Cycling in Edinburgh a privileged activity, report shows

A new survey shows cycling habits in the capital.

Friday, 6th March 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 6th March 2020, 6:05 am
The wounded lion Charity Cycle arrives at Sheraton Festival Square.

Cycling in Edinburgh is an activity mostly for the privileged, a new report reveals.

Just seven per cent of Edinburgh residents from the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups cycle regularly, according to a survey from cycling charity Sustrans and Edinburgh City Council.

Some 30 percent of people from those groups said they would like to start cycling, with safety concerns cited as the largest barrier.

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Socio-economic groups D and E comprise people with ‘semi-skilled’ and manual jobs or people who are unemployed.

The Bike Life survey of 1,400 Edinburgh residents also found that women, disabled people, and people from minority ethnic groups were less likely to cycle.

Over 60 per cent of residents said fewer cars and other vehicles on the roads would help them to cycle more, while 75 per cent said they would like to see more protected on-road cycle tracks, even if this meant less room for other traffic.

Almost 70 per cent of residents from groups D and E said they did not have a car or van in their household, compared to just over 10 per cent of groups A and D.

Bike Life publishes a report every two years on infrastructure, travel habits and the impact of cycling in cities across the UK.

It is inspired by the Copenhagen Bicycle Account, which identifies challenges and influences planning decisions in Denmarks’ capital, one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the UK.

Sustrans Scotland Head of Partnerships Kirsty Rankin, said: “Cycling has a real potential to increase access in disadvantaged areas in Edinburgh, helping people get to employment, healthcare and everyday services. But only if we make it an attractive, accessible and safe option.

“By designing and building infrastructure that caters for everyone’s needs we can help ensure cycling participation is more equal in Edinburgh and help improve the overall everyday cycling levels in our cities and towns.”

Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said:

“The latest Bike Life report makes extremely interesting reading, and bolsters our case for continued investment in cycling infrastructure across the city.

“We recognise the barriers facing many people when it comes to cycling, which is why we are working on a range of projects to create accessible routes, increased bike parking and improved cycle safety.

“As well as major projects like the City Centre West to East Link and Meadows to George Street improvements, our draft City Mobility Plan prioritises people travelling on foot, bike and public transport, while City Centre Transformation will create calmer, cycle-friendly spaces in the heart of Edinburgh.

“Through this ambitious approach we hope to encourage people from all backgrounds to consider cycling as a healthy, sustainable and environmentally-friendly mode of transport.”