The case for cycling: How more movement revives high streets

A busy high street with people walking and cycling and carrying shopping bags. The street is only open to cycling and walking
This briefing is intended to equip you with arguments that are likely to be persuasive to politicians that might otherwise be uninterested or unsympathetic to pro-cycling policies

This campaigner briefing is based on the findings of a report called Move Free, written by the think-tank and urban consultancy Create Streets, published in March 2024. Cycling UK commissioned the report from Create Streets in order to explore how making it easy to get around towns and cities in as many ways as possible has a positive impact on our lives.

The briefing provides evidence and arguments on how providing space for walking and cycling can revive our high streets.

Key points from the Move Free report:

  • Giving people the freedom to choose how they move boosts local economies: contrary to common perceptions, reductions in parking spaces, coupled with investments in cycling infrastructure, have been associated with increased customer spending and foot traffic. Evidence suggests that walkable and cyclable high streets outperform car-centric counterparts in terms of commercial viability.
  • Safer and more walkable streets drive commercial success: studies indicate that pedestrian-oriented environments correlate with higher retail revenues. Pedestrianised streets often experience a 10-25% increase in turnover, while projects prioritising pedestrians, cycling and public transport yield an average retail sales boost of 30%.
  • Pedestrians and cyclists spend more on their high streets: surveys indicate that people who walk or cycle to local shops tend to spend more per month than those who drive. Creating pedestrian and cyclist-friendly environments can attract more shoppers and boost local economies.