Public 'favourable' to more investment in cycling


Three quarters (75%) of people think more money should be invested in cycling, according to new research.

A survey of 11,000 people across seven UK cities found that on average people want £26 to be spent per person on cycling each year.

According to travel charity Sustrans - which commissioned the Bike Life Survey - the current amount spent in England is £4 per person, while in Scotland the figure is £9.

Even 71% of people who never ride a bike think funding should be increased, the study found. This rises to 87% among regular riders.

The Department for Transport (DfT) claimed that spending on cycling is at around £6 per person in England - up from £2 in 2010 - while over £10 is spent in London and cities that are part of the cycling ambition programme, including Birmingham, Leeds, Oxford and Newcastle.

Sustrans found that in Greater Manchester just 26% of people rate cycling safety as "good or very good", while Birmingham is only narrowly ahead at 27%.

Newcastle - the city with the highest safety rating in the survey - scored just 38%.

Funding levels for the new Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy in England are set to be announced by the Government next year. Sustrans policy director, Jason Torrance, called for the scheme to be "ambitious" in order to guarantee long-term investment in active travel.

He went on: "The message from the public couldn't be clearer. There's a desire to cycle more, but that a lack of safe places to ride bikes is off-putting.

"People want governments to spend more, and say that they would cycle more if it were safer. Now governments must close this gap between current spending and public demand.

"Physical inactivity, congestion and declining air quality cost our economy billions. Government must act to secure a greater share of current transport investment for cycling and walking."

A DfT spokesman said: "The Government is committed to getting more people cycling which is why we have invested £374m since 2011 to make cycling more appealing for people of all ages and abilities.

"We are delivering safer junctions on road networks, traffic-free cycle links and are working to ensure all new roads have safe infrastructure for cyclists."

The Sustrans survey was carried out in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester and Newcastle.

Chairman of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, Andrew Fender, said the area has a "vision of making cycling an aspirational and attractive travel choice for everyone".

Policy and development director of Marketing Birmingham, Tim Manson, commented: "I welcome this report. It's time to act. The aspiration and desire of residents for change is strong."

The report is based on the Copenhagen Bicycle Account, which began in 1996. That research, which includes surveys about the population's perception of cycling infrastructure, has persuaded Danish policy makers to turn the capital into one of the world's most bike-friendly cities.

Sustrans hopes the same can be achieved in the UK following its own investigation.