Less cars on the roads meant more bikes, says Sustrans study. Not just because some motorists dug out shed-bikes but also because hesitant cyclists felt safe for once

Its official: petrol blockades fuelled growth in cycling

The Sustrans press office should be congratulated on getting second bite on a news story cherry. On 13th November they sent out a press release concerning higher growth in cycling than suggested by government figures (http://www.bikebiz.co.uk/…/article.php3?id=1005).

The press office has now recycled that release, rejigged the wording and created one that mentions the magic words fuel crisis.

Heres the release:

According to a Sustrans study Septembers fuel crisis led to a dramatic increase in cycle use. The temporary thinning of traffic was just the incentive that many motorists needed to persuade them to try pedal power. Data collected at Sustrans’ cycle monitoring section in Newcastle upon Tyne shows that cycle usage during the petrol shortage increased considerably on figures from the previous week.

Overall, figures provided by local authorities from around the country show

that cycle use increased by 50 percent overall in during the week beginning 11th September. Cycle use in Northumberland almost trebled on the

Wednesday and Thursday whilst doubling in Hampshire and Kent. Other

areas, including Tyne and Wear and Lincolnshire showed increases of

around 70%. Even York and Hull, where recorded cycle flows are already

very high, increases in cycle flows of 20% were recorded.

Dr. Andy Cope, Sustrans’ cycle monitoring expert said, "We were

expecting cycle use to increase when people were forced to reconsider

their mode of transport for essential, but often very local journeys.

However, the magnitude of the transition to cycling has taken us by


He added, "The increase in cycle use may be due to the fact that there

were fewer cars on the road during the fuel crisis. All of our evidence

suggests that people are much more willing to make the modal shift from

cars to bicycles when safety is improved."

Early evidence suggests that whilst the cycle flows recorded during the fuel crisis week have not continued at the same high level, flows are higher than during the equivalent period last year.

John Grimshaw, Director of Sustrans commented "The shortage of fuel

made people seriously consider the travel alternatives that are available to

them. 70 per cent of all journeys are of no more than five miles in length,

and can therefore be cycled with relative ease. The key issue is whether

people continue to use sustainable alternatives to the car in future with their associated health, social and environmental benefits. If the Government’s intention to make our cities places where families will want to live is to be fulfilled, the physical environment must be adjusted on the ground to accommodate sustainable forms of transport like walking and cycling."

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