77% of Brits support measures in their local area to encourage cycling and walking, YouGov research has shown.
The research also shows that 70% believe more people cycling would reduce traffic congestion across the country and 65% of all Britons ‒ rising to 80% of those with an opinion one way or the other ‒ want to see British roads redesigned and changed to protect cyclists and pedestrians from cars.
So far, 89 different local authorities have implemented a total of 503 temporary schemes that make more space for pedestrians and cyclists, according to Sustrans. However, vocal residents and pro-motoring groups have been successful in forcing some local authorities to perform U-turns on their initiatives to enable active travel, despite £250 million of funding and statutory guidance issued mandating them to make changes that challenge the status quo.
For example, in Reigate, Surrey, a pop-up cycle lane, due to be trialled for three weeks, lasted just three days after pressure from local MP Crispin Blunt MP. Other measures due in Ealing, Wandsworth, South Gloucestershire, Trafford, Portsmouth and Surrey have been reportedly cancelled.
Dr Ian Walker, environmental psychologist at the University of Bath, said: “Perhaps one reason negative voices find it so easy to sway things their way is that people have a tendency to misjudge public levels of support. The survey showed that, while most people think Britain would be a better place if more people cycled, they also guessed that other people were less supportive, and more hostile, to the idea than they were.”
The data showed that 3.26 people support the view that “Britain would be better if more people cycled” for every one person against. But when asked what they thought the opinion of their friends or the general public would be, many respondents “drastically overestimated” the negativity towards cycling.
The YouGov survey of 2,010 people also showed:
– 65% (rising to 79%, when people with no opinion are excluded) believe children should be able to play in the street without danger from cars cutting through
– 66% (rising to 83% of those with an opinion one way or the other) disagree that there is ‘nothing that can be done to stop people from being harmed by motor vehicles’
– Similarly, 71% (rising to 86% of those with an opinion) disagree that there is ‘nothing we can do to stop people being harmed by air pollution caused by motor vehicles’
– 33% ‒ and 35% of regular car commuters ‒ would use their car less if streets were designed to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe from motor traffic. These values rise to 47% and 46% when people with no opinion are put aside
– 10.6 people support local measures to encourage cycling and walking to each 1 opposed in the 18-24 age bracket, whereas in the 55+ bracket this falls to 4.56 people in favour to each one against
– 5.1 people think “Britain would be a better place if more people cycled” in the 18-24 age bracket, for every one person opposed
Adam Tranter, a spokesperson for #BikeIsBest and an active travel campaigner, said: “The small minority getting all revved up about their right to drive are having their voices heard through sheer volition. If the silent majority want to see this new, greener, better Britain, they need to act now or face going back to the old normal, with polluted and dangerous streets.
“When 20mph streets were first proposed, pro-motoring groups were whipped up into a frenzy, just as they are today. In 2017, data showed that the proportion opposed or strongly opposed to residential 20mph limits was just 10%. The same is happening here with measures to enable more people to switch their journeys to cycling and walking.”
He added: “No-one is saying that all journeys can be cycled or walked but many of our towns and cities are experiencing congestion – not because of cycle lanes but because of people using their car for short journeys, often under two miles. Local authorities need to stand up and refuse to be bullied into a U-turn on plans to turn Britain into a better place. These are plans the public agree with, so people also need to speak up so their silence isn’t taken as consent to keep our streets dominated by motor vehicles.”
To show local authorities the unmet demand for better cycling infrastructure, the #BikeIsBest campaign has set up an online petition for people to show their support for measures to enable cycling. The petition can be signed at https://www.bikeisbest.com/petition.
Read the July edition of BikeBiz below: