Census confirms London cycle commuting boom

In London the number of people cycling to work has more than doubled in 10 years, reveals Office for National Statistics.

New census data released by the Office for National Statistics today reveals that London’s bike commuting boom is real. However, the picture is patchy elsewhere in England and Wales. In London, the number of people cycling to work has more than doubled in ten years, up a whopping 144 percent (albeit on a low base campared to cities such as Amsterdam). Overall, cycling to work levels in England and Wales as a whole were unchanged, with a modal share of 2.8 in 2011, which is the same as in 2001.

Other cities experiencing higher levels of cycling to work were Brighton and Hove ( up by 109 percent), Bristol ( up by 94 percent), Manchester ( up by 83 percent) and Newcastle (up by 81 percent). In Wales, the most successful local authority was Cardiff which saw an increase of 65 percent.

Rachel Bromley, policy advisor for Sustrans, said:

“These new figures are telling of the haphazard approach of many authorities to get with the times and improve provision for the increasing number of people wanting to cycle to work.

“The public demand is there and many urban councils have made good progress in training and infrastructure as is shown by the outstanding urban cycling results. It shows when decision makers put their minds into increasing cycling, real progress can be made.

“Cycling is a silver bullet for Britain’s local transport needs through improving access, reducing congestion and tackling air pollution. The benefits to the individual are also huge as cycling is a great way to build physical activity into people’s daily routine.”

Bike Week event registration goes live

Event organisers can now register their events on new smartphone-friendly website.

Bike Week is an annual celebration of cycling, first held in 1923. The Bike Week website has been overhauled and is now smartphone- and tablet-friendly. Event registration is now open.

In previous years, Bike Week events – such as bike breakfasts, family rides and Dr. Bike sessions – have been organised by local authorities, health promotion units, bike-friendly employers and bike shops.

The 2014 Bike Week will be held 14th-22nd June.

Sustrans-developed “Personalised Travel Planning” goes Euro-wide

A Sustrans-developed programme to get people out of cars and to start using more sustainable methods of urban transport, and which was first trialled in Bristol, has been rolled out to five European cities, with 50 more expected to join in.

“Personalised travel planning” takes the form of promotions and one-on-one travel advice to show motorists that many of the journeys they think can only be done by car can, in fact, be easily done by bike, on foot or on public transport. Developed more than ten years ago by Sustrans, personalised travel planning can lead to an 11 percent reduction in car trips and increases in walking, cycling and public transport trips of between 15 and 33 percent. Sustrans found that many motorists don’t research travel alternatives but once they’re armed with information, many switch to the more sustainable forms of transport. Personalised travel planners do the legwork for motorists, pointing out bus stops and bus routes, bike route networks and walking short-cuts. Sustrans discovered that many motorists may have excellent bus services on their doorsteps, or direct cycle routes, but despite obvious proximity, motorists still didn’t know the services and routes existed.

Antwerp, which already has a cycle modal share of 25 percent, is one of the cities now working with PTP-Cycle – Personalised Travel Planning for Cycling – a project co-funded by the Intelligent Energy-Europe Programme granted by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI).

Steven Windey from Antwerp’s Department of Mobility, said:

“In the framework of the city’s “Masterplan 2020”, Antwerp wants to realise a modal split of 50/50 sustainable versus non sustainable transport modes by the year 2020. Hence the city is investing a lot in cycling infrastructure and parking facilities and infrastructure for public transport. At the same time, it’s very important to encourage citizens to use the new or improved infrastructure and facilities.”

PTP-Cycle is the first pan-European PTP Delivery Programme, and aims to transfer know-how to a larger audience of European cities. PTP-Cycle is targeting cities which already have a “high propensity to cycle” but where, nevertheless, cycle usage remains low. One of the methods used to get motorists out of their cars is the “cycle buddy” approach where a personalised travel planner will plan a cycle route for a motorist and then take the motorist on the ride to show how it’s nowhere near as daunting as the motorist might have feared. Personalised travel planning is expensive but effective.

PTP begins with personal contact, by telephone, on the doorstep, at work or via events, with the target population. This initial contact enables the target population to be ‘segmented’ into three main groups: existing regular users of sustainable travel modes; non-regular users who are interested in receiving information on alternatives to the car, and those who are not interested in taking part.

Participants in the interested group receive a PTP order form enabling them to choose from a range of local travel information materials and other services such as intensive one on one advice sessions, local bike maintenance sessions and led-rides.

Currently PTP-Cycle is working in Antwerp in Belgium; Riga in Latvia; Greenwich and Haringey in London; Burgos in Spain; and Ljubjana in Slovenia.

More cycling would save the NHS £250million per year, MPs to be told

Ahead of today’s evidence gathering session by the parliamentary transport select committee both British Cycling and CTC have released more copious evidence that increased levels of cycling would be beneficial to all.

British Cycling has commissioned new research that shows how spending more on cycling is highly cost-effective. If people young and old made just one in 10 trips by bike, Brits could gain the equivalent of almost one million extra healthy years of life over the next decade, British Cycling said. The organistion has launched a 10 point plan for how Britain can be transformed into a true cycling nation.

