People in cities want protected space for cycling

cyclists on protected path Bike Life
14 November 2017

Bike Life, the UK’s biggest assessment of cycling in cities, reveals four out of five people (78%) want more protected bike routes on roads built to make cycling safer, even when this could mean less space for other road traffic.

Bike Life, produced by Sustrans and seven major UK cities, reveals that out of the 7,700 people surveyed over two-thirds (69%) say more cycling would make their city a better place to live and work. Most residents interviewed think that more space for cycling and walking or buses, as opposed to more space for cars, is the best way to keep their city moving, improve people’s health or air quality.

Sixty four per cent would cycle more if on-road cycle routes physically separated from traffic and pedestrians were available. Even people who said they never ride a bike still overwhelmingly support the provision of protected routes (74%), even when this could mean less space for other road traffic.

However, currently a total of just 19 miles of cycle routes on roads, physically separated from traffic and pedestrians exist in six of the seven cities (excluding Birmingham where no data is available).

Furthermore, only 30% of residents interviewed think cycling safety in their city is good. And three-quarters (75%) support more investment in cycling.

Bike Life also found that people cycling in the seven cities take up to 111,564 cars off our roads each day. If these cars were lined up this would equate to a 333-mile tailback – a distance greater than from Cardiff to Newcastle.

Xavier Brice, CEO for Sustrans said:

“Bike Life shows that most people living in these seven cities think cycling is a good thing and are far more supportive of bold and ambitious plans for cycling than decision-makers often think. They want dedicated space for people on bicycles even when this means taking space away from cars.

“From Mexico City to Manchester, city leaders around the world are waking up to the fact that their cities need to be designed around people, not motor vehicles and that investing in cycling and walking is key to keeping their city moving, and improving health and economic vitality.

“At a time of falling funding for cycling in the UK – outside of London and Scotland – we call on governments at all levels to work together to meet people’s needs by investing in protected routes that make cycling across our cities attractive, safe and convenient.”

Chris Boardman, British Cycling Policy adviser and now Greater Manchester's first Cycling and Walking Commissioner, said:

“Evidence has shown us time and again that the world’s happiest and healthiest cities all have high cycling rates in common. It’s no coincidence, cycling really is the silver bullet.

“More people using bikes instead of cars would address so many of the problems our urban centres face – health, congestion, air quality, social inclusion…you name it, more cycling will have a positive impact on it.

“Greater Manchester is determined to become one of the most attractive city regions in the world and, in pursuing that aim, it’s great to see through Bike Life the vast majority of our residents want us to prioritise making cycling a safe and attractive thing for them to do.”

Bike Life reports for each city can be found at

For more information, interviews, case studies and photos contact:

Anna Galandzij, Senior Press Officer at Sustrans, 07557 915 648, [email protected]
Amy Jones, Press and Media Officer at Sustrans, 07768 035318, [email protected]

Notes to editors

  • Bike Life is funded by the Freshfield Foundation and the seven cities participating in the project: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester and Newcastle.
  • Bike Life reports every two years on infrastructure, travel habits, satisfaction and the impact of cycling more widely. The information comes from local data, modelling and an independent ICM survey with a representative sample of around 1,100 residents aged 16+ in each city.
  • The original Bike Life report was published in the seven cities in 2015. It reported that majority of people (75%) supported £26 per head investment in cycle infrastructure.
  • Bike Life mirrors the Copenhagen Bicycle Account which outlines the development in cycling, identifies challenges and informs planning. The Danish capital of Copenhagen is the most-bicycle friendly city in the world with investment since 2004 of over £35 per head on cycling and a network of protected cycle routes on almost all main roads and bridges across the city. In 2016, 41% of trips to work and education in the city were made by bike, and 76% of Copenhagener’s feel secure when cycling (Copenhagen Bike Account, 2016. Copenhagen City of Cyclists).
  • It is hoped that the same can be achieved in time in the seven UK cities, with Bike Life informing decision making and investment across all governments. Currently, there’s huge variation in active travel spending in cities across the UK up to £25 per head in 2016/17 in Bristol, however many cities are about to face a significant fall in funding.
  • ICM Unlimited is an independent research and polling company.