Are bike lanes best? We took it to the experts

Duncan Dollimore's picture

Are bike lanes best? We took it to the experts

What’s the truth about bike lanes? It feels like it depends which paper you read, and what version of the truth they report. Cycling UK have gone straight to the experts and asked them for evidence - rather than anecdote - on cycle lanes.

The results of a survey conducted for the Department for Transport (DfT) were published last week, showing that 77% of respondents in England supported the reduction of road traffic in towns and cities in England, with 78% supporting it in their local area, and two-thirds supporting reallocating road space to walking and cycling.

If you build bike lanes, you’ll find more people cycling, and the more bike lanes you build, the more cyclists you get

Rachel Aldred, professor of transport at the University of Westminster

With newspaper headlines claiming that cycle lanes cause traffic mayhem and some journalists reporting the fears of a vocal minority as fact, it was reassuring to be reminded that measures to encourage cycling and walking had such public support.

It’s frustrating, however, that the DfT had to commission this survey prior to allocating the remaining £175 million for active travel schemes from the Active Travel Fund, because back in July, a YouGov survey across Britain for #BikeIsBest similarly revealed 77% support for such measures, with 80% of Brits expressing a preference for wanting our streets redesigned to protect pedestrians and cyclists from motorists.

In terms of the air pollution that we have control over, our number one source is traffic. And we know that getting people, walking, cycling and taking public transport helps reduce those car journeys.  Providing infrastructure that gives more people the feeling of safety and access to these active forms of transport is really, really important

Dr Joshua Vande Hey, Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability at the University of Leicester

Evidence over myths

This overestimation of opposition and underestimation of support matters, because it can undermine councils’ resolve to press ahead with plans to deliver networks of walking and cycling routes.

But it’s also vital that councils hear the truth about the benefits of cycle lanes and active travel interventions, the evidence for which we summarised in our six reasons to build bike lanes article, rather than the myths.

Cycling is a means of transport within cities which has a number of real advantages...it's very efficient.  Giving a real life example of the efficiency, we can think of Blackfriars Bridge in London, where the cycle lane in rush hour takes something like 70% of the movement of vehicles across the bridge

John Parkin, professor of transport engineering at UWE Bristol

It’s clear however, that bikelash is not going away, so rather than Cycling UK setting out the case for cycle lanes, we’ve gone straight to the experts, capturing their voices on film, explaining why cycle lanes help reduce congestion, improve public health, are good for local businesses, reduce air pollution, and that people will use them.

People have written lengthy reports to try and bust the myths about cycling and walking schemes, but we think our experts have explained the benefits really clearly, in one short film.

Research in London on cycling and walking improvements reported by Transport for London has resulted in a retail spend uplift of 30%. Cyclists visit local shops more often. They tend to spend less each time they stop, but overall, they spend more say, in a period of a month

Fiona Raje, research fellow, Manchester Metropolitan University Department of Natural Science

We hope you agree, and if you do, please share this film as widely as you can, including on social media channels you use.

It’s incredibly important that councillors and decision makers in councils hear the positive case for cycle lanes. If you’re in contact with them or emailing them, please send them a link or tag them on twitter.

More than a quarter of deaths occurring in the UK are caused by heart and circulatory disease. Cycling is one of the simple ways of keeping active, which reduces our risk of heart and circulatory disease

Barbara Kobson, senior cardiac nurse, British Heart Foundation

The audience we had in mind when producing this film was not people who are already convinced by the arguments, but those who are open-minded and yet to be persuaded, so if that describes some of your friends, family, neighbours or work colleagues – why wouldn’t you send them a link?

Please share the voices!

If you haven’t shared the film already – please do!

We need councils to hear the voices in support of cycling and walking infrastructure, realise people want it, and listen to the experts not just anecdote!

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