Cycling for Everyone, a new report by Sustrans and Arup highlights inequalities within cycling participation in urban areas between different demographics, including those from ethnic minority groups, women, disabled people, older people, and those at greater risk of deprivation.
What does the report tell us?
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to light many disparities within society.
The recognition from our Prime Minister that obesity can increase the risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 has prompted a new Government Obesity Strategy.
Cycling has proved its worth during the pandemic, as a safe and socially distanced way for people to get exercise and as a means to travel to work and for other essential journeys.
However, 74% of people from ethnic minority groups living in our 12 Bike Life cities and towns do not currently cycle.
Despite low participation levels, the report found 55% of people from ethnic minority groups who do not currently cycle would like to start.
This compares to 37% of White people.
Transport isn't doing enough to address barriers for these groups
This report finds that the transport sector is not doing enough to address the barriers people from ethnic minority groups and other disadvantaged communities face.
Tackling safety, through protected cycle lanes and low-traffic neighbourhoods, is critical.
However, the report highlights a lack of confidence, security, as well as the financial outlay of purchasing a cycle as being some of the barriers that are more likely to prevent those from ethnic minority groups and other disadvantaged communities from cycling.
- a third (33%) of people from ethnic minority groups were not confident in their cycling skills
- 25% of people from ethnic minority groups stated that a lack of facilities at home or work (e.g. secure cycle storage) was a barrier to cycling
- 20% of people from ethnic minority groups stated the cost of a suitable cycle stopped them from cycling.
What needs to be done?
In order to address these barriers, the report highlights recommendations which aim to help to work towards reducing inequalities within cycling.
While challenges exist between different demographic groups, including between different ethnic minority groups, the report finds many of the barriers to increasing diversity in cycling are shared.
Key recommendations highlighted in the report include an extension of the UK Government’s Cycle to Work Scheme to include those in low-income jobs, as well as support to those not in employment, to ensure that cost is not a barrier for anyone looking to purchase a cycle.
The report also urges the need for improvements in secure cycle storage in residential areas, and particularly for flats and high-rise buildings where storing a cycle inside may prove challenging.
To improve confidence free cycle training needs to be provided to all children and adults, and cycling infrastructure expanded to reach areas where transport options are poor and high traffic levels exist.
We must welcome and support all people to cycle
Daisy Narayanan, Director of Urbanism at Sustrans said:
“This report brings to light that for too long, the needs of so many have been ignored within cycle planning and development.
“In order to work towards real change and make cycling more inclusive, we call upon the industry, local authorities and central government to welcome and support all people to cycle.
"It is only when we move away from exclusively designing towns and cities for those who already have access to move through spaces with ease, can we really create equitable places to live and work”.
We need to start designing cycling for everyone
Susan Claris, Global Active Travel Leader, Arup said:
“The health, wellbeing and social benefits of cycling in our towns and cities are clear.
"But these benefits are not equally felt by everyone, and we need to do more to ensure that cycling truly is accessible for all.
“This guidance supports a move away from designing cities for people who already cycle, or have power and privilege.
"Instead, we need to use our collective skills, expertise and ambition as a sector to start designing cycling for everyone.”
Challenging the transport sector to do more
Jools Walker, Author of 'Back in the Frame' and cycling blogger said:
“If widening participation and improving planning for more marginalised groups to get into cycling is a goal, then all of these voices need to be given the platform to be heard, ensuring that the decisions made are rounded, informed and of course, genuinely representative.
“There has to be a significant shake-up within this sector if we're going to change it.
"It's a huge step to admit that you've 'got it wrong' in the past, but I challenge the transport sector to do more.”