Trendspotting 2020: Sustrans

As we enter a new decade, three cycling organisations look ahead to what are sure to be key industry trends throughout 2020. Today, we hear from Tim Burns, senior policy and partnerships advisor, Sustrans

At Sustrans, we think 2020 has great potential for walking and cycling.

In England, many places will receive funding for transforming their cities and Clean Air Zones will begin to be introduced in London and Birmingham. In Wales, the Government is looking at making 20 mph the default speed limit for all urban areas, and in Scotland, pavement parking will be banned, a new Transport Strategy launched, whilst Glasgow will host the next UN Climate Summit.

Across this we envisage three important trends emerging:

Transport finally responding to our climate emergency
The biggest trend we expect to see in 2020 is a changing transport policy landscape resulting from the climate crises. 2019 was a defining year – students have led the world and demanded change, 265 local authorities and eight city-regions in the UK declared a climate emergency, and climate change was for the first time a mainstream political issue in the general election.

We expect this to continue and enter into a new phase in the New Year. Across the country, local and national governments are working out how we meet the zero net emissions targets they have declared. One way to do this involves reducing our reliance on cars. Transport is the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases in the UK and reducing journeys by private motor vehicles is vital if we are to avoid the climate crisis.

Electric vehicles are an important part of the solution to curb harmful emissions, however alone the Government should not rely on a single technology to reach a zero-carbon future. In fact, even if we reach the Government aim of 50% of new car sales being electric, we will have to cut car mileage by as much of 60% in order for emission reductions to stay on track. 1

Therefore we need to invest less in our roads and much more in sustainable forms of transport such as cycling, walking and public transport. We expect to see investment across cities and towns to reallocate road space for cycling, whilst we continue to invest in improving the quality of the National Cycle Network.

Beyond the ‘bicycle’
We expect to see a significant rise in the use of electric, cargo and adapted cycles in 2020.

In the UK, the potential of electric cycles (or e-cycles) has been largely ignored by the Government, despite the fact that they are currently out-selling electric cars in the UK and beyond. For example, e-cycles have proven very popular in the Netherlands amongst older generations who are typically retired. This is because they help people travel further, with less effort, and can also help those less confident on a bike to start cycling.

We also hope to see a rapid rise in different types of adapted cycles which can help people with mobility issues move around their city or town, and cargo bikes which enable parents to travel with their children.  We believe this will be supported by the recent amendment to the Cycle To Work Scheme which enables people to purchase more expensive cycles such as electric, cargo and adapted bikes. However, those who are in education, unemployed, looking for work, or retired are excluded from this support.

Furthermore, higher unemployment rates exist amongst disabled people and people from more deprived neighbourhoods. If those people don’t have access to a cycle, they are less likely to be able to access amenities that most people take for granted, such as education, employment, community and healthcare.

Often these are the groups that cycle least and need support the most. Bike Life, the biggest assessment of cycling in cities, found significant appetite for cycling amongst women, disabled people, older people, and people from lower social-economic groups in 2017.

We hope to see greater support in 2020, from groups like the Beyond the Bicycle coalition, for all people to access a cycle of any type and enjoy the potential benefits of cycling.

The rise of cycle logistics
Finally, we also expect to see a step-change in the use of cycles for the transport of goods within cities. Adapted e-cargo cycles used for last and first mile logistics and transport are becoming much more competitive in many sectors. We are seeing a rapid rise in their use by existing companies and new start-ups entering the market focusing almost entirely on the use of cycles.

For example, Zedify started in Cambridge in 2018 and now operates in seven different UK cities. Most of their deliveries are made by electric trikes or bicycles replacing deliveries typically made by diesel van or truck. The use of cycles is also becoming more common in large companies like DPD and DHL in Europe and we hope 2020 will be the year the UK catches up. The UK cycling industry needs to be ready for this and respond to demand for both the supply and maintenance of all types of cargo bikes.

What will Sustrans be up to?
Sustrans will be working across all of these areas and more throughout 2020. We are already actively involved in over 80 projects on the National Cycle Network, all of which aim to make the network more inclusive for everyone and all types of cycle. Our Edinburgh Cargo Bike library enables small businesses and organisations to try out a cargo bike for free to see how it could meet their needs. And in March we will also launch Bike Life 2019, an assessment of cycling in 13 UK cities and the Dublin Metropolitan Area. Bike Life will demonstrate that residents across these cities want better cycling infrastructure, cycling to be more inclusive and for their cities and towns to be more liveable.

Chris Hall, head of business development, ACT: “IBDs positioning themselves at the forefront of these 2020 trends will lead the way in saving the high street”
Matt Mallinder, director of influence and engagement, Cycling UK: “Cycling is part of the solution and should not be ignored”

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