Cycling still seen as the preserve of those in lycraShareThis
Cycling is still seen negatively by the majority of the population, according to the preliminary findings of a new study into cycling in English towns.
Presented at the Building Cycling Cultures conference in Leicester this past Saturday (June 5), the Understanding Walking and Cycling study finds that the appeal of cycling only appears to move a small proportion of the population.
The rest of the population barley recognises the bicycle as a mode of transport, explained David Horton of Lancaster Universtiy, one of the study’s leading researchers, who gave the Guardian newspaper a preview of the study’s interim findings.
“Many people barely recognise the bicycle as a legitimate mode of transport; it is either a toy for children or a vehicle fit only for the poor and/or strange,” Mr Horton said.
“For them, cycling is a bit embarrassing, they fail to see its purpose, and have no interest in integrating it into their lives, certainly on a regular basis.”
Those who do take up cycling tend to be quickly put off due to lack of cycling infrastructure, according to Mr Horton, and do not see cycling as part of their everyday travel options.
The study suggests that cycling promotion only reaches the part of the population that already cycles regularly and who do not really need that much convincing.
Call for segregated cycle lanes
In order to push cycling to move from its marginal status towards a mass phenomenon, the study says that only segregated cycle lanes will create a mass cycling culture in England.
The Understanding Walking and Cycling study is a three-year project that involves the Lancaster, Oxford Brookes and Leeds universities. The study looks at transport decisions in relation to everyday short trips made by households and individuals in Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester and Worcester.
One of the aims of the study is to develop a ‘toolkit’ to help planners and policy makers develop transport policies that relate more closely to the everyday travel behaviour of individuals, and in turn help promote walking and cycling.