This article was published in 2020, in Magazine 148.
Overwhelming support for more cycling in Britain
Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of the #BikeIsBest campaign shows the silent majority of Britons are in favour of measures to encourage walking and cycling, but they are being drowned out by a vocal minority.
The survey shows 6.5 people support changes to their local streets for every 1 person against. Of all respondents, 70% believe more people cycling would reduce traffic congestion and 65% want to see British roads redesigned and changed to protect cyclists and pedestrians from cars. 77% would support road space reallocation to make these changes.
However, despite this support, many recent initiatives to enable active travel during the coronavirus pandemic have met with vocal opposition from residents and pro-motoring groups. For example, a pop-up cycle lane in Reigate, Surrey, was due to be trialled for three weeks but lasted just three days.
Dr Ian Walker, Environmental Psychologist at the University of Bath, said: ‘Perhaps one reason negative voices find it so easy to sway things their way is that people have a tendency to misjudge public levels of support. The survey showed that, while most people think Britain would be a better place if more people cycled, they also guessed that other people were less supportive, and more hostile, to the idea than they were.’
Adam Tranter, a spokesperson for #BikeIsBest and an active travel campaigner, said: ‘When 20mph streets were first proposed, pro-motoring groups were whipped up into a frenzy, just as they are today. In 2017, data showed that the proportion opposed or strongly opposed to residential 20mph limits was just 10%. The same is happening here with measures to enable more people to switch their journeys to cycling and walking.’
He added: ‘Local authorities need to stand up and refuse to be bullied into a U-turn on plans to turn Britain into a better place. These are plans the public agree with, so people also need to speak up so their silence isn’t taken as consent to keep our streets dominated by motor vehicles’.
To show local authorities the unmet demand for better cycling infrastructure, the #BikeIsBest campaign has set up an online petition for people to show their support for measures to enable cycling.
Sign the petition (which will presented to local authorities by a coalition of 50 cycling organisations) at bikeisbest.com/petition
Cycling UK gets the nation Pumped Up for cycling
In August, Cycling UK launched an invigorating campaign aimed at capturing the UK’s new-found enthusiasm for cycling.
It’s been well-documented that the pandemic has allowed us to imagine a future with fewer cars, cleaner air – and more cycling. Recent figures show a 147% increase in cycling levels and cycle shops have seen an unprecedented demand for bikes: evidence that more people have been out riding.
Pumped Up set out to find these people, celebrate the joy of cycling and remind people about the fun and freedom it unlocks. To launch the campaign, Cycling UK toured all over the country to capture more than 50 portraits, providing a snapshot of people for whom cycling is or has recently become a way of life. The charity hopes the stories will inspire others to get pumped up for cycling too!
As part of the campaign, Cycling UK is looking for volunteers to join its Pumped Up Crew – to PROMOTE cycling on social media, help new people start to PEDAL and to PARTNER with others groups to get more people riding. Individuals can also join the World’s Biggest Bike Ride on 12 September – just log a ride of any length on that day on the Cycling UK website to show your support for cycling.
Find out more about the campaign at cyclinguk.org/pumpedup
New Sustrans guide promotes cycling for everyone
Sustrans has called for people working in transport across the UK to ensure that cycling is inclusive and helps address wider inequality within towns and cities. Together with Arup, it has published Cycling for Everyone, a new guide for inclusive cycling which aims to support decision-makers in local government and the transport sector to make the activity accessible for people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, abilities and genders. Their research found that 55% of people from ethnic minority groups who do not currently cycle would like to start.
The inclusive design guide focuses on cities and towns in the UK but the recommendations are equally applicable across the world as it considers socio-economic and local travel contexts, how to create better spaces for everyone to cycle in, how to welcome and support all cyclists and how to improve governance, planning and decision-making around cycling.
Download the Cycling for Everyone guide at tinyurl.com/cyclingforeveryone
News in Brief
GOING UP: Cycle parking at stations
Greater Anglia is creating an additional 392 cycle spaces across five of its rail stations. Audley End will gain 60 spaces, Braintree 32 spaces, Manningtree 200 spaces, and March and Newmarket 50 spaces each. Work should be completed by the end of September. It will include a mix of new covered and open cycle parking spaces and conversion of single tier bike racks to double tier, plus improved lighting and CCTV. The project is being funded by Greater Anglia, the DfT and three local councils.
GOING DOWN: The National Cycle Network
Sustrans has removed or reclassified nearly 4,000 miles of routes from its National Cycling Network, with the intention to make the NCN ‘more accessible and provide a consistent user experience’. Over 750 miles have been completely removed as they ‘fall too far short of the quality standards Sustrans aspires to’. These changes follow the Paths for Everyone report, published in November 2018, which highlighted issues with the network, including poor signage, barriers to accessibility, routes which were at times impassable and others which were unsuitable for a child of 12 to ride alone
News in Numbers
of the Republic of Ireland’s transport budget will be spent on cycling (£66 per head, compared with £6-10 for the UK) following a coalition deal forged by Green Party leader and former bike shop owner Eamon Ryan.
Source: Forbes (June 2020)
would be the default speed on all Welsh residential roads by 2023, if the proposal goes through a coming consultation and final vote. The plan was approved in the Senedd in July with 45 out of 60 voters in favour.
Source: Transport Network (July 2020)
Congratulations to Outspoken Training’s Nikki Searle, who was honoured as one of Cycling UK’s 100 Women in Cycling for 2020. Nikki is a regular cyclist, campaigner and Bikeability instructor who has helped thousands of people start cycling. She’s also a peer mentor for other instructors and a volunteer with the Histon and Impington Community Trishaw project.