I have just read some disturbing statistics. I don’t make a hobby of it, but when a headline reads ‘Drop in cycle use’ my eyes are peeled on the story and its accompanying reports for at least a cuppa’s drinking time.
How can this be? All we seem to have heard in the last few years is how cycle use is increasing, there is so must positivism around cycling it’s hard to see how it could decrease in the UK for a long time yet.
But the figures speak for themselves, in the report, Local area walking and cycling in England 2012-13, the prevalence of cycling at least once a month decreased from 15.3 per cent to 14.7 per cent nationally.
Okay it’s a small change, but small changes like this make me pay more attention than normal to what is normally quite a boring read.
To be honest I only usually check these types of reports out to see if Oxford beats Cambridge for cycling rates, which I am sad to report once again, they pip us to that statistical post.
As the trade mag Bikebiz points out, this decrease could be linked to the disturbing Department of Transport position that as cycle use is statistically predicted to decrease and car use increase, they will therefore plan ahead as if this is an inevitable conclusion.
Failing to provide adequate funding for cycle use is not only justified but necessary in the Government’s eyes as they must spend the pot on providing more roads to ease the increased congestion that accompanies increased car use.
Its utter madness. If Government policy doesn’t make serious attempts to change the outcome of the future it will forever be running in circles building more roads for more cars and at some point it will wear itself out, admit defeat saying it cannot fit any more roads in and then look rather stupid.
CTC, the national cycling charity, comments on the decrease in a particularly damming way towards the Government, saying “this change is due mainly to a lack of commitment from both local authorities and national Government to cycling”.
I tend to agree with them – it’s totally the Government’s fault.
I know there is a small chance fairweather cyclists made up a high proportion of people questioned. With any stats you have to employ some caution when reading. However, undeniably it’s got the cycling fraternity worried.
On a positive note Oxford actually showed an increase in the number of regular cyclists. I think we can give ourselves a pat on the back for that before we scurry off to petition for more bike racks and more cycle paths.
We need Oxfordshire’s councils to remain committed to cycling.
Even the new car owners should want this – who likes congestion anyway?