Bike lanes continue to be a hot-button issue in our society as the effects of climate change become more prevalent and the cost of living increases. In the United States, more focus is being placed on bike commuting and cycling infrastructure. That is in response to the popularity of cycling in many European countries.
However, according to an article over at the road.cc website, cycling activity is on the wane and has dropped back to pre-pandemic levels in the UK. So, some local government officials are calling for the removal of protected bike lanes.
This information is not based on the responses of cyclists, specifically, but data gathered from a survey by the Department of Transport of the general population in England.
Survey Data Doesn’t Lie or Does it?
Just as for any sports-related activity, interest levels can shift from year to year. There can be a number of reasons for these shifts. It could be economics, weather, or a host of other reasons. For cyclists, it is usually a question of infrastructure and overall safety.
But government officials are rarely interested in “reasons” for why or why not something is being used. They rely on data to inform their decisions, and that data shows the following:
- 2% of all trips were made by cycling between 2020 and 2021
- The average number of cycling trips per cyclist dropped from 20 to 15.
- The number of people cycling at least once a week dropped from 11.6% to 9.1%.
- Average annual miles per cyclist dropped from 33 miles to 55 miles, but that is higher than in 2002 with 39 miles.
- Adults cycling once a month dropped to 13.1%, the lowest number since 2015-2016.
2022 Data Better Overall for Cycling
It’s important to point out that data that’s gathered and compiled does not always accurately represent a true consensus. People who received the survey may not have responded for one reason or another.
The Department of Transport states that despite what the survey shows about British interest in cycling, in 2022 those numbers changed. The reason for this change is easy to understand: more bike commuters for work and other tasks versus leisure cyclists.
Commuters Might Save UK Bike Lanes
So, it is bike commuters that just might save bike lanes. They might even motivate local government officials to invest in better and safer infrastructure. It is easy to see that the increase in bike commuters relates to the cost of living crisis that’s happening not only in the UK but around the world.
Government and local officials may have made a mistake by electing to remove protected bike lanes. That doesn’t bode well for a society dealing with climate change and the increase in the cost of living.
The government plans to correct its prior decision, however, by investing 2 billion pounds in safe cycling infrastructure. This will definitely encourage people to walk or bike more frequently. Many riders have claimed it is the aggressive nature of drivers that keeps them off their bikes in general.
Investing in safer and better cycling infrastructure does come at a cost. But it is a decision that improves life for everyone. Here’s to the UK for prioritizing cycling and other healthy and sustainable means of transportation now and for future societies.