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"If you want more groups to cycle, you can't just build more cycle paths": Researcher behind study into attitudes towards cycling suggests "range of needs and preferences" must be considered

"Those who need assistance to go out should perhaps be offered help. You may be able to afford to buy an electric bike, but you also need to feel that it's safe to cycle. There is a range of needs and preferences to consider."...

A researcher from Malmö University who studied attitudes towards cycling has suggested that building more cycle paths is just one part of encouraging more people to cycle and that there is "a range of needs and preferences to consider".

Zahra Hamidi published her work 'Examining Inequalities in Cycling Motility: A Pathway Towards Cycling Justice' with Malmö University Publications, in which she aimed to inform policies to promote cycling by "providing insights into what could make cycling achievable for more diverse social groups through engaging with theoretical perspectives from transport geography, the mobilities paradigm and social justice".

Speaking to Phys.Org Hamidi explained her view that building more cycle lanes is just one part of the equation to get more people cycling, but it is not sufficient on its own to achieve that goal.

"If you want more groups to cycle, you can't just build more cycle paths," she said about her research, which included examining attitudes towards cycling via a survey of a representative sample of 1,145 people in Gothenburg and Malmö.

> New research finds commuting by bike can improve mental health, with those who cycle to work less likely to be prescribed antidepressants

By noting responses on the availability of different forms of transport in households, travel habits, attitudes towards cycling and considerations of safety, Hamidi also looked into factors which may define an individual's potential to cycle, such as bicycle access, ability and knowledge of cycling, if their self-image fits cycling, and whether their social group has a positive image of cycling.

It is these factors, accessibility, knowledge and attitudes which Hamidi suggests determines whether people cycle or choose alternative modes of transport, and therefore she concludes, "If you want more groups to cycle, you can't just build more cycle paths".

Cyclists and pedestrians in Castle Park, Bristol (image: Adwitiya Pal)

"The study shows that higher income is linked to higher potential for cycling. For example, you need a smartphone to locate app-managed municipal bicycle docking stations," she said, while adding that older people's potential for cycling is often impacted by them finding bicycles less suitable for their needs and abilities, potentially suggesting the potential benefits of more widespread use of electric bikes.

"Cyclists are not a homogenous group, and today there are many types of bikes that can make cycling easier for people with different abilities," she said. "It therefore needs to be recognised that there is a range of needs and preferences among cyclists. Those who need assistance to go out should perhaps be offered help. You may be able to afford to buy an electric bike, but you also need to feel that it's safe to cycle. There is a range of needs and preferences to consider."

> Cyclists wearing helmets seen as "less human" than those without, researchers find

In May, we reported a study from Australia which concluded that cycling infrastructure should be built with women in mind and that it is "about planning for the trips that aren't taken as well as those that are".

"Gender differences were stark in terms of the barriers,"  Dr Lauren Pearson said. "We were really surprised at just how substantial these differences were, and how many women were reporting these concerns."

Having surveyed 717 women across 10 Melbourne areas, Dr Pearson was able to assess the factors preventing more women from cycling, research that showed 77 per cent of women are interested in riding a bike, suggesting "massive potential" for enabling active travel further.

Pop-up cycle lane on Park Lane (copyright Simon MacMichael)

One such suggestion that came from the survey was segregation, the study noting that physical separation from motor traffic "may support more women to ride a bike through reducing motor vehicle interactions", something many said they lacked confidence with.

Compared to men the survey showed that the women were less comfortable with the idea of cycling near traffic, and would be encouraged by segregated cycle lanes. Nearly half of the women surveyed said well-lit areas are an enabler of them cycling.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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39 comments

Avatar
wtjs | 2 months ago
1 like

There aren't many cyclists or cycle lanes in North Lancashire, for obvious reasons. Cycle lanes do exist in Preston, but are not very controversial as they're universally ignored by drivers and the police

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Wheelywheelygood | 2 months ago
1 like

Before we waste any more money  ,there needs to be a lot of improvement in bike riding , compulsory tests,  with mots  on bikes , compulsory proper lighting ,insurance, number plates enforced riding in cycle lanes and observation of all road rules with fines to pay for new lanes 

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Browsie replied to Wheelywheelygood | 2 months ago
4 likes

I've suspected for some time that you are a complete and utter twat , now my suspicions.have finally been confirmed, many thanks!

