New report by Arup and Sustrans reveals inequalities within cycling participation in urban areas

Brad Ryan, Senior PR Coordinator Brad Ryan UKIMEA Press Office,London
28 July 2020

Arup and Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity, have today launched a new report, Cycling for everyone, that reveals inequalities within cycling participation in urban areas between different demographics.

In order to address these barriers, the report highlights recommendations which aim to help to work towards reducing inequalities within cycling.

The report comes out as the Prime Minister is to announce the new Government’s Obesity Strategy, including GPs to be asked to prescribe cycling.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to light many disparities within society, with people from ethnic minority groups and other disadvantaged communities being disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and over-represented within the key worker sector.

While cycling has proved its worth during the pandemic, as a safe and socially distanced way for people to get exercise and as a means to travelling to work and for other essential journeys, 74% of people from ethnic minority groups living in cities and towns do not currently cycle.

Despite low participation levels, the report found 55% of people from ethnic minority groups who do not currently cycle would like to start. This compares to 37% of White people.

The report finds that the transport sector is not doing enough to address the barriers people from ethnic minority groups and other disadvantaged communities face. It highlights a lack of confidence, security, as well as the financial outlay of purchasing a cycle as being some of the barriers that are more likely to prevent those from ethnic minority groups and other disadvantaged communities from cycling:

While challenges exist between different demographic groups, including between different ethnic minority groups, the report finds many of the barriers to increasing diversity in cycling are shared.

Key recommendations highlighted in the report include an extension of the Government’s Cycle to Work Scheme to include those in low-income jobs, as well as support to those not in employment, to ensure that cost is not a barrier for anyone looking to purchase a cycle.

The report also urges the need for improvements in secure cycle storage in residential areas, and particularly for flats and high-rise buildings where storing a cycle inside may prove challenging.

To improve confidence free cycle training needs to be provided to all children and adults, and cycling infrastructure expanded to reach areas where transport options are poor and high traffic levels exist.

The health, wellbeing and social benefits of cycling in our towns and cities are clear. But these benefits are not equally felt by everyone, and we need to do more to ensure that cycling truly is accessible for all.

This guidance supports a move away from designing cities for people who already cycle, or have power and privilege, and instead to use our collective skills, expertise and ambition as a sector to start designing cycling for everyone. ” Susan Claris Global Active Travel Leader, Arup

Daisy Narayanan, Director of Urbanism at Sustrans said:

“This report brings to light that for too long, the needs of so many have been ignored within cycle planning and development. “In order to work towards real change and make cycling more inclusive, we call upon the industry, local authorities and central government to welcome and support all people to cycle. It is only when we move away from exclusively designing towns and cities for those who already have access to move through spaces with ease, can we really create equitable places to live and work”.

 Jools Walker, Author of 'Back in the Frame' and cycling blogger said:

“If widening participation and improving planning for more marginalised groups to get into cycling is a goal, then all of these voices need to be given the platform to be heard, ensuring that the decisions made are rounded, informed and of course, genuinely representative. “There has to be a significant shake-up within this sector if we're going to change it. It's a huge step to admit that you've 'got it wrong' in the past, but I challenge the transport sector to do more.”

Cycling for everyone: A guide for inclusive cycling in cities and towns