The UK is pushing for bikes to have a much bigger role in everyday transport as the move towards zero-carbon transport picks up pace.
A new report from the Local Government Association suggests that bike travel will need to increase from the current 2% of all UK trips to between 6% and 8%.
"This is challenging but not impossible,” the report says. "Consistent investment and prioritisation have delivered a cycling mode share of over 25 per cent of all trips in some European cities.”
It is national policy in the UK for active transport to play a key role in carbon reduction, and local councils are backing it in, partly because increased bike riding will deliver on other public health, economic and quality of life objectives.
"Cities that have increased cycling have done this through major programmes; building new facilities for cyclists that make it feel safe to cycle, easy and secure to park bikes, and where it seems as normal to ride a bike as it does to drive a car”, the report states.
"To develop the cycling culture in the UK, widely perceived barriers to cycling must be addressed.
"Non-cyclists worry most about road safety (43 per cent), personal security (10 per cent) and the risk of bike theft (5 per cent).”
The report says there are three key actions that councils can take.
1. Provide safe and secure road space for cyclists
Among the suggestions are high quality infrastructure and the development of a dense network, rather than ad-hoc pieces of infrastructure, speed management, and proper routing of trucks.
2. Make key activities easy to reach
Direct connections to providing easy access to key destinations (education, employment, healthcare, leisure), with good permeability, secure bike parking, and integration with other transport modes.
3. Make cycling part of the local culture
Promotion and integration with activities in schools workplaces and town centres, with car free Sundays.
In addition to decarbonising transport, the report says there are many other valuable benefits which investing in cycling delivers for towns, cities, and rural areas, including better economic performance in commercial districts, health benefits through lower mortality, and safety, because better facilities get more people riding while reducing road trauma generally.
"Tripling or quadrupling cycling requires a step-change in how councils think about and deliver cycling improvements.
"What needs to be done is clear. There are examples across the world where places with low levels of cycling have been transformed.
"It requires commitment and an integrated approach to promote and mainstream cycling across all planning and policy."
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.