Just 30% of respondents from seven cities say it is safe to cycle where they live, and many believe protected lanes would help
Helen PiddLast modified on Mon 27 Nov 2017 13.49 GMT
The vast majority of UK city dwellers would support their taxes being spent on building cycle lanes, believing their city would be a better place to live and work if more people swapped their cars for bicycles, according to a study.
Sustrans, the cycling and walking advocacy group, found that although just 6% of people commute to work by bike, 75% would like to see more money spent on cycling infrastructure and 78% support building more protected bike lanes, even if this could mean less space for other road traffic.
The charity surveyed more than 1,000 people in each of seven UK cities: Newcastle, Cardiff, Belfast, Bristol, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Greater Manchester. Almost three-quarters of respondents said cycle safety needed to be improved in their city, with just 30% saying it was safe to ride a bike where they lived. Even fewer, 21%, thought it was safe for children to cycle.
Research shows that segregated bike lanes encourage more people to saddle up. Last year Transport for London reported a 50% increase in the number of cyclists using some roads where a protected cycle superhighway had been built. On Blackfriars Bridge, one of the busiest Thames crossings, cyclists now account for 70% of all traffic.
In Manchester, cycling increased by 86% along Wilmslow Road, in the university district, after a £7.5m segregated bike lane was built.
Cycling levels in the UK peaked in 1949, when 15bn miles were travelled by bike, equivalent to 37% of all journeys, according to Xavier Brice, Sustrans chief executive. “People riding bikes played a crucial role in our past and will play an important role in our future,” Brice said. “Cycling will shape how we get about in our towns and cities. It’s good for our health, for air quality, for the local economy, and for making our streets more liveable.
“Critically, bikes are up to five times more efficient at moving people than cars. Cities are space limited, populations are increasing and too many cars cause traffic jams. Bikes will rise again.”