Women, older and disabled people continue to be neglected when it comes to cycling provision in UK cities, a new report has found.
The report, Inclusive Cycling In Cities and Towns, found that people from these groups cycle less than the average population, even though many of them would like to cycle more often.
The report, published by the sustainable transport charity Sustrans and the engineering firm Arup, identified that these groups face barriers to cycling such as the high cost of adapted bicycles, a lack of dedicated cycling infrastructure and fears about personal safety on the roads.
Xavier Brice, CEO of Sustrans, said: ‘Inclusive transport is at the heart of a fairer society, and cycling can play a vital role in enhancing social inclusion. Sadly, in the UK an estimated 70% of the population can face systemic barriers to cycling, which shape and often limit their mobility, life opportunities and independence.
‘While it’s clear central governments need to show leadership and prioritise investment in cycling, we urge cities and towns to work with us to make cycling inclusive, safer and attractive for more people, regardless of gender, age and abilities.’
The data used to inform the report, Sustrans’ 2017 Bike Life survey, spoke with 7,700 residents living in seven of the UK’s biggest cities, also using interviews with 12 focus groups.
It found that men are twice as likely to cycle than women, with 11% of women cycling once a week compared to 22% of men.
73% of women in the UK’s biggest cities never cycle at all, while 84% of disabled people and 66% of people over the age of 65 also do not cycle.
While around one-third of women and disabled people said they would like to start cycling, safety was seen as a huge barrier as roads in urban areas are designed primarily for cars.
Low confidence in the ability to cycle, access to a suitable bike and a lack of design considerations for different types of bike were also barriers to involvement identified in the report, leaving people prone to illness and social isolation.
The report recommended that cities and towns include underrepresented groups when planning cycling infrastructure, as well as create denser networks of cycling routes near local amenities.
It also suggested reducing traffic through neighbourhoods to improve cyclist safety and providing better access to cycling training and adapted bikes.
The findings will be used to work further with organisations to improve cycling for affected groups.
Mei-Yee Man Oram, UK Access and Inclusion Lead at Arup, added: ‘Given the backdrop of climate change and air pollution in our cities – it’s vital we get more people involved in activities, such as cycling, which are not only good for their own personal health and wellbeing but for the environment.
‘We hope our findings will be a valuable tool for the transport sector in making cycling more inclusive.’