New research commissioned by British Cycling from Cambridge University shows that if people replaced just five minutes of the 36 minutes they spend each day in the car with cycling, there would be an almost 5 percent annual reduction in the health burden from inactivity-related illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancers.

If 10 percent of trips in England and Wales were made by bike, the savings to the NHS of the top inactivity related illnesses would be at least £250 million per year.

British Cycling’s new manifesto – Time to #ChooseCycling – will be launched later today at a reception in Parliament. It sets out what needs to happen to get Britain cycling at even a fraction of the levels seen in the Netherlands and Denmark.

British Cycling’s policy adviser and Olympic gold medallist, Chris Boardman, said:

“Britain is now one of the most successful cycling nations in the world. How can we be getting it so right in terms of elite success but still be failing to truly embed cycling as an everyday part of British culture? This research demonstrates that the impact of more cycling would have positive effects for everyone.

“In the 1970s, the Netherlands made a conscious choice to put people first and make cycling and walking their preferred means of transport. It is no coincidence that they are also one of the healthiest and happiest nations in the world. Local and national government needs to wake up and realise that cycling is the solution to so many of the major problems Britain is now facing.”

Dr James Woodcock, a senior researcher at Cambridge University’s Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), said:

“Cycling is a great way for people to embed physical activity in their everyday lives. If we can get people to stay active throughout their lives then it can make a huge difference to their health. To make cycling a mass activity in Britain, as it is in the Netherlands, is going to require both environments that make cyclists feel safe and a culture that says cycling is a normal way for people to get around – whatever their age. This research, based on scenarios for towns and cities in England and Wales, outside London, shows the potential for population health benefits from cycling.”

CTC is also calling for funding of at least £10 per person annually. Speaking prior to representing CTC at the transport select committee inquiry, CTC’s Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen said:

“Words are not enough to ‘Get Britain Cycling’. We need leadership, commitment to consistently high cycle-friendly design standards, and consistent funding of at least £10 per head annually to achieve these.

“The risks of cycling are lower than most people imagine – yet they are deterred from cycling in Britain due to fear. You are less likely to be killed in a mile of cycling than a mile of walking. If we are to maximise cycling’s health and other benefits, we must enable people to cycle in conditions that are as inviting as they are in countries like Denmark and the Netherlands. Britain now has 40 years of catching up to do; it is time for action.”

CTC’s evidence also calls for the following:

Targets which encourage more as well as safer cycling.

Lower speed limits. 20mph speed limits should become the norm for urban streets, with highway authorities having the freedom to identify appropriate exceptions. Zones of 40mph or lower limits should be widely introduced for rural lane networks.

Cycle-friendly design standards that allow cyclists of all ages and abilities to use roads and streets safely and comfortably, with particular attention paid to cyclists’ safety and priority at junctions where 75% of cyclists’ collision injuries occur.

Training and awareness campaigns to promote safety awareness among drivers and cyclists alike, with ‘Bikeability’ cycle training available for people of all ages.

Strengthened road traffic law and enforcement, with roads policing being given greater priority. Driving which causes obvious ‘danger’ should never be dismissed as merely ‘careless’ driving offences.

Improved lorry safety, through collaboration between the government, EU and industry, to deliver mandatory cycle awareness training, safer lorry designs and equipment and fewer lorries on busy streets.

Northampton to get a city bike scheme

Northampton is to install a bicycle hire scheme. The £150,000 scheme is initially providing 50 bikes for public hire from 10 docking sites inside and outside the borough.

The hire system is entirely automatic and the bicycles will be available to hire at any time of the day, seven days a week.Northamptonshire County Council, in partnership with Northampton Borough Council, appointed Hourbike as the winning bidder for the scheme.

Provision has been made in the contract with Hourbike to expand the scheme to further locations within the town, depending on the success of the scheme and revenue income from the hire process.

The company has experience of operating similar schemes in the UK, including in Dumfries, Nottingham, Lincoln and Southport. Hourbike also provided key assistance to Moscow’s bike hire scheme, which achieved 10,000 rentals in its first month.

Councillor Michael Clarke, county council cabinet member for transport, highways and environment, said: “This scheme is tremendous news for the town for a whole variety of reasons. Cycling is becoming increasingly popular as a mode of transport and we’re gradually improving the dedicated cycling infrastructure as funding allows.

“Not only is cycling beneficial in terms of health improvements but by getting more people cycling it helps reduce traffic congestion and associated air pollution.”

Councillor David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: “With cycle-hire proving to be popular in other areas of the country, we look forward to welcoming this scheme to Northampton for locals and visitors to enjoy. The scheme will be a great benefit to the town, attracting more people and encouraging them to get active. We hope that everyone will take advantage of this great facility.”

The County Council is offering residents of Northamptonshire the opportunity to come up with the official name for the bicycle hire scheme. The competition prize is an iPad mini and a VIP invitation to the official launch event in May.The name of the scheme will ideally be one-word long, and essentially catchy and memorable, giving a positive message and if possible a local connotation.

E-mail: CycleNorthants@mgwsp.co.uk

The competition closes on Wednesday 19th February 2014 and the winning entry will be judged by the Leaders of the County and Borough Councils.