New report reveals 'large unmet demand' for cycling
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New report reveals 'large unmet demand' for cycling

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The transport sector is not doing enough to address the barriers that prevent people from Cycling – with those from ethnic minority groups and the disabled particularly affected by a lack of opportunities.

A new report by Sustrans and Arup, Cycling for Everyone, highlights inequalities within cycling participation in urban areas between different demographics, including those from black and minority ethnic (BAME) groups, women, disabled people, older people, and those at greater risk of deprivation.

According to the report, 74 per cent of people from BAME groups living in Sustrans' 12 Bike Life cities and towns do not currently cycle.

Despite low participation levels, the report found 55 per cent of people from ethnic minority groups who do not currently cycle would like to start. This compares to 37 per cent among people who identified themselves as white.

Among the barriers preventing those from BAME backgrounds include a lack of confidence, security, as well as the financial outlay of purchasing a cycle.

In order to address these barriers, the report highlights recommendations which aim to help to work towards reducing inequalities within cycling.

Key recommendations highlighted in the report include an extension of the UK Government’s Cycle to Work Scheme to include those in low-income jobs, as well as support to those not in employment, to ensure that cost is not a barrier for anyone looking to purchase a cycle.

The report also urges the need for improvements in secure cycle storage in residential areas, and particularly for flats and high-rise buildings where storing a cycle inside may prove challenging.

To improve confidence free cycle training needs to be provided to all children and adults, and cycling infrastructure expanded to reach areas where transport options are poor and high traffic levels exist.

According to Daisy Narayanan, director of urbanism at Sustrans, the report will act as a guide for those working – and making decisions – on cycling across the UK to ensure cycling is inclusive and helps address wider inequity within cities and towns.

“This report brings to light that for too long, the needs of so many have been ignored within cycle planning and development," said Narayanan.

“In order to work towards real change and make cycling more inclusive, we call upon the industry, local authorities and central government to welcome and support all people to cycle.

"It is only when we move away from exclusively designing towns and cities for those who already have access to move through spaces with ease, can we really create equitable places to live and work”.

The report's publication coincides with Sustrans overhauling its National Cycle Network to make it more accessible and provide a "consistent user experience".

Among the chances has been the removal of around 4.5 per cent of the Network entirely, which comprised of 753 miles of busy on-road sections and deemed as "falling too far short of the quality standards Sustrans aspires to".

Additionally, the Network's ‘Named Routes’ – including the iconic Caledonia Way, C2C (also known as Sea to Sea) and Hadrian’s Cycle Route – which make use of 18.6 per cent of the Network (3,090 miles) has been reclassified as "better suited for experienced users".

Meanwhile, a total of 12,763 miles on the Network has now been mapped and promoted for families, disabled people, people with long-term health conditions and those new to cycling.

According to Sustrans, the changes are part of a long-term, UK-wide plan for the National Cycle Network which will double the miles of traffic-free routes from 5,000 to 10,000.

"The move to differentiate paths and routes will help us offer more targeted and relevant information on the paths for everyone choosing to walk, cycle and wheel," said Xavier Brice, Sustrans CEO.

• To read the Cycling for Everyone, by Sustrans and Arup, click here.

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The transport sector is not doing enough to address the barriers that prevent people from cycling – with those from ethnic minority groups and the disabled particularly affected by a lack of opportunities.
Les Mills
Les Mills