In a new report from the Campaign for Better Transport, Nottingham and Manchester are, oddly, rated as better cycling cities than Cambridge.
The organisation’s Car Dependency Scorecard report used data from 17 different sources to rank the main 19 cities in England. A city’s cycle friendliness is one of the measurements used by the Campaign for Better Transport.
Nottingham is the least car-dependent city in England, closely followed by London and Brighton and Hove. The worst for dependency on the car are Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Luton.
The report is published as the Government considers massive cuts to local transport funding and is rumoured to be ready to abolish Cycling England, actions which could harm the ability of cities to reduce dependency on the car.
Ten years ago John Prescott launched Labour’s Transport 2010 strategy for transport which aimed to help local authorities to provide better and more integrated transport options. The Car Dependency Scorecard gives an indication of which local transport authorities have used the powers and funding effectively to improve transport in their city.
Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said:
“Our report shows that for many people, car use is not a matter of choice but is due to other options just not being available. Factors such as lack of local facilities, poor public transport or bad conditions for cyclists and pedestrians can mean that people are reliant on a car, with congestion and pollution the result.
“There have been improvements in many cities, but cuts in government spending could harm these. City authorities must make sure that they prioritise their remaining funding on sustainable forms of transport and ensure that planning policies protect local shops and services.”
The Car Dependency Scorecard said: “Walking and cycling have many benefits which should make them popular options. Journeys undertaken are free, convenient, carbon-neutral and healthy, but despite this they are still underrepresented in our transport plans. As almost a quarter of all our journeys are under a mile, these could easily be walked or cycled rather than driven.
“Our attitude to the bike could be changing. Positive results from the National Travel Survey show that people are starting to see cycling as a serious alternative. The number of miles cycled on average last year increased by 10 per cent and bike sales have risen by more than 25 per cent in the past three years.
“City size also seems to be influential with smaller cities having a tendency for higher cycling and walking participation. People could be put off walking or cycling by regular longer commutes. The results showed that Cambridge, Nottingham and Manchester were the cities where the options of walking and cycling were best.
The Campaign for Better Transport praised the work of Cycling England, which created Cycling Demonstration Towns:
“Cycling Demonstration Towns have achieved significant results by promoting the benefits of cycling. As well as helping uptake by improving facilities, investment in promoting the ease and benefits of walking and cycling is also key to getting people interested.”
Cambridge came third in the report’s best cities for cycling because of plans for a hugely expensive new road, which will increase car dependency in Cambridge, predicted the Campaign for Better Transport:
“Cambridge has positive levels of cycling, matching European cities, making sure that most people in the city can get about without a car. However, Highways Agency plans for the A14 Ellington to Fen Ditton, opposed by Cambridge City Council, would substantially increase traffic around the north of Cambridge, with a knock-on effect on walking and cycling levels.”
Campaign for Better Transport Ltd. is funded by bus companies, train operating companies, unions, councils and other such groups and organisations.