Sustrans Copenhagen-inspired cycling assessment to roll out in additional UK cities

cyclists on protected lane in Greater Manchester

New cities join Bike Life, the UK’s biggest assessment of cycling in cities. Image credit Livia Lazar/Sustrans

cyclist in urban street,  Tower Hamlets, London

Bike Life now covers 14 cities and city regions totalling 20% of the UK population. Image credit J Bewley/Sustrans

Cyclists in Southampton, Riverside Park

Southampton, Riverside Park. Image credit J Bewley/Sustrans

9 May 2018

Southampton, Greater Cambridge, Liverpool City Region and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets have joined Bike Life – a partnership project run by the walking and cycling charity Sustrans – which is designed to help UK cities normalise cycling.

Additionally, Bike Life in Birmingham, which launched in 2014, will expand to cover the West Midlands.

The local authorities in each region and city will be working with Sustrans to produce reports capturing data on infrastructure, travel habits, public attitudes and the impact of cycling, due to be published in 2020 and 2022.

The Scottish Government has taken the lead in funding Bike Life in Scottish cities outside Edinburgh. Sustrans Scotland will work with Glasgow, Perth and Stirling to deliver respective Bike Life reports, due out in November 2018. 

In total 14 cities and regions are due to participate in the project between 2018 and 2022. Collectively they cover almost 14 million people or 20% of the entire UK population.

Bike Life was founded in 2014 in seven major UK cities to help local authorities build the case for cycling and inform planning at a local level whilst shaping the political and funding landscape for active travel across the UK.

Bike Life has been used to develop cycling strategies, justify investment and delivery of schemes, support air quality plans, and demonstrate the benefits of cycling in cities for residents. Most recently the Greater Manchester Combined Authority used evidence from Bike Life to demonstrate public support for a bold new strategy for cycling. This has already paved the way for an investment of £160m for active travel.

Xavier Brice, Sustrans’ CEO, said: “Bike Life has demonstrated how it is an important tool to help encourage both political support and practical delivery of cycling in our cities. We are excited to be rolling this out to new cities across the UK.

“Delivering better infrastructure for cycling is key to keeping our cities moving, and improving health and economic vitality. It is fantastic to see local authorities have the appetite for change.

“Bike Life shows that people in cities across the UK understand the benefits of cycling and want better provision, including protected space. We need both national and local governments to rise to this challenge and make our cities more active and liveable”.

Cllr Jacqui Rayment, Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport, Southampton City Council, said:

“In Southampton, we are passionate about the health and wellbeing benefits cycling offers our residents. In addition, cycling also has a really positive impact on the quality of air in our city. As successful bidders for funding that supports and encourages active travel, we think Bike Life can help further develop the economic case for additional funding in Southampton.”

Councillor Ian Bates, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Chair of the Economy and Environment Committee and Greater Cambridge Partnership Board Member, said:

“I’m delighted that Greater Cambridge has been successful in joining the Sustrans Bike Life project.

“This means that much more data can be collected to gauge the progress that is being made in getting more people cycling more safely and more often across the area.

“Gathering more information will help build the case for further investment in walking and cycling, which is so important in helping to tackle traffic congestion, improve air quality and produce a network which allows a broader spread of people to feel safe and confident cycling”

Will Tuckley, Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council said:

“We are delighted to be the first London borough to work with Bike Life to build the case for additional cycling strategies and innovative alternatives to car use.

“Reducing air pollution and developing active travel options are key priorities in Tower Hamlets. The data we collate will pave the way for new investment in greener transport solutions across the borough.”

Steve Rotheram Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

“As Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, I have pledged that we will promote and champion sustainable transport. Cycling is a healthy form of transport and we are working in partnership to make it more attractive and accessible to encourage more people to take it up. We are delighted to be part of the national BikeLife programme and look forward to working alongside the other participant areas to make the most of this great opportunity.”

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. The Government has invested over £35 per head each year on cycling and a network of segregated cycle routes on almost all main roads and bridges across the city since 2004. 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).

Currently, there’s a huge variation in active travel spending across the UK and many cities are facing a significant fall in funding.

The expansion of Bike Life in England is funded by the Freshfield Foundation and the cities and regions themselves. For more information and respective city Bike Life reports visit

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

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

  • Bike Life is funded by the Freshfield Foundation and the eleven cities and regions participating in the project: Belfast, Bristol, Greater Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester, Southampton, Tower Hamlets, Newcastle, Liverpool City Region, and the West Midlands.
  • The Scottish Government is funding Sustrans Scotland to deliver Bike Life in partnership with relevant local authorities, starting with Perth, Stirling and Glasgow in 2018
  • 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 survey with a representative sample of around 1,100 residents aged 16+ in each city.
  • Bike Life found in 2017 that 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. Over two-thirds (69%) say more cycling would make their city a better place to live and work.
  • ICM Unlimited is an independent research and polling company.