New London Architecture

Cycling for everyone

Monday 07 September 2020

Susan Claris

Susan Claris

Transport Planner, Arup

If I ask you to picture a cyclist in your head, what do you see? Do you conjure up a sporty image of a racing cyclist? Or perhaps a mountain biker? Or maybe a city commuter? What you probably don’t see in your head is a disabled person or a person over the age of 65, cycling. 

Cycling helps people access the things they need: work, education, food, health services and recreation. Despite the obvious value to health and wellbeing of our communities and our environment, the full value that cycling offers is not being realised. Currently, the highest levels of cycling in the UK are observed among white males aged between 17 and 49.

The potential to engage others is huge: 55% of people from ethnic minority groups, 38% of people at risk of deprivation, 36% of women, and 31% of disabled people who do not cycle would like to start.

As part of a joint study by Arup and Sustrans, we have looked to highlight the barriers and identify opportunities for making cycling a more inclusive activity. Our research found that whilst differences exist between different demographic groups, many of the barriers that we need to overcome to increase diversity in cycling are shared. Many solutions would help most people who do not cycle, to start.

© Jon Bewley/photojb/Sustrans
We believe three things need to happen to bring about change to make #cyclingforeveryone. 

Firstly, we need to improve governance, planning and decision making. We recommend a refocus of transport plans and strategies on who would benefit from cycling (e.g. people who do not have a car, or people who would use cycles as a mobility aid), rather than a focus on the number of people cycling. This calls for an increase in long-term funding for cycling. Diversity in the transport sector needs to increase along with representation in consultation, decision making and commissioning. And, we need to improve the evidence base for policy.

Secondly, we need to create better places for everyone to cycle in. The main reason most people do not cycle in the UK is because they perceive it is dangerous. Providing protected space as part of a cohesive cycling networkis essential. Low-traffic neighbourhoods are required to cater for all journeys. Improving route planning and ensuring different routes are available will encourage more people to use cycles. There is now an opportunity to advance the design of infrastructure and places by viewing spaces through the lens of inclusion.

© Jon Bewley/photojb/Sustrans
It is time for the industry to remove barriers and improve secure cycle storage facilities at home, prioritising flats and multiple occupancy buildings whileintegrating with public transport.Cycle routes have to increase with schemes in place to encourage more people from diverse backgrounds to use cycles to get from A to B.  

This can be achieved by usinginclusive language and imagery to welcome everyone who want to cycle or learn how to. The economics of cycling will also play an important part to the uptake and success of this, and so it’s essential thatcost is not a barrier for anyone to purchase a cycle – this can be achieved by improving the purchasing experience and implementing free cycle training for all to build confidence and make this sustainable mode of transport  fun!


Susan Claris

Susan Claris

Transport Planner, Arup


Transport & Infrastructure

#NLAInfrastructure


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