Bike Life, the UK’s biggest assessment of cycling in cities, has revealed that four out of five people in Belfast (81%) want more protected bike routes to make cycling safer, even when this could mean less space for other road traffic.
Almost three-quarters of Belfast residents surveyed support more investment in cycling, with 71% saying Belfast would be a better place to live and work if more people cycled.
Overall Belfast residents understand more space for cycling alongside walking and public transport instead of additional space for cars can benefit congestion, air quality and health. Bikes currently take nearly 7,000 cars off Belfast roads daily. Parking all these cars would take up the space of almost eight City Hall grounds and if all these cars were in a traffic jam this would equate to 21 miles – the distance from Belfast to Craigavon (as the crow flies).
Belfast is one of seven UK cities taking part in the Bike Life project which reports every two years on cycle infrastructure provision, travel habits, attitudes towards cycling, and the impact of cycling more widely.
Belfast Bike Life 2017 is produced by Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity, in partnership with the Department for Infrastructure.
“ I’m delighted to help launch the Bike Life report for Belfast 2017, which is part of the biggest assessment of cycling in cities in the UK. It is fantastic that Belfast is one of the 7 UK cities taking part in this project which provides us with important analysis of cycling and helps us to improve infrastructure and the conditions to make travelling by bike possible for more of us. ”
This year’s report reveals that out of the 1,100 people surveyed in Belfast, 65% would cycle more if protected on-road cycle routes were created – these are usually physically separated from both motor traffic and pedestrians with kerbs and bollards. In fact people who said they never ride a bike still overwhelmingly support the provision of protected routes (79%) even when this could mean less space for other traffic.
The report found there are 53 miles of routes protected from vehicles in Belfast, an increase of three miles from 2015. Only 30% of people think cycling safety in Belfast is good but as many as 54% said they would like to start riding a bike or could cycle more.
Belfast Lord Mayor, Nuala McAllister who is helping to launch the report said:
“I’m delighted to help launch the Bike Life report for Belfast 2017, which is part of the biggest assessment of cycling in cities in the UK. It is fantastic that Belfast is one of the 7 UK cities taking part in this project which provides us with important analysis of cycling and helps us to improve infrastructure and the conditions to make travelling by bike possible for more of us.
“The report shows we still have a long way to go to increase the number of people cycling in Belfast, to make it a really bike-friendly city but Belfast’s first Bike Share Scheme has really helped promote cycling and normalise it as a way of travelling in our city. Around half a million journeys have been made on Belfast Bikes to date, with 400,000km cycled (the distance to the moon!),” added the Mayor.
Gordon Clarke, Sustrans Northern Ireland Director said:
“Bike Life shows that most people in Belfast 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.”
Peter May, Permanent Secretary of the Department for Infrastructure said:
“An increase in the number of people walking and cycling is one of the important elements contained in the draft Programme for Government. This report has gathered some key data that will help guide the ongoing development and operation of the bicycle infrastructure and associated engagement programmes over the coming years.
“It sets out what we have improved and also highlights the things we need to focus on to give people the freedom and confidence to travel by bicycle for their everyday journeys.”
Mary Black, Assistant Director of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement with the Public Health Agency (PHA), said:
“Physical activity is a great way to improve your health. Recent research by the University of Glasgow, published in the British Medical Journal, found that commuters who cycled were associated with a 41% lower risk of premature death.
“Being more physically active can reduce your risk of developing chronic conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, respiratory conditions and dementia. It also improves sleep, helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces stress and anxiety.”
Key statistics Belfast Bike Life 2017
- £16 million is the total annual benefit to Belfast from people riding bikes for transport and leisure.
- 6.7 million trips made by bike in Belfast in past year
- 5% of Belfast residents usually cycle to and from work
- Bicycles take up to 6,939 cars off Belfast’s roads each day, equal to a 21-mile tailback
- People cycling in Belfast saves the NHS £392,000 annually, equivalent to the cost of 17 nurses’ salaries.
For more information, interviews, case studies and photos contact: Anne Madden, Sustrans on 028 90434569 or 07826 556416 [email protected]