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perce replied to Wheelywheelygood | 2 months ago
3 likes

Aw bless. My wife and I usually go to our local M&S cafe once a week for a bite to eat, usually Wednesday but sometimes Thursday. I usually have a halloumi and falafel wrap and my wife has a fruit scone. It's a simple pleasure but one we look forward to. Well, we turned up last week only to find they have changed the menu - no halloumi/falafel wrap. I was so disappointed. I couldn't find anything on the new menu I liked so I ended up having a fruit scone like my wife. We both had a coffee as well. It was pleasant enough but not the same. I had an Americano and my wife had a Mocha. Do you have any disappointing cafe related stories to tell?

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chrisonabike replied to perce | 2 months ago
1 like

I once went to a cafe in Dundee for fruitcake but they were out of their eponymous product. Worse - on the way back we tried Abernethy but they didn't have any of their biscuits either.

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perce replied to chrisonabike | 2 months ago
1 like

I feel your pain. I forgot to mention I used to have chips with my halloumi/falafel wrap. Can't really do that with a fruit scone, it just seems wrong somehow.

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chrisonabike replied to perce | 2 months ago
1 like

Cheese with your fruit scone though - or even more so with rich fruitcake? I always keep some handy for visits to road.cc

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Hirsute replied to perce | 2 months ago
3 likes

Have you tried halloumi chips instead ?

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perce replied to Hirsute | 2 months ago
0 likes

I like your thinking .Very nice indeed.

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wycombewheeler | 2 months ago
1 like

experience in London suggests a very different picture, all sorts of people cycle commute there now since they have put in a network of good cycle lanes.

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polainm replied to wycombewheeler | 2 months ago
0 likes

...my experience of London moved me to Cambridge. I think it might have been something to do with dangerous angry taxi drivers and blind cement mixer/skip lorry drivers. 

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wtjs replied to polainm | 2 months ago
3 likes

it might have been something to do with dangerous angry taxi drivers and blind cement mixer/skip lorry drivers

This is outrageous prejudice and bias! Don't the blind, aggressive and incompetent also have the right to drive?

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chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 2 months ago
1 like

wycombewheeler wrote:

experience in London suggests a very different picture, all sorts of people cycle commute there now since they have put in a network of good cycle lanes.

Can't be as simple as that!  It must be due to better driving or changed societal attitudes or awareness campaigns or more diverse representation or the weather being better or cyclists wearing less sporty clothing or people suddenly not needing to travel so far or people not having enough money to travel any other (better!) way...

(Sorry, feeling better now.  Of course it takes a mix of things to encourage cycling but while possibly not completely sufficient a network of good quality infra / routes would appear to be necessary).

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wtjs | 2 months ago
6 likes

Troll alert.

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davie977 | 2 months ago
0 likes

In the UK people live too far from workplaces,shops and recreation facilities for cycling to be viable for anything other than a hobby. Add in the weather,physical attributes and terrain and it's hard to see anything enjoyable in it as a hobby.

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chrisonabike replied to davie977 | 2 months ago
12 likes

That's true, some people live more than 200m from the shops.  And some people won't get on a bicycle (/ tricycle / use a wheelchair or mobility vehicle) any more than they'd eat sprouts.

You won't want to be wanting to have a look at the UK National Travel Survey or an analysis of an earlier one I imagine.  But it should be of interest to someone sensible making those arguments.  And some further reading around your throwaway lines here, here, here and possibly here.

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Jitensha Oni replied to chrisonabike | 2 months ago
5 likes

Childhood experience of some (such as Davie?) may dictate adult perceptions of distance.

Also, multimodal travel is often underplayed.

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chrisonabike replied to Jitensha Oni | 2 months ago
1 like

Jitensha Oni wrote:

Childhood experience of some (such as Davie?) may dictate adult perceptions of distance.

Also, multimodal travel is often underplayed.

Very interesting - yes, other self-reinforcing cycles there eg. 'my parents tend to drive me more so then certain distances / types of trips are seen as "requiring a car" '.

Of course multi-modal has more points of possible failure.  This is very obvious in the UK.  Especially when compared to the normal "competition" e.g. driving - which is very often effectively door to door.

