44% of people in the UK would like to cycle more than they do, according to a survey from Ipsos Mori. It’s a positive endorsement of policies for active travel, which is an important part of reducing transport emissions.
A few years ago transport overtook power generation as the main source of Britain’s carbon emissions. While electricity generation has rapidly decarbonised, transport emissions have barely dipped in thirty years. People want to drive cars, and they want to drive big cars.
But they also want to cycle more. And 71% of people would support actions to encourage more walking and cycling. So what’s stopping us from getting on our bikes?
Research consistently finds that safety is the main obstacle to cycling. Traffic and safety are the two biggest reasons that people don’t cycle. (Only 15% cite the weather.) There’s a vicious circle to this. People don’t feel safe in the traffic and so they take their car, thus becoming part of the car traffic that keeps them off their bike in the first place.
We know there’s about a third of the population that has no interest in cycling, and around 10% that already cycle regularly. In between is a big slice of people who would like to cycle more. If we built cycle lanes, reduced traffic speeds in urban areas, and segregated bikes away from cars, we’d see more cycling. That would create a positive feedback loop – more people cycling and thereby reducing traffic, making it easier for others to get on their bikes.
This won’t happen by itself. It will need some intervention, and real investment in infrastructure.
But since people want this, there are votes here. Tell your local politicians.