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'Not enough' walking and cycling in Wales, study finds

60% of people in Wales own a bike, but only 6% use it on a weekly basis - mostly to go to shops

Not enough people living in Wales are using their own steam to get around, with only three per cent of people cycling to work, and a third of people barely even walking at all.

Only 17% of people walk to work, according to a Statistics for Wales study, a finding that has spurred on ministers who recently passed a bill to encourage more "active travel" through £12m of funding for new travel routes and local travel plans.

The Welsh government said in a statement: "The fact that not enough people are cycling and walking is the reason we are introducing the Active Travel Act".

Three per cent of people currently use a train and six per cent a bus as part of their journey to work.

While 60 per cent of people own a bike, only six per cent travel by bike at least once a week.

A paltry one per cent of pupils ride to secondary school.

The main reason given for riding a bike is travelling to local shops on small errands, at 24 per cent.

Conversely,  77 per cent use their car for travelling to work, 30 per cent typically drive to schools and college and 48 per cent to get to the local pub or cafe.

Matt Hemsley, policy adviser for transport charity Sustrans Cymru, told the BBC: "The biggest problem is the fear of traffic and the speed of traffic.

"People enjoy cycling for leisure and will put a bike on the back of the car and drive out at weekends but not for work.

"For the price of a couple of miles of new motorway you could make a transformative difference by creating safe cycle routes - ideally segregated from traffic.

"We also need to cut the speed. There's also no town or city in Wales which is completely 20mph for residential areas."

Late last year the ground-breaking Active Travel Bill was passed by members of the Welsh Assembly at the Senedd in Cardiff.

The Bill creates a legal duty on local authorities to develop and maintain an integrated network of cycling and walking routes.

In its Get Britain Cycling report, the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group held the Active Travel Bill up as a model that the rest of the UK could follow in encouraging more people to take to their bikes.

Besides making it easier for people, whether on foot or bicycle, to travel between workplaces, hospitals, schools and shops using traffic-free routes or cycle lanes, it also aims to improve the nation’s health by reducing car dependency and encouraging them to get active.

Minister for Culture and Sport John Griffiths, responsible among other things for the promotion of walking and cycling, including the Active Travel Bill, tabled a number of amendments that are aimed at improving the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, including:

    • A duty to promote active travel and to report annually on the activity undertaken

    • A requirement on local authorities to report on their progress on the network, level of usage and associated costs

    • A requirement on Welsh Ministers to report annually on levels of active travel

    • A requirement on highways authorities to take into account the needs of walkers and cyclists when carrying out certain key functions under various highways acts, such as road works.

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rogermerriman | 9 years ago

Its not surprising really, wales doesn't have anything like the scale of traffic problems that say England does, large areas are rural, the main bulk of the population is in or around the Welsh valleys narrow steep sided that run down to Cardiff/Newport/Swansea. Public transport is slow, had a few more train lines but in but even so.

So in that context the car makes much more sense.

I have seen a few new shared paths etc, around but very few commuters, lots of leisure cyclist though.

bendertherobot | 9 years ago

Cycling is fine here. I do 40 miles a day most weekdays of the year. It's more about getting out of your warm car than traffic issues per se. Of course there are incidents, but they are few and far between. Plus, for anyone living, for example, within 10 miles of Cardiff, there are so many options.

What's not been widely reported here is that "only 17%" is, if I recall correctly, up from only 10% 3 years ago. That's a pretty massive increase. Not as a result of this Act, yet. But, give it time.

I'd prefer there to be a duty on local authorities to ensure that walking/cycling provision is, a) physically increased and b) given equal priority rather than simply a duty to have regard to. Arguably if there were to be, say, a new road, then that new road must have provision.

cyclingdave70 | 9 years ago

Have you seen some of the "drivers" in Wales, not suppressed that no one cycles, especially in the narrow "valleys"

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