Trying to take a journey involving public transport you could find that there *is* no useful public transport, or there is but it seems wildly expensive, or it's completely unreliable, or it doesn't reach one or both ends of the journey.  If you have a bus + train - double that.  If using a bike you may find there's nowhere safe to store a bike, or find your bike gone when you arrive.  Taking your bike with you may not be allowed / there may not be space.

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brooksby replied to davie977 | 2 months ago
11 likes

davie977 wrote:

In the UK people live too far from workplaces,shops and recreation facilities for cycling to be viable for anything other than a hobby. Add in the weather,physical attributes and terrain and it's hard to see anything enjoyable in it as a hobby.

I'd always assumed that I was commuting (I live six miles from my office and ride to get from one to t'other) but you're now telling me that I am mistaken? Huh.  You live and learn… 

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Hirsute replied to brooksby | 2 months ago
2 likes

Obviously you are doing it as a penance for various sins committed.

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neilmck replied to davie977 | 2 months ago
6 likes

My office is 25km away and I cycle there and back everyday (quicker than by car or train). I have a colleague who lives 35km away and he does the same. So, stop the embarrassing excuses, either you want to cycle to work or you don't. There is no need to justify not enjoying cycling, if you don't enjoy it, fine. (Saying that, a lot of people who do not enjoy cycling really enjoy electric bikes)

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wtjs replied to neilmck | 2 months ago
3 likes

Saying that, a lot of people who do not enjoy cycling really enjoy electric bikes

Can't argue with that. E-biking is better than driving- you're moving a lot less metal around, for a start

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Rendel Harris replied to wtjs | 2 months ago
2 likes

wtjs wrote:

Saying that, a lot of people who do not enjoy cycling really enjoy electric bikes

Can't argue with that. E-biking is better than driving- you're moving a lot less metal around, for a start

And a lot of people who absolutely love cycling also enjoy electric bikes.

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Hirsute replied to davie977 | 2 months ago
4 likes

People live too far from shops ???
Are you on some remote Scottish island?

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chrisonabike replied to Hirsute | 2 months ago
0 likes

You can't get there from Twitter - you have to somehow get to another site (possibly one of the food delivery sites...)?

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Daveyraveygravey replied to davie977 | 2 months ago
2 likes

davie977 wrote:

In the UK people live too far from workplaces,shops and recreation facilities for cycling to be viable for anything other than a hobby. Add in the weather,physical attributes and terrain and it's hard to see anything enjoyable in it as a hobby.

WTF?  "In the UK SOME people live too far...etc".  There, fixed it for you.

You should Google "percentage of trips by car less than 5 miles" and "...less than one mile".  You might learn a thing or two.

I split my journies to work by car and bike.  It's only 5 miles by car, but that is a terrible road to cycle on.  So when I commute on my road bike...I actually go further!  And I even enjoy it more!  OMG?  Maybe you are wrong?

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Wheelywheelygood replied to davie977 | 2 months ago
0 likes

You are right about the weather ,when going to  work in freezing weather i saw a cyclist come out from a side road he made no effort to brake and took the turn far to fast for the road conditions lost control ,he and the bike parted and slid right across the road , fortunately all the cars were driving for the conditions and all were able to stop . Yet another example of I'm on a bike I'm alright jack put others at risk of harm and got away with it 

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mark1a replied to Wheelywheelygood | 2 months ago
2 likes

Didn't happen.

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Sriracha | 2 months ago
2 likes
Quote:

For example, you need a smartphone ...

Hmm. It's my observation that all but the destitute tend to have a smartphone - I don't think the want of one is a significant barrier to cycling. If anything, there is a perception that cycling is the poor man's (woman's) transport, to be cast aside as soon as they can afford a car, as exemplified:

Quote:

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do
I'm half crazy all for the love of you
It won't be a stylish marriage
I can't afford a carriage
But you'll look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two

Indeed, the prevailing attitude is that cycling is somehow not a valid repectable means of transport. It is a diversion for the wealthy, or a stop-gap for the impoverished, or an idiosyncrasy for the misfits and failures.

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neilmck replied to Sriracha | 2 months ago
0 likes

That does depend where you live. Here in Paris, now that cycling to work has become popular, it is seen as a middle-class thing. The arguement given is that you have to have the time available to cycle (even though cycling around Parisian region is quicker than by car).

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