Third of people could ditch cars in favour of cycling or walking post Covid-19 crisis, finds Cycling UK

More than a third of people in the UK said they could ditch their cars in favour of cycling or walking after the Covid crisis, a new study by Cycling UK has revealed.

The findings, which were revealed in a poll carried out by YouGov on behalf of the cycling charity, also showed that just under one in 10 people in the UK are cycling more during the crisis.

And looking towards a post-lockdown era, 36% of people questioned agreed they could rethink their travel habits in the future to use cars and motor vehicles less.

For this to happen though survey respondents wanted to see several measures implemented surrounding, predictably, infrastructure and safety.

More than two thirds of those questioned wanted to see traffic-free cycle tracks and paths along high streets and within town centres, while over half of people called for more designated cycle lanes on roads.

A third of respondents want to see traffic restrictions in residential streets, and 24% would like the speed limit reduced to 20mph in residential and built up areas.

“Our poll shows clearly that people are prepared to rethink their travel habits, using their cars less and cycling more, but only if they feel safe to do so,” said Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Head of Campaigns. “The Prime Minister said this should be the golden age for cycling, while the Transport Secretary announced major funding to encourage more people to cycle as an alternative to public transport.

“But, encouragement is not enough. If the roads don’t look and feel safe to cycle, only the brace will choose to do so. If there’s space for people to cycle separated from motor vehicles, millions more will do it.”

Cycling UK has been campaigning for local authorities to install pop-up cycle lanes and widen pavements to create the space for people to walk and cycle safely, while social distancing during the pandemic.

“Money has been made available for them to do this in England and Scotland, and has been promised in Wales, with every government in the UK sending a clear message that more people cycling and walking is fundamental to the exit strategy from this crisis and central to how we do things differently in the future,” Dollimore added.

The charity has also identified 100 streets in 10 cities which would allow ‘millions of commuters’ to cycle to work separated from traffic.

British Cycling has suggested that 14 million more adults could get on their bikes if towns and cities follow DfT guidance to implement new temporary infrastructure like bike lanes. And there are other green benefits of more people swapping their cars for bikes; researchers with Leeds University have also illustrated how a modal shift towards greater e-Bike use could slash transport emissions by as much as half.

With this in-pouring of potential new customers, the bike industry now has an opportunity to capture and contain this bike boom momentum as a change in public transport habits looks to be significant post pandemic.

Hayley Everett

Multimedia Reporter

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