Bristol’s Bike Life report has demonstrated the public’s appetite for more investment across the city for people travelling on two wheels, with 70% wanting more money spent on cycling.
Bristol has been at the forefront of UK cycling innovation and investment for the best part of 20 years.
We’ve been lucky to have had the benefit of successive politicians that ‘get it’ and since 2008, successive investment from government, from Cycling City to Cycling Ambition Fund.
Bristol already spends upwards of £16 per person annually on cycling, and has done since 2008. However, the message from Bristol residents is clear – they want more.
Residents support improving the safety of riding a bike
Thanks to one of the biggest surveys in attitudes to cycling in the UK, we now know that 81% of residents support improving the safety of riding a bike – the highest for any type of transport in the city, and 70% would like to see more spent.
On average, 11,000 people questioned across the UK backed £26 per person to be spent on cycling annually, as part of the £300 per person currently spent on transport.
Speeding up the roll-out
As things stand, 89% of those who don’t currently cycle would be persuaded to start riding if protected bike lanes were provided - increasing the amount of money spent on cycling would speed up the roll-out.
Increasing spending would also see a greater return on investment – for every mile cycled instead of driven, 67p is the saving to individuals and the local economy.
So where to go from here?
Bristol has a golden opportunity to cement cycling as the default mode of transport for journeys under five miles, but to do so it needs to broaden its appeal for it to become a safe, attractive and convenient activity, where those aged 8-80 are able to ride.
Unfortunately we still have some way to go – currently only 31% of cycle journeys are made by women, and only 17% are from older age categories (55+).
In order to meet its aspirations for 20% of journeys to work made by bike by 2020 Bristol must do more, and do it faster.
However, it can’t do it alone. Bristol won’t be able to meet the aspirational £26 spending target on its own – it will need help from government. For too long, investment for cycling has meant short-term pots of money, that only last for a few years. Cycling funding, now more than ever before, needs to be strategic and secure to enable cities like Bristol to plan and invest to ensure the ambitious targets from the cycling strategy are met.