Report on city’s attitudes to cycling is published

By on 21/10/2015 in Cllr Trickett, News

In the biggest survey ever conducted on attitudes to cycling in the UK, over three quarters (77 per cent) of people questioned in Birmingham want their council and the Government to invest more in cycling, compared to an average of 75 per cent in seven UK cities.

The independent research commissioned by the charity Sustrans and seven leading local authorities across the UK including Birmingham City Council, conducted telephone interviews with 11,000 people, of which 1,228 were in Birmingham.


The new Bike Life report will help shape cycling in the city

People questioned in Birmingham wanted an average spend on cycling of £34 per head per year, the highest of all the UK cities, compared to an average figure suggested by UK participants of £26 per person to be spent on cycling annually.

This would be a considerable leap from current levels of investment at around £4 per person in England, out of about £300 per person spent on transport.

Nearly a third of Birmingham residents (32 per cent) questioned in the survey said that whilst they don’t currently ride a bike, they would like to. In Birmingham, 8 out of 10 people surveyed said cycle safety should be better; much more than those who said safety needed improving for other ways to travel. Just 20 per cent of respondents felt they’d be safe riding a bike at night compared to 71 per cent who felt safe driving a car at night or 46 per cent using public transport at night.

Around three quarters of those living in Birmingham (74 per cent) think that things would be better for health and environmental reasons if people in general cycled more, and two thirds (69 per cent) believe that more cycling would make their area a better place to live. While 43 per cent of people have at least one adult bike at home, only 4 per cent cycle regularly.

Yvonne Gilligan, West Midlands Regional Director for Sustrans said: “For the first time ever there is clear evidence that more people in Birmingham want to travel by bicycle but the quality of the environment where people cycle needs to improve.

“People want the government and the council to spend more to make Birmingham more bicycle-friendly, they understand the benefits and say they would cycle if it were safer.


Cycling on the city centre’s streets in Birmingham

“Now governments must close this gap between current spending and public demand. It’s great news that Birmingham has committed to making the city more cycle friendly by taking part in this pioneering new survey. Copenhagen changed to become a world-class cycling city and Birmingham could do this too.

“Physical inactivity, congestion and declining air quality cost our economy billions. The government must act to secure a greater share of current transport investment for cycling and walking in Birmingham and elsewhere.

“The Spending Review in November is a perfect opportunities to do just that. Government must ensure the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy is ambitious and guarantees long-term funding for active travel throughout the country.”

Cllr Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for Sustainability at Birmingham City Council, said: “Through the Birmingham Cycle Revolution project we have clearly demonstrated there is a commitment to making things better for those who want to use a bike.

“We have a fully-funded programme worth £60million over the six years to 2018 meaning we are investing at £10 per head of population annually, which is in line with what is widely regarded as an acceptable level funding.

“However, the true worth of the Bike Life Survey is that it helps set a baseline for standards and expectations in Birmingham, which are in fact beyond the widely-regarded £10 figure. The results are interesting and will prove incredibly helpful when it comes to the city council working with partners on longer-term plans for cycling locally.”

The figures come from the groundbreaking Bike Life Survey, which tracks the travel habits and opinions of thousands of people across Birmingham and six other UK cities: Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester and Newcastle.


Cyclists outside Birmingham’s Council House in Victoria Square

The report is based on the Copenhagen Bicycle Account, which helped to make Denmark’s capital one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities. Copenhagen uses these biennial surveys (conducted every two years) as part of its planning process to identify areas where cycle lanes are most in demand. It is hoped that the same can be achieved with the Bike Life Survey.

Copenhagen has produced the reports since 1996, which helped planners remove barriers to cycling. As a result 45 per cent of journeys to work, school, college and university are now made by bike. The Danish capital of Copenhagen was recently voted as the happiest city in the world and a third of its residents feel safe enough to travel by bicycle for everyday journeys. Sustrans believes that UK cities have the potential to do the same.

Sustrans worked with local councils to gather views from the public about cycling in the cities and find out what would encourage more people to try two-wheeled travel. The results have now been released to inform future investment into cycling in the cities.

Thanks to financial backing from The Freshfield Foundation a report on habits and opinions in each of the seven cities has now been released, and will be followed-up with a second report in 2017.

ICM Unlimited carried out the survey and interviewed a representative sample of 11,016 adults aged 16+, ensuring at least 1,100 in each city (except Greater Manchester which has 4,000). The survey questioned ,1228 people in Birmingham.

• Full report and infographics are available online at
• Photographs of cyclists in all seven cities are available upon request
• Local case studies are also available

For more information please contact:

Sarah Roe T: 0161 233 4071/07847 372647 or the Sustrans’ Press Office on 0207 7807 231 /


Notes to editors

1. Sustrans is the charity that’s enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day. It’s time we all began making smarter travel choices. Make your move and support Sustrans today.

2. Copenhagen is the capital city of the happiest country in the world according to the UN World Happiness Report 2013.

3. Copenhagen is ranked most liveable city in the Monocle magazine global survey 2013.

4. In England (excluding London) the current level of spending on cycling projects is around £4 per person annually.

5. The survey was partially funded by The Freshfield Foundation, and will be followed-up with a second report in 2017.

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