Tuesday 14 November 2017 07.15 GMT
It may not be clear from the persistent bikelash in many sections of the media, but in fact there is huge public support for increased government investment in cycling and especially for building segregated bike routes.
Of 7,700 people surveyed in seven major UK cities for a new study published on Tuesday, 78% of people support the creation of more protected bike routes on roads, even when this could mean less space for other road traffic, with the majority of people saying this would encourage them to cycle more.
Yet, at present, a total of only 19 miles of physically segregated on-road cycle routes exist between Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester and Newcastle (this data was not available for Birmingham). This means they cover just 0.17% of those cities’ road networks. If you include off-road paths shared with pedestrians, the mileage goes up, but this is still a stark reminder of the gap between what people say they need and what has actually been built, as investment and political leadership have lagged behind public opinion.
Since 2014, Sustrans has been working with the seven cities and the polling company ICM Unlimited to produce the Bike Life reports, gathering data on cycle infrastructure, travel habits, public attitudes and the impact of cycling. The reports are then used to inform local investment and planning.
There has been some progress in recent years. Now, more than a quarter of people in these cities live within 125m of a cycle route, while almost half of all streets are 20mph. Other successes include segregated flagship routes in Belfast and Manchester, the Big Birmingham Bikes scheme which distributed 4,000 bikes to residents in the most deprived wards of the city, and a new walking and cycling bridge over the River Ely in Cardiff.
These schemes have had a palpable impact on people’s lives. The new report estimates that cycling takes up to 111,564 cars off our roads every day; line those cars up and it would equate to a 333 mile tailback.
• Xavier Brice is CEO of walking and cycling charity Sustrans