivities about interventions being ‘anti-car’ make a difference to public opinion too,” he added.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.