A national campaign to normalise cycling is celebrating the recent shift to pedal power from some of the UK’s major city dwellers, but warns more needs to be done by local authorities to make a lasting impact.
Digital billboards outlining the rise in cycling will be placed on roads in cities from Southampton up to Edinburgh imploring more people to take journeys by bike and urging local councils to facilitate safe everyday riding for its residents.
#BikeIsBest, the combined force of over 50 UK cycling brands and organisations, is using data from Strava Metro to show how people have changed their travel habits during lockdown. In Liverpool, cycling trips have increased 161% from May 2019 to May 2020, Manchester’s cycling trips are up 127%, while cities like London and Birmingham are up 54% and 55% respectively.
The campaign is using billboards to pass facts like these to the public. This is based on research that shows people value knowing their actions are normal and common. This part of the campaign is being informed by Dr Ian Walker, a psychologist from the University of Bath.
Strava Metro is a partner of #BikeIsBest. Millions of people upload their rides and runs to Strava every week via their smartphone or GPS device. Metro aggregates and de-identifies this data and then partners with departments of transportation and city planning groups to improve infrastructure for cycling.
Over 60 billboards in nine cities encourage the wider public to join the cycling revolution happening across the UK, while the digital billboards in Manchester directly address Manchester City Council. #BikeIsBest is echoing local campaigners’ frustrations at the council’s lack of action over temporary pop-up lanes and calling on the council to create more bike lanes that reflect and protect the influx of greener and more sustainable journeys.
Despite the promising increase in cycling trips across UK cities, campaign organiser Adam Tranter believes more needs to be done by local and national Governments to incentivise the wider public to shift their travel habits.
Tranter said: “Cities all over the United Kingdom are seeing data that shows a dramatic increase in cycling from when lockdown started. We have a unique opportunity to meet demand and change travel habits now. Our latest campaign creative is designed to show cycling as a normal, every day activity and showing that many others are already doing it. By using the latest Strava Metro data, we’re showing the time for change is now.”
“We know that many people want to cycle and for this we need both rapid and continued action in creating infrastructure for cycling. Cities are ripe for temporary and permanent infrastructure that can entice residents to hop out of their cars or make much-needed space on public transport.”
He added: “In the UK, two thirds (68%) of all journeys are under 5 miles, a distance that can be easily cycled by most people. I’ve been disappointed to see some local authorities not acting as quickly as is needed, and some reversing their measures after complaints from motorists. Adjusting the status quo will be hard but we have to provide people with an alternative; when traffic snarls up again, it’s our over-reliance on cars for short trips that is causing this, not road space reallocation which is providing a viable alternative to cycle and make changes.”
#BikeIsBest has been described as “the most extensive coordinated promotional campaign for cycling since the 1970s”. The campaign has received support from out of home advertising company Clear Channel who have donated space on digital sites nationwide. A 30-second version of the hero film will also be aired on TV, thanks to advertising support from Sky AdSmart.
A microsite has also been created to help educate potential new riders about the many benefits of cycling and help break down perceived barriers to getting on a bike. Utilising new and existing content from the 50 industry supporters, visitors can access a plethora of helpful tips and guides to support new riders in their journey towards more active travel.
More information can be found at www.bikeisbest.com.
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