According to new stats released by the Department for Transport the prevalence of cycling in England (at least once a month) reduced from 15.3% to 14.7% in the year to October 2013 compared to the previous year. "Although the change is small, the size of the sample means that we can be confident that this decrease exists in the whole of the English population," said a statement from the DfT.
Chris Peck ,CTC Senior Campaigner, said: "It is terrible that cycle use appears to be falling in many parts of England – which is probably a direct result of the failure to provide space for cycling. Thousands of people have already written to their councillors calling for space for cycling on main roads and reduced speeds and through traffic on residential streets."
The Bicycle Association’s Bike Hub funds sponsors the London and national #space4cycling election campaign.
Claire Francis, Head of Policy for Sustrans, said:
“It is a damning reflection on road safety in the UK that cycling levels have decreased over the last year; but the few areas where numbers have increased show when decision makers put their minds and resources into increasing cycling, real progress can be made.
“Whether women and children feel able to get on their bikes is a litmus test for how safe our roads really are for cycling; we must strive to reach a point where everyone, aged 8 to 80 and regardless of gender, feels safe enough to cycle on our roads.
“We urgently need dedicated investment in walking and cycling, to allow more people to make healthier everyday journeys by bike.”
The greatest falls in cycling have occurred in the south and east of England.
CTC believes this change is due mainly to a lack of commitment from both local authorities and national government to cycling.
The data, published by the Department for Transport, comes from the Active People Survey, a large survey of people’s physical activity habits compiled by Sport England.
CTC believes that reluctance from local authorities to provide space for cycling, coupled with a failure by police to enforce traffic law and by national government to fund cycling properly have all conspired to allow cycling levels to drop.
The biggest declines have been observed in the South East, South West and the East of England, while London and the West Midlands have remained at the same level as the year before.
The statistics also reveal:
3% of adults cycle at least five times per week
Twice as many men (3.9%) cycle to work than women (1.6%)
Cambridge and Oxford topped the chart with the greatest number of residents who cycled once a week, with 49% and 34% respectively.
Perhaps the overall decrease is a sign that the DfT’s plan for a drop in cycling is being realised, where the National Transport Model predicts that cycle use will fall in the UK, so the DfT is planning accordingly in a disturbing ‘self fulfilling prophesy’.