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Cycling increasing in the UK but still behind pandemic levels, says government

Data shows 11% more cycling levels over pre-pandemic numbers and 23% more since 2013, with traffic levels also decreasing

The UK Government has released the results of its survey which shows that cycling levels across the UK are 11 per cent higher than they were in 2019 before the pandemic, and increased by 24 per cent in the last decade, but have fallen since during the peak of the pandemic.

This first of its kind data was released by the Department of Transport (DfT) today in its annual Cycling Index, produced from DfT’s automatic traffic cycle counters (ATCs). The rolling index has December 2013’s cycling usage as a baseline 100, as consistent data since then is available.

The year ending 2022 received an index of 123.7, while December 2019 had a score of 111.3. In contrast, the highest score on the index was reached in March 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic with a 163.

DfT said that longer-term trends, thus, show that cycling levels have been increasing, although December 2022’s index was 24 per cent behind March 2021. In contrast, the difference between December 2022 and December 2021 was minimal, with a 3.2 per cent decrease.

Olympian and National Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman said: “It’s great to see cycling in this country riding high at 11 per cent above pre-pandemic levels. The movement for moving is catching on as more of us choose to ride bikes for everyday trips, putting the joy back into journeys. This is great for our health, it’s free transport and it helps us to be more connected to our communities. Everyone's a winner.”

“A backward move” – Government slashes active travel budget for England

The report also showed that motor traffic levels have decreased by 4.9% between December 2019 and September 2022. However, the data was in contrast to the Society of Motor Manufacturer’s and Traders recent results that the number of vehicles on UK roads had grown by 0.5% to reach record 40.7 million, with car ownership rising for first time since 2019.

DfT Cycling Index 2022

DfT Cycling Index 2022

Last week, we had reported that the UK Government revealed that more people than ever were now walking and cycling due to the cost of living crisis. The Active Travel England-supported survey found that 3.2 million more people were using active travel as a form of transport, with 20 per cent of all adult activity comprising of it.

Despite the interest in switching towards cycling and other active travel modes clearly there, there have been many claims that the UK Government is not doing enough to boost the modal shift.

In March, Transport Secretary Mark Harper had announced a £200 million, or two-thirds cut to the active travel budget in England outside London, which was described as “devastating” by Sustrans and “a backward move” by the Walking & Cycling Alliance (WACA), making it “impossible” to meet net zero and cycling and walking targets.

> More people than ever now regularly cycling and walking due to the cost of living crisis, reveals survey

WACA said in an announcement that these cuts were “disproportionate compared to those for road and rail and will leave England lagging far behind other UK nations and London”.

“It is heart-breaking to see vital active travel budgets wiped away in England, at the exact time when they are most essential to UK economic, social and environmental prospects,” said WACA. “Representing a two-thirds cut to promised capital investment in walking, cycling and wheeling, these cuts are a backward move for active travel and will counteract the tremendous progress we’ve seen in recent years.”

Last week, calls for “consistent” funding to cycling and walking were also made at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling and Walking's (APPGCW) 2023 showcase event.

Ruth Cadbury, Labour MP and co-chair of the cross-party group, speaking at the event noted the clear benefits cycling infrastructure in her constituency, and stressed the importance of it being funded “properly and sustainably”. She also said the APPGCW was “disappointed” to learn of a cut to the active travel budget in last month's Spring Budget.

Adwitiya joined in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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eburtthebike | 1 year ago
1 like

11% increase may be good news, but not exactly overwhelming, and it's pretty clear that the government won't be getting anwywhere near their targets.  From the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy 2, updated 10 March 2023:

"It’s one of the best return on investment decisions governments can make, which is why this government has committed an unprecedented £2 billion of funding for active travel over 5 years. Our aim is similarly ambitious – 50% of all journeys in towns and cities should be walked or cycled by 2030."

Say one thing, do the opposite: not enough profit in it for the tories and their backers.

the little onion | 1 year ago

I'd like to see a regional breakdown of this - London versus other cities versus smaller towns

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