New superhighways and better networks are helping cycle lane usage boom across the UK
Fri 26 Apr 2019
Before construction, just 136 cycle trips per weekday were made on the Leeds-Bradford route. In the first year that increased by 51%, in 2018 by a further 26%.
By January 2019, it had clocked up 870,764 cycle trips. Of users, 30% describe themselves as new or returning cyclists, and 80% use it between three and five days per week.
It’s not perfect – cycle tracks narrow to just 75cm wide in places and give way at some side roads – though it’s 1.8m wide for much of the route and there’s priority over turning traffic on 166 junctions, according to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
A further 2.5 miles of protected cycle superhighway is planned through the centre of Leeds, linking the existing Leeds-Bradford and Leeds-Seacroft routes.
The West Yorkshire councillor Kim Groves said: “We want West Yorkshire to be a place where everyone benefits from a modern transport network and a strong, successful economy. Encouraging more people to cycle and walk has a vital role to play in that.”
Monsal Trail, Peak District
The Monsal Trail is a well-loved traffic-free cycling and walking route on a former railway line. Within two years of two rail tunnels opening in 2011, linking 8.5 miles of trail, usage increased 73%, and a further 19% in 2014. Ridership has since increased by about 5% every year, and the Peak District National Park (PDNP) operators believe there is more growth to come, with hopes to extend the route a further two miles to Matlock railway station for a car-free route into the Peaks.
In 2017 the Monsal Trail’s electronic counter logged 132,991 trips, but problems with the counter in 2018 mean data may be delayed.
The PDNP says “cycle tourists spend more than average and tourist cycle facilities are said to have a very strong payback in terms of local economic spend”. Cyclists on the Monsal Trail alone are estimated to bring in £780,000 a year.
The cycle counter on the eastern side of Parker’s Piece, in the city centre, was installed after Cambridge hosted a stage of the Tour de France in 2014. In 2016 it clocked a million annual trips for the first time, and each year since has hit its millionth trip slightly earlier. Anticipating further growth, a new display that counts up to 1.5m was installed in 2018.
In mid-2017, two major new protected cycle routes were installed on two of Cambridge’s busiest main roads into the city centre, Hills Road and Huntingdon Road, paid for by government funds. These were targeted to encourage cycling to a growing Addenbrooke’s hospital, new housing, a science park and sixth form colleges. Council figures reported a 35% increase in cycling on the bigger Hills Road route after construction, and a 20% increase on Huntingdon Road.
Brighton’s Old Shoreham Road and Lewes Road bike tracks were completed in 2012 and 2013. Old Shoreham Road has a 1-mile Danish-style raised cycle track, aimed to help children travel to school by bike or on foot. The route’s two counters show a similar double peak in June and October, and a dip in August when school is out.
Meanwhile, the Lewes Road cycle route see a daily average of between 764 cycle trips in August and 1,625 in October. According to the sustainable transport charity Sustrans, cycling improvements increased ridership by 14%, with a 13% decrease in general traffic and a 7% boost to bus patronage.
The country’s big hitter for cycling, problems with data collection have hampered publication of digital counts on its two major cycle superhighways, which opened in April 2016. In February 2018, digital counters were installed and soon started displaying prodigious numbers
By August, 574,304 cycle trips had been logged on CS6, the north-south cycle superhighway, and by October 1,654,441 trips on CS3, the east-west route. After that, both counters failed and were switched off, but the CSH counters blog estimates they would have logged more than 3m cycle trips by Christmas. Using manual counts, Transport for London has recorded up to a 200% increase in cycling on the east-west route, and 124% on the north-south route, compared with numbers pre-construction. The city’s walking and cycling commissioner, Will Norman, announced on Tuesday that the counters were fixed again.
Closure of streets to through motor traffic – filtering – also boosts cycling. Goldsmiths Row in Hackney, where more people commute by bike than by car, was filtered in 2013. The cycle counter has logged 6.28m rides so far – an average of 3,917 on weekdays and 1,854 on weekends. It is estimated 1.4 million people used the route in 2018; in 2017 it was 1.1 million.
Protected cycle routes on Manchester’s Oxford Road and Wilmslow Road opened in 2016. In 2018, Oxford Road counters logged almost 1.1m cycling trips, up on 929,610 in 2017 – an increase of 11%.
On Wilmslow Road, between Didsbury and Rusholme, manual counts logged post-construction increases of 86% after 12 months and 103% after two years.
In 2018, the professional cyclist turned active travel campaigner Chris Boardman was appointed the city’s cycling and walking commissioner, and is working with the city’s borough leaders to introduce a cycling network across Manchester to get more people on bikes and on foot. Monitoring will include automatic counters on 14 major routes, along with manual counts and user surveys.
Transport for Greater Manchester said it would also look to assess the impact of schemes on health and the environment.
“This isn’t just about travel; it’s about making places people want to live and spend time, so we will be monitoring how people feel about places where we’ve enabled them to leave the car at home,” they said.
As Rachel Aldred, a reader in transport at Westminster University, put it, looking at the story behind the headline figures is crucial, because although existing cyclists re-routing to new cycle infrastructure is good, new cycling trips generate the greatest benefits.
She added: “We should also be looking at changes in walking. My recent research found the increase in walking generated by new mini-Holland schemes was greater than the increase in cycling.”
If you build them, they will come: record year for cycle counters | Environment | The Guardian
New superhighways and better networks are helping cycle lane usage boom across the UK Fri 26 Apr 2019 Before construction, just 136 cycle trips per weekday were made on the Leeds-Bradford route. In the first year that increased by 51%, in 2018 by a further 26%. By January 2019, it had clocked up 870,764 cycle… [Read More]