City dwellers want more space for cycling and walking

New research from think-tank Transport & Environment shows overwhelming public support for making cities more about people than motor vehicles

As the UK celebrates Bike Week, the transport think-tank Transport & Environment has published a poll, commissioned through YouGov, showing that four in five residents in Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Manchester support measures to reduce car use and emissions.

The research was carried out during lockdown, and shows residents want more space to walk and cycle in safety. SIxty-three percent of respondents said they supported more cycle lanes, with only 19% saying they did not support giving space to the World Health Organization’s recommended way for travelling short essential journeys while maintaining social distancing.

More room for walking (76% agreed) and the introduction of Zero Emission Zones that ban polluting cars from city centres (71% agreed) were higher priorities for urban residents than cycling, but as Greg Archer, UK director of Transport & Environment, points out there is still a high level of support.

“More people now want to walk, cycle and drive pollution-free cars,” Archer said. “Public attitudes have changed and political leaders need to listen and act rather than running scared from a vocal minority of motorists, shopkeepers and taxi drivers who constantly reject the introduction of low-emission zones and other measures to restrict car use.”

Since lockdown began, Cycling UK has campaigned for more space for cycling and walking, and has written to all local authorities and government bodies responsible for transport throughout the UK, encouraging the uptake of pop-up cycle lanes and temporary infrastructure.

Across all four nations change is afoot: thanks in part to more than 11,000 people who have supported Cycling UK’s campaigning, developments are springing up from Belfast to Brighton, Cardiff to Glasgow and beyond.

Cycling UK campaigns manager Keir Gallagher sees this latest research as supporting the charity’s campaigning and wider public consensus of the need to make cities about people, not the motor vehicles that fill their streets.

“Transport & Environment’s research comes at the right time during Bike Week, reinforcing the message thousands of UK residents have been telling their councils: give more space to people and make our towns and cities places we want to live and breathe freely in.” Gallagher said.

Thousands of UK residents have been telling their councils: give more space to people and make our towns and cities places we want to live and breathe freely in.

Keir Gallagher, Cycling UK campaigns manager

To make it easier for the public to engage with their local authorities about where improved cycling and walking facilities could be placed, the charity is promoting the use of Widen My Path.

This tool allows the public to identify where measures are needed in their area to enable people to walk and cycle safely as lockdown eases, and gives the option to "agree" with other suggestions.