Over half of residents (58%) in UK major urban areas are supporting more investment in cycling and its related equipments, compared to 42% for motor vehicle driving in same areas.

The Bike Life website report, published by the charity Sustrans and 12 big cities and urban areas, found many than one in two (55%) of residents agreed with the report that there are too many people driving in their cities.

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Overall, the public supports measures by the government to reduce motor vehicle use. 59% of residents agree that reducing through-traffic on limited private places would make their city a better place to live and work. And 56% support the concept of charging more polluting vehicles (including secret cars) entering city centers if the financial proceeds were used to help fund public transport, walking, and cycling services.

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The web report highlights cycling as one of the best ways to reduce transport emissions in cities and calls for a step-change in investment for zero-emission modes of transport, such as walking and cycling for everyday journeys.

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Road transport accounts for 27% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, of which the primary source is private motor vehicles.[1]

Last month, the UK Government announced plans to bring forward the ban on sales of new diesel and petrol vehicles by five years to 2035, to help curb the climate change crisis and reach a net-zero emission economy result by 2050.

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Yet existing plans lack meaningful investment for walking and cycling. Modeling shows we will still need to reduce motor vehicle use by up to 60% by 2030 to achieve carbon targets.

The Bike Life report, which is the UK’s most extensive assessment of cycling in cities, includes an independent survey of 16,923 adult residents, aged 16 and over, on their traveling habits and attitudes as well as data on the health, economic, financial and environmental benefits of cycling in each city.

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The report also revealed:

  • Cycling trips across the 12 cities saved up to 160,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions last year. Cycling also took 270,000 cars off UK roads each day.
  • Cycling trips generated £850 million in benefits to the local economy per year.
  • Only one in seven (15%) of residents cycle at least once a week, and 28% think cycling safety in their city is excellent.
  • Three-quarters (77%) of residents think more cycle tracks physically separated from traffic, and pedestrians would help them to start cycling or cycle more.
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents support building cycle tracks, even when this would mean less room for other road traffic.

Currently, across eleven of the cities and urban areas[3], there are only 50 miles of protected cycle tracks serving a total population of 9 million (to compare, Copenhagen city, with its population of 1.3 million, boasts 237 miles of cycle tracks).[4]

Daisy Narayanan, Director of Urbanism at Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity said:

“The climate crisis is the most significant environmental and health challenge of the 21st century. With road transport being one of the vital sources of greenhouse gasses and air pollutants, it’s time we end car-centric planning which has shaped our cities and towns for decades and re-prioritize our streets towards people.

“Many cities are taking action to reduce car trips and make it more convenient steps and environment for people to walk and do cycling. Our report shows the public is supportive of these plans and steps”.

“Ahead of crucial climate talks at COP26 in Glasgow, we urge the UK Government to show leadership and make a step-change in investment for cycling and walking, including protected cycle lanes, and adopt policies to support more people to switch from driving to walking and cycling for shorter journeys. This will help cities and towns to reduce car use and meet the national obligations under the Climate Change Act.”