The Merseyside Transport Partnership (MTP) has recorded a 14 per cent rise in cycling levels over the past four years.
The number of trips made by bike rose for the second year in a row too, by 10 per cent between April 2009 and March 2010.
Improved cycle facilities, an enhanced network of cycle routes, training adults and children in cycle skills and bike maintenance, and raising awareness of the benefits have all played a part in the rise, according to the MTP. Those initiatives include:
Travelwise is MTPs’s targeted behavioural change and marketing programme, bringing free cycle training and bike maintenance and led rides to the public, as well as free cycle maps, advice and support.
Bikeability training has reached a 50,000 pupils across Merseyside schools since 2006. Merseyside’s Southport became a Cycling Town in 2008, where funding has been invested in projects developing a high quality cycle network and new cycle hire schemes.
Funding has been used to increase the cycle route network and enhance cycle facilities on trains and at schools. Supported by the European Regional Development Fund, Cycle Speke worked with the community to encourage more cycling. Manual cycle counts revealed an average increase of almost 60 per cent in recorded trips from October 2009 to September 2010. Finally, the Liverpool City Region Cycling Alliance launched when Liverpool NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Liverpool City Council formally agreed to commit to increase cycling levels in the city. The Alliance works with Merseyside Local Authorities and PCTs to work with the private sector, universities and cultural and sporting agencies to bring renewed commitment to cycling in the area.
Neil Scales, Chair of MTP, said: “Higher levels of children are classified as obese or overweight in Merseyside than elsewhere in England and Merseyside also has significantly higher levels of coronary heart disease and chronic liver disease than the rest of the country.
“Cycling is a very simple way of incorporating physical activity into people’s daily lives and can bring tremendous benefits to health as part of the 2010 Year of Health and Wellbeing. Increasing cycling levels in Merseyside will also help cut the area’s carbon output and benefit the economy, as goods and people are able to move smoothly around the transport network.
“In Merseyside, a high proportion of the journeys that people make each day are under five miles and can easily be made on bike. We aim to continue to invest in encouraging people to cycle more often and for a greater variety of trips and, as the consultation continues on our third Local Transport Plan (LTP3), there is a clear opportunity for us to continue to further increase cycling levels.
“With more than 50 members already signed up to the Liverpool City Region Cycling Alliance, I would like to thank these organisations for their ongoing efforts to increase cycling levels in Merseyside and would encourage others to get involved.”