Bike Life: Our vision for cycling in cities across the UK

By Xavier Brice,
Bike Life - cycling in Newcastle

6% of residents usually travel to and from work by bicycle

Bike LIfe Manchester - Ashton

69% say their city would be a better place to live and work if more people cycled

53% would like to start riding a bike or could ride their bike more

64% of people would find protected roadside cycle lanes very useful to help them cycle more

up to 11,564 cars are taken off our roads by bicycles each day, equal to a 333-mile tailback

Cycling levels in the UK peaked in 1949, when 15 billion miles were travelled by bike, equivalent to 37% of all traffic.

People riding bikes played a crucial role in our past and will play an important role in our future.

Cycling will shape how we get about in our towns and cities. It’s good for our health, for air quality, for the local economy, and for making our streets more liveable.

Critically, bikes are up to five times more efficient at moving people than cars. Cities are space limited, populations are increasing and too many cars cause traffic jams. Bikes will rise again.

Bike Life 2017 shows people living in seven major UK cities understand this. Three times as many people would invest in more space for walking, cycling or public transport to keep their city moving than invest in more space for cars.

Furthermore, over two-thirds of residents we talked to, think more cycling would make their city a better place to live and work.

Bike Life in 2017 shows progress is being made.

Since 2015 we have witnessed new and better cycle infrastructure schemes, an increasing coverage of areas with 20 mph speed limits and a range of supporting programmes to get people on their bikes. This has led to over 123 million trips taking place across our seven cities in the past year producing considerable economic, health and environmental benefits for everyone detailed in this report.

However, we still have a long way to go. Only 30% of residents think cycling safety in their city is currently good, or just 21% when it comes to the safety of children riding a bike. People want more investment in safe, dedicated space for cycling in a network that gets them from door to door for everyday trips to work, education or shopping.

64% of people told us they would find protected roadside cycle lanes very useful to help them cycle more. And 78% of residents surveyed would support building more on road protected cycle lanes even when this could mean less space for vehicles.

Currently, in total only 19 miles of on-road cycle routes exist that are physically separated from traffic and pedestrians in six of the seven cities (excluding Birmingham where no data is available). It's clear there is work to be done if we are to move forward.

It’s time for us all to work together to realise the role that cycling and walking can play in our cities. We know the answers, the public is supportive and we have seen cities like London, Seville and Oslo implement changes quickly with great results.

National and local governments must work together to invest and deliver protected space for bikes and unlock the potential for cycling in every UK city.

This is the first in our three-part series of Bike life blogs: 

Read Part 2 - Bike Life: Public support for protected bike lanes  

Read Part 3 - Bike Life: Protected bike lanes will transform our cities