There is significant public demand for increased government spending to make cycling safer and more accessible, according to the biggest UK-wide survey on the subject, with three-quarters of people saying they supported such a move.
The study for Sustrans of 11,000 people in seven cities found 75% wanted more money to be spent on cycling measures. On average, people supported an annual spend per person of about £26 on cycling, against the current £4 figure for England.
The charity’s research found significant backing even among those who never ride a bike, with 71% saying they would support more bike-based spending. For frequent cyclists this figure rose to 87%.
Currently, about 1% to 2% of all trips in the UK are made by bike, as against figures of 25% or more in some nations, such as the Netherlands. Activists argue that more bike use would greatly help combat the ongoing health crisis caused by physical inactivity, as well as reducing vehicle pollution, among other benefits.
Jason Torrance, policy director at Sustrans said:
“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. Governments must act to secure a greater share of current transport investment for cycling and walking.”
The ICM research, which covered Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester and Newcastle, found people believed that of the £300 or so currently spent annually per person on transport, £26 should go to cycling.
Almost three quarters of people said they believed more cycling would benefit the nation overall, while two-thirds said it would make their local area a better place to live and work.
Sustrans’ research, called the Bike Life Survey, is intended to mirror a long-term study in Denmark, the Copenhagen Bicycle Account, which helps identify areas where new cycle cycle infrastructure is most in demand. Currently 45% of all school and work trips in the city are made by